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IATEFL Annual Conference 2012 Glasgow 20 th March Mess and Progress Adrian Underhill.

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1 IATEFL Annual Conference 2012 Glasgow 20 th March Mess and Progress Adrian Underhill

2 Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson

3 Difficulty or Mess? Every problem interacts with other problems and is therefore part of a set of interrelated problems, a system of problems…. I choose to call such a system a mess. Russell Ackoff

4 1.Recall a simple difficulty you have faced recently at your workplace 2. Now recall the most complex situation you currently face 3. Now list the ways in which the simple and complex situations differ

5 A Difficulty is fairly clear cut, definable. I can explain it, label it. Probably solvable with current thinking. I may know what the answer will look like A Mess is extensive, boundaryless, uncertain, ambiguous. No correct view. Resists change. Everything is interconnected. Hard to know where to start or what the concern really is. No tidy fix within current thinking

6 A system is an integrated whole whose essential properties arise from the relationships between its parts.... (Fritjof Capra)

7 Traditional view is to see… - Things as primary and - Relationships as secondary Systems Thinking tends to see - Relationships as primary and - Things as secondary …

8 Systemic Thinking has been developed over the past 50 years to make the full patterns clearer, to see connection and relationship rather than isolated entities, to see how to change them effectively

9 The traditional, hierarchical, top down approach is working less and less well in settings where complexity is increasing. It is not smart enough for todays complexity, where you need intelligence dispersed throughout the system

10 - Decisions based on incomplete data - Cause and effect are disconnected - Unintended consequences - Demand that leadership serves people -Demand that work has significance - Need for leaders to have self knowledge / personal maturity -

11 Most of what we know about leadership doesnt apply… The great thing is to realise that leaders work is essentially very different from the past (Wheatley)

12 1.Who is a leader? 2.The focus of the new paradigm 3.Two kinds of leadership problem 4. The essential leadership job is … 5.What about control…? 6.OK, so why is it not happening?

13 Shift from: Influencing the community to follow the leaders vision Shift towards: Influencing the community to face its problems (Heifetz) And what are these problems?

14 Problems = Technical (fix with existing know how) = Difficulty Or Complex (Gap between values and reality…. cannot be closed by current know how) = Mess

15 The essential leadership job is to help people: Either: adapt values Or: adapt reality Or: adapt both = Adaptive Leadership (Heifetz)

16 When people are aligned to their purpose, when the gap between values and behaviours closes, what people experience is a stream of ease … (Lewin)

17 Our conceptions of leadership are locked in a time-warp, constrained by lingering archetypes of heroic warriors and wise but distant fathers… Masculine aspects of leadership have been assumed as the norm of leadership… and these assumptions are deeply embedded outside our awareness. (Sinclair)

18 A learning organisation is one that: facilitates the learning of all its members and continuously transforms itself… (Pedler and Aspinwall)

19 A company that does lots of training is NOT a learning company How can a team of committed managers with individual IQs above 120 have a collective IQ of 63?... (Senge) Individual learning can be wasted unless harnessed at organisational level

20 1.. Its easy to get people to listen to and experiment with new ideas and suggestions 2… When one person learns something new, everyone hears about it 3.. Making mistakes is part of learning. You can be open about it. Its not career limiting 4.. Staff members of all ranks give each other plenty of quality feedback from above, below, sideways 5.. Everyone is involved in discussing school policies before adoption 6… People in one dept. know what people in another dept. are thinking, and they help each other

21 Systemic thinking requires: Slow Knowing (Claxton) More patient less deliberate modes are better suited to making sense of situations that are fleeting, messy or ill-defined. Allow different ways of knowing: cognitive, artistic, imaginative, emotional, intuitive … (after Fullan)

22 It is professionally exhausting to maintain the pretence that messes are difficulties… I want to face the problems – unclear, vague, and messy that I have discovered to be real around here.

23 The Learning Mantra: See whats going on Do something different Learn from it

24 Learning to think systemically: 1. See more points of view 2. Encourage connectivity not control 3. See whole school as an adventure park for your learning

25 IATEFL Annual Conference Glasgow 2012 Mess and Progress Thank You! The slides are on the conference website now

26 REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING Bennis, W. and Goldsmith. J Learning to Lead. Nicholas Brealey Burns, A Collaborative Action Research CUP Capra, F The Web of Life. Harper Collins Fletcher, J Disappearing Acts MIT Press Fullan, M Leadership and Sustainability Corwin Press Fullan, M Leading in a Culture of Change Josey Bass Goleman, D Ecological Intelligence: The Age of Radical Transparency. Penguin Heifetz, R Leadership Without East Answers Harvard University Press Lane, A Systems Thinking and Practice: A primer. Open University T551 Lewin, R Weaving Complexity and Business: Engaging the Soul at Work Texere Marshall, J..Coleman, Reason Eds 2011 Leadership for Sustainability Greenleaf Pub McNiff, J. and Whitehead, J Action Research for Teachers David Fulton Pedlar and Aspinwall 1998 Concise Guide to the Learning Organization Lemos & Crane Schon, D The Reflective Practitioner CUP Sinclair, A Doing Leadership Differently 2 nd Ed Melbourne University Press Torbert, W. et al Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely & Transforming Leadership. BK Varela, F. October Wheatley, M Leadership and the New Science. Berrett Koehler

27 Controlling the system is not the aim – rather we should increase intuition about how the system works in order to interact with it more harmoniously (Wheatley)

28 … if men demonstrate these relational qualities it is regarded as extra good leadership…. When women demonstrate them it may be regarded as what women do anyway or typical feminine behaviour and it is disappeared… (Joyce Fletcher)

29 We must become adept at learning… we must … develop institutions which are learning systems …… capable of bringing about their own continuing transformation (Schon)

30 The act of looking for certain information evokes the information we are looking for... and eliminates our simultaneous opportunity to observe other information… Every act of measurement loses more information than it obtains. John Archibald Wheeler

31 ..Most leader development is likely to be based on technical solutions, and not on the tough adaptive challenges (Fullan)

32 Teachers, social workers, or planners dealing with their messy situations may feel a nagging sense of inferiority in relation to other professions (engineers, architects) who are able present themselves as models of technical rigor, Even their own academic managers can make them feel constantly under pressure to solve messes as if they were tidy difficulties…

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