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Massive collaborative self-organised learning experience

Experience: Massive Collaborative Self-organised Learning with Theory U
From Ego to Eco: Transforming Business, Society, and Self


Recently I was among 15,000+ 'change makers' from 180 countries who participated in a large MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) learning experiment initiated by MIT's (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Professor Otto Scharmer, author of 'Theory U' and 'Leading from the Emergent Future, From Ego-System to Eco-System Economics'.

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The Problem with Change Management

As coach I have always steered away from "change management", even though it is a huge industry and I would have done quite well in it. Intuitively change management has always struck me unfair or oppressive, even when it was well-intentioned and perfectly rational. It has appeared to me one-sided, with senior management wanting to enforce a new system or a new way of working, yet were often unwilling to change their own habits or behaviours. I even felt that when I myself was a 'senior manager! 'Change management' gives an air of blame. injecting fear, and when things are not working it's "because the staff are incompetent, or lazy, or otherwise doing things wrong – they need to change". It is not a genuinely collaborative effort.

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Do Organisational Change Mandates Work?


It has been my contention for a long time that one of the reasons change mandates experience a 60%-80% failure rate (depending on definition, metrics etc) is not because there is anything wrong with the new system or working practice an organisation is implementing, nor because of poor communication or persuasion skills of the executives or consultants charged with the intervention, but rather very simply because the employees affected are often not asked nor consulted in the matter. They are simply informed of the changes as a fait accompli, they are not invited to co-create the future of the organisation. This in turns leads to disengagement, disenchantment or even cynicism, which can create a block in the change being implemented.

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SOLE - Self Organising Learning Environments

Anyone who has come across Sugata Mitra' hole in the wall computer experiment in India (TED: The Child Driven Education) will realise that organisational management is not the only human activity facing a crisis nowadays, but so is education and schooling in its traditional forms. Both management and teaching suffer from the innate habit of its professionals wanting to micro-manage everything, wanting to command and control, indeed trying to control outcomes, rather than letting them emerge. Sugata Mitra calls for creating Self-Organising Learning Environments (SOLE), and his experiments have shown some surprising results. If you are not familiar with SOLE, please view this TED: Build a School in the Cloud talk first, as the rest of this article will make less sense without it.

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What is 'Open Space'?

Guest blog by Martin Grimshaw

Open Space Technology, commonly Open Space, is a social technology, a tool for helping people to rally around a shared challenge, with minimum obstacles and maximum efficiency. It is used to organise large meetings, gatherings, conferences, problem solving and summits in which everyone has the opportunity to participate on their own terms.

Open Space is nothing new. The process was developed by Harrison Owen in the 1980's and it has been applied countless thousands of times, in at least 135 countries, in a variety of ways, with groups of just a few people to several thousands, from hours to several days, and longer. However, the basic process and principles perhaps reach back into ancient human history.

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Sociocracy: revolution, chocolate, peace, work - a history


Early history, pacifism and Quakers

Little known in the UK, sociocracy is more widely practiced in mainland Europe, after being developed in depth in the Netherlands several decades ago. First proposed in 1851 by philosopher August Comte, founder of sociology and the Religion of Humanity in response to the French Revolution, and further developed by Lester Frank Ward, prominent early environmentalist and advocate of equal rights for women, and Kees Boeke. Boeke was influenced by the Quaker movement in Britain and married Beatrice Cadbury, of the famous chocolate family; together they became Quaker missionaries and were expelled from Britain during the first world war as pacifists. Boeke was nearly executed as a result of a paper he wrote developing sociocracy, that was found after he was arrested during the second world war in the occupied Netherlands, for harbouring Jews.

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Kaizen - rejuvenating your organisation

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." (Lao Tsu)

What does Kaizen mean?

Kaizen means different things to different people. Some see Kaizen as part of the Toyota Production System, or the essence of Lean. Some have positioned Kaizen as the umbrella concept of Lean or Six Sigma. Others viewa it merely as a set of techniques or practices. Meanwhile, it is also seen as a leadership style or culture. Toyota see it as the "soul of the company". To me Kaizen is a pan-organisational attitude and questioning mind-set, which fosters co-creative betterment.

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We are in a period where businesses need to change. This may mean developing new models of doing business, adapting to the new economy or becoming a conscious business. This may also mean adapting agile business practices, becoming a lean organisation, or implementing sociocratic governance principles.
This involves a certain degree of change, across the whole organisation.

Yet given that many change programs often do not seems to deliver expected results, it is understandable that leaders feel a certain degree of trepidation towards change.

One of the main causes for poor results in change programs is that the goals of the change are mandated and enforced. Employees are often simply told what changes are required without being consulted, indeed without being involved in the creation of the new system. This produces resistence and resentment, and frustration with the top leaders at the same time