Complexity Theory: Coaching in a Complex Environment


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Coaching is an effective practice, which can be used to influence many things in the modern organizations – ranging from individual’s performance to the functioning of teams and larger parts of the organizations. However, the concept of coaching itself is quite abstract and can include wide range of approaches. The way the social organizations are seen has many implications of how to think about the practice of organizational development and coaching. In this session, the different teleological assumptions, G.H.Mead’s philosophy and the modern approach of social constructionism to process consultation are used as sense-makers to build understanding of how coaches, process consultants and organizational developers could approach the complex organizations. Theoretical background of the presentation is based on the work of authors such as G.H.Mead, Norbert Elias, Ralph C. Stacey, Douglas Griffin, Patricia Shaw, Tom Andersen and John Shotter. The presentation seeks to form a dialogue between the different viewpoints that are used to make sense of the complex organizations by utilizing practical experiences coming from large-scale organizational transformation projects. Session is intended to all the people interested in complexity & coaching – especially for coaches, process consultants and people responsible for the organizational development activities.

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Complexity Theory: Coaching in a Complex Environment

  1. 1. Organizational Development in Complex Environment – Causality Assumptions Ari-Pekka Skarp
  2. 2. Purpose of the presentation 2© 2011 Ari-Pekka Skarp |
  3. 3. Causality Assumptions Is the movement towards the future that is known or unknown?Is there outside observer controlling the phenomenon? 3 © 2011 Ari-Pekka Skarp |
  4. 4. Efficient Causality The movement Interaction of towards the the parts in a future is phenomenon stable andisn’t considered predictable to be without any significant. notion of self- organization. 4 © 2011 Ari-Pekka Skarp |
  5. 5. Rationalist Causality The rationaltheory exists before thechosen action. As all the changes are Movementdue to human towards thechoice, there future is towards isn’t any a known state,notion of self- chosen byorganization.  rational human being. 5 © 2011 Ari-Pekka Skarp |
  6. 6. “Motivating” staff with Efficient & Rationalist Causality Extrovert FeelingsIntrovert Carrot & stick Neurotic Shame Likes money Discipline Public recognition Challenges 6 © 2011 Ari-Pekka Skarp |
  7. 7. Formative Causality The system“as a whole” is moving towards a known, pre- determined final form or The movement more mature is produced byform of itself. self-organizing interaction of the parts towards that pre-given form. 7 © 2011 Ari-Pekka Skarp |
  8. 8. “Growing” teams withFormative & Rationalist Causality Setting boundaries: Job roles, trainings, company values, location, goals & roadmaps, leaders, incentive targets, metrics & measurements, purpose of the team… 8© 2011 Ari-Pekka Skarp |
  9. 9. “Growing” teams with Formative & Rationalist Causality Diversity: Different job roles, projects, competence areas, work tasks, ethnicity, education, experiences, cross-functionality… Project Mgr Product Owner Quality Eng Test LeadScrumMaster Coach Test Eng Line Mgr UX Designer Epic Owner 9 © 2011 Ari-Pekka Skarp |
  10. 10. Transformative Causality Logic: “either…or”, The movement “both…and” is towards an à unknown state.“at the same There is a time” possibility for continuity and transformation Gesture is at of the the same time identities.constraining and enabling differentpossibilities for the responses. 10 © 2011 Ari-Pekka Skarp |
  11. 11. Emergence of a team in Transformative Causality n ses Respo ing Tu rn-tak Inclusio n 11 © 2011 Ari-Pekka Skarp |
  12. 12. Analogies from the Complexity Sciences 12 © 2011 Ari-Pekka Skarp |
  13. 13. End of the presentation … or is it ?“Like everyone else you wereborn into bondage. Into aprison that you cannot tasteor see or touch. A prison foryour mind.”-Morpheus, “The Matrix” 13 © 2011 Ari-Pekka Skarp |