Modeling Leadership & Traversing Power Structures
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Modeling Leadership & Traversing Power Structures

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Modeling Leadership & Traversing Power Structures

“By its very nature, design is about exploring, about options, about embracing many disciplines and multiple points of view.Within this sometimes confusing and often contradictory diversity, leadership is the ability to discern vistas and pathways.”

This talk started out as a stone in my shoe. I had been reading on the various UX related lists including the IxDA and IA Institutes mailing lists people complaining about the lack of empowerment they felt in their jobs within organizations. Some of these posts bordered on whiny kvetch-fests saying in essence that they had no influence within the organization; their ideas where not considered; engineering had all the power; or they simply had no seat at the table.

This got me thinking about influence and power, because I knew that over the years, the user experience profession had developed a powerful set of tools for understanding problem spaces, and designing innovative solutions to those problems.

Why complain? Not to put too fine a point on it, but why whine like little bitches suffering from Stockholm Syndrome? Why couldn’t we take activities, methods, and processes from UX itself and try to solve for this problem space. This talk presents a history of management theory, and exploration of the philosophy of power, a deep dive into the attributes of successful leaders, and a list of key attributes that designers seeking power can use to become the leaders that have the ability to become.

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  • For mapping all relations in a social context - you must first understand how the relations are predicated on power, authority or influence...
  • Frederick Taylor - first to start the scientific study of management in organizations.Regarded as the father of scientific management and was one of the first management consultants
  • This is from Michel Foucault’s Discipine and Punish.
  • Freud - influenced the thinking of everything from managers and corporate leaders.The underlying premise is that raging just below the surface, humans are irrational animals filled with rage, desires, and fears that are barely kept in check by the Ego. This lead many early organizational theorists to conclude that man must be controlled, either overtly or through surveillance and hierarchies to ensure that people’s baser instincts were kept in check so that their productivity could be maximized.
  • Freud not only did a vast amount of cocaine - he actively promoted it’s use as a therapeutic drug. The point is that through the evangelism mostly of his nephew, Eddie Bernays, and daughter, Anna, his ideas had a huge influence on marketing, communications, pr, psychology for the last 100 years. He was under the influence of coke. Ergo....
  • Kurt Lewin - Organizational behavior. Founder of social psychology. He was the first to study group dynamics - the first to study leadership, authority and influence. To understand influence as designers, we need to step outside our field. Too often we are ‘inward-facing’ as a discipline - reading and discussing strategies and tactics that may make us better practitioners of our particular craft, but we need tools to understand and influence organizations that is ultimately driven by the need to create customers and sell products at a profit. To do this, we need to understand the nature and needs of business, organizations, and power. We also need to understand the grammatology of influence within social organizations.
  • Max Weber - Weber (1864-1920) Historian, philosopher, sociologistHe historically researched the sources of the formal authority that activates legitimate power, and identified three sources of legitimation, or accordance of social permission, for the activation of power: the charismatic (MLK, Steve Jobs), the traditional (Pope John Paul II), and the rational-legal (Head of Yahoo chick Mary something or another.)
  • Leadership, I would say, is the ability to have a vision of some optimum future state, and to use power, authority, or influence to make that vision a reality by harnessing other people to get shit done. Ironically enough, Margaret Thatcher’s campaign and public relations managers were students of Eddie Bernays and Freud and became masters of speaking to people’s baser instincts in direct contradiction to their more rational self-interest. Thatcher’s win was the ascendance of mass-consumerism marketing brought to politics.
  • For one actor in a social graph to dominate others, those others must have an interest in obedience. In organizations, that interest is usually governed by their paycheck. Weber was interested in power as a factor of domination, based on economic or authoritarian interests. If there is no clearer image of domination, it is the story of Abraham and Isaac in the Torah.
  • The difference between authority and authoritarian - give people the freedomto choose who controls their choices.
  • Let's be honest, sometimes we feel it takes a PhD to understand the discursive theories that are discussed in The Archeology of Knowledge by Michel Foucault. None the less, for the purposes of this talk, I wanted to introduce some of the more relevant ideas that this douchebag postmodernist posited as it relates directly to control, surveillance, power, knowledge, and ultimately (and intimately), leadership. Especially after WWII, when academics including sociologists and political scientists became very interested in theories of power and how it’s exercised in group dynamics - Foucault’s concepts are some of the most interesting, and cited, in this field.
  • Two key insights gained from his book are this: discourse should be viewed as an event, and second is that discourse itself can create power, or the ability to get things done and have them be in a way you deem needed or best.
  • Think about the authority created by the UX / Design body of knowledge. Or those trained at Business Schools….This creates a power relation between doctor and patient. Now - think about the relation between me and you. I’m up here - and you are not - this is a power relation, but if I sit in the audience, I break that. Think also within the fields of UX, or HCI, all of which are specialized bodies of knowledge using language which can then structure, intentionally or not, the power relations between those who speak the language and those that do not. In Agile, the very introduction of Pigs and chickens is the use of language shape the power relations between people. Language then structures what is permissible, what is not, which leads to more silly things – like the term Scrum Scent, which aparently is a pajorative referring to people who act outside their language defined roles.
  • Power is created with 3 axes of subjectivity. Language & Knowledge creates discourse in which power relations are created.Designer & Product OwnerPower & hierarchy (Rules) create discourse which defines relations. You must show up to work at 9am, you must get a doctor’s note signed, you must fill follow traffic rules.Ethics & cultural norms create discourse which defines acceptable behavior - “you cannot fraternize with the help” is a power move where one person uses cultural norms to subjugate another person.Panopticon - from discipline to surveillance - is it any wonder management science came from the prison system.
  • Through Language, Knowledge, Rules and Ethics, we create a virtual Panopticon. Classic Example: The open floor: The language of business, design, Agile - these all create virtual prisons with walls to limit who is in, who is out, and who controls the discourse. But within the heathcare space itself, there are layers of power and surveillance with actors including Insurers, Pharma Companies, Government regulators, with people - patients, being the least powerful in the entire ecosystem. Panopticon - from discipline to surveillance - is it any wonder management science came from the prison system.
  • Social systems are created within a specific context. Social systems define their boundaries through the selection of what is meaningfulSocial systems develop a unique language to govern interactionsSocial Systems are systems of conversation
  • Language structures the field of action, a way in which truth is constructed, a basis for agreement and transaction.
  • Through Language, Knowledge, Rules and Ethics, we create a virtual Panopticon. Classic Example: The emergency room: The language of medicine, the accepted power relations between doctors, nurses, patients, and the rules governing behavior all create power barriers stemming from a body of knowledge and specialized language... this is also true of business, as well as the ux profession itself. These all create virtual prisons with walls to limit who is in, who is out, and who controls the discourse. But within the heathcare space itself, there are layers of power and surveillance with actors including Insurers, Pharma Companies, Government regulators, with people - patients, being the least powerful in the entire ecosystem. Panopticon - from discipline to surveillance - is it any wonder management science came from the prison system.
  • Through Language, Knowledge, Rules and Ethics, we create a virtual Panopticon. Classic Example: The emergency room: The language of medicine, the accepted power relations between doctors, nurses, patients, and the rules governing behavior all create power barriers stemming from a body of knowledge and specialized language... this is also true of business, as well as the ux profession itself. These all create virtual prisons with walls to limit who is in, who is out, and who controls the discourse. But within the heathcare space itself, there are layers of power and surveillance with actors including Insurers, Pharma Companies, Government regulators, with people - patients, being the least powerful in the entire ecosystem. Panopticon - from discipline to surveillance - is it any wonder management science came from the prison system.

Modeling Leadership & Traversing Power Structures Modeling Leadership & Traversing Power Structures Presentation Transcript

  • Modeling Leadership @SemanticWill
  • Modeling Leadership & Traversing Power Structures@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Outline• Quick History• Power, Authority, Influence• Organizations as Systems• Modeling Conversation• Enframed by language• The limits of the grammar of efficiency• The Paine Principle• Stance, Tools, Experiences
  • TO PWN A THING, YOU MUST FIRST GROK A THING@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Governing Dynamics of Social Systems Power Authority Influence@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Let‟s start with a little Frederick Taylor and management science@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • His ideas about management were informed by the Prussian Military@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • His ideas of control where shaped by the penal system of discipline & punish@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Taylor‟s ideas about human nature where informed by Freud…@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Who did an epic amount of coke.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • But also the more sober ideas of Kurt Lewin – who was first to study group dynamics Who was influenced by Max Weber@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Three forms of authority distinguished by Max Weber Charismatic Traditional Rational-Legal@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Power is “the probability that one actor within asocial relationship will be in a position to carry out her own will despite resistance” @SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Domination is “the probability that a command within a specific context will be obeyed”@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Authority is „legitimate domination‟@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Authority is more enduring than non- legitimate forms of domination • Authority is related to the belief in legitimacy • It may persist even if those obeying have a greater material interest in disobeying • Authority is engendered by power@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Foucault and Power@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Authority is predicated on power • Power is not a substance. It is not something you possess • Power is a relation between people • A set of actions on the actions of others • Every relation is a power relation@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Exercising power is structuring the field of action of others.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Power and Knowledge • Power and Knowledge are intertwingled • Every field of power creates a body of knowledge • Every body of knowledge creates a field of power • Power/Knowledge is a flow. • Knowledge is encoded in language@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Power is created through 3 axes of subjectivity Language (knowledge) Governance (rules) Ethics (cultural norms)@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Language enframes process; Process becomes the Panopticon@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • SO WHAT OF INFLUENCE?@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Influence is the ability to affect other‟s beliefs and behavior without power. Influence requires a defined context.That context we‟ll call a social system.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Teams are social systems@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • As are organizations@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • SOCIAL SYSTEMS ARE SYSTEMS OF CONVERSATION@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • We need a model of conversation to understand power dynamics, decision making, and influence IF ORGANIZATIONS ARE SYSTEMS OF CONVERSATION@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Cybernetic model of conversation@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • One participant starts with a goal or need@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Context must be articulated@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Shared language is negotiated@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • A symbolic token is transmitted@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • The symbol is interpreted, and sent back@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Which can lead to further exchanges@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • And agreement (transaction) can happen@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Yeah, but…@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Kanban creates a shared context.. Using cards as “social objects” Which allow teams to have conversations@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • ORGANIZATIONS ARE CONVERSATION SYSTEMS A system is defined by boundaries between itself and its environment Social Systems are created by selecting what is meaningful to reproduce itself (Autopoiesis) An organization creates itself through conversation with practices encoded in language@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • An organization increases its efficiency by creating and refining a shared language. This common language helps the organization arrive at decisions more efficiently.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Yet while language fosters efficiency, it also limits the organizations ability to evolve.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • The language and grammar of efficiency is very different from the language of innovation – yet both are necessary@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Constrained by a limited vocabulary, the organization becomes unable to adapt to exogenous shocks to the system.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Unable to adapt, the organization eventually declines and dies.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • By continually changing its language, and its conversations, an organization may continually regenerate itself.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • The Paine Principle An outsider introducing new language may incite radical change Named after Thomas Paine - an outsider to the America colonies, who brought a new language of radical freedom, and gave a voice to the revolution. (He was, in essence, translating Voltaire into the context and vernacular of colonial America)@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Like any organization, TLC is a set of conversations among people. Like many organizations faced with the market conditions it sees itself, it needed to change to meet new challenges.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • TLC couldn‟t use it‟s existing language & conversations to change the way it handled adversity. So it sought new languages… and a new grammar for structuring conversations.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • To support an organizations future viability, effective decision makers actively introduce change into the system. They do so by generating new language that appropriate groups in the organization come to understand or embrace.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Design Thinking brought about a new way for teams to collaborate and produce value, but italso introduced a new language of collaboration as well as a grammar.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • • For organizations to regenerate itself, it must first recognize the limitations of its current language. Then it must seek new language domains, and translate them into conversations the organization may understand and embrace.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • WHAT IS THE ROLE OF LEADERSHIP?@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Leaderships role is… • About the reduction of uncertainty? • About reinforcing shared values? • Creating a framework for conversations? • Introduction of new languages? • Strategic reduction (or introduction) of friction?@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • It‟s the role of leaders within an organization to incubate and then introduce new languages@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • A thought… • You cannot use the language of the past to articulate a vision for the future. • Current language can only write a narrative of futures past.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Stance, Tools & Experiences@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Stance@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Tools@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Use UX tools to explore social graphs research personas mental models conceptual models task flows sketching open card-sorting strategy brief@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Experiences@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Review@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • So where are we? ❯Define the problem space ❯Understand the governing dynamics of social systems ❯Defined Power, Authority and Influence within a social graph ❯Stated that social systems are systems of conversation ❯Modeled Conversation ❯Modeled Framing: Stance, Tools, Experience ❯.... mapping influence in organizations@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Place all the actors@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Ask the Ten “Who‟s” 1. Who is making the decision? 2. Who else will effect that decision? 3. Besides those players, are there other players? 4. Who else effects those players? 5. Who supports this outcome? 6. Who is against this outcome? 7. Who benefits? 8. Who loses? Or Who thinks they lose? 9. Who loves the Status Quo? 10.Who hates the Status Quo?@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Add all salient factors@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Cluster them by context Your team External team External Company Country Society@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Define their roles define roles champion boss peer gatekeeper pawn@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • For all primary roles, ask these questions: 1. Who are the actors? 2. What are their roles? 3. For each actor, what do they value? 4. What is the very next outcome you need to get close to your goal? 5. Return to 3 6. Traverse across the graph@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Traverse the Graph@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • @SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • • The task of discovering the requisite variety of tools and disciplines is iterative. • The source of new languages is questions – questions that spark new conversations@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • As a leader, ask yourself… • What questions should you be asking?@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • As a leader, ask yourself… • What questions should you be asking? • What questions are you not supposed to ask?@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • As a leader, ask yourself… • What questions should you be asking? • What questions are you not supposed to ask? • > Ask those.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • As a leader, ask yourself… • What questions should you be asking? • What questions are you not supposed to ask? • > Ask those. • Ask questions that don‟t come easy.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • As a leader, ask yourself… • What questions should you be asking? • What questions are you not supposed to ask? • > Ask those. • Ask questions that don‟t come easy. • Ask the questions that are tough, awkward, taboo.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  • Thanks!Will Evans | @SemanticWill tlclabs.co