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Buck the System Bruce Waltuck


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Buck the System: Consulting Through the Lens of Complexity. Presentation at the 2d international conference on complexity in business, Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, November 12th 2010.

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Buck the System Bruce Waltuck

  1. 1. Buck the SystemBuck the System ConsultingConsulting Through the Lens of ComplexityThrough the Lens of Complexity Bruce A. WaltuckBruce A. Waltuck M.A., Complexity, Chaos, and CreativityM.A., Complexity, Chaos, and Creativity 609-577-1584609-577-1584 complexified on Twittercomplexified on Twitter Former Senior Advisor for Process ImprovementFormer Senior Advisor for Process Improvement Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services AdministrationSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  2. 2. Context: USDOL ImprovementContext: USDOL Improvement • 1987 E.O. to improve quality & productivity • 1989 USDOL explores quality and org improvement • 1989-90 research: “Success Leaves Clues” • 1990 EIQI design: rule set born of necessity • 1990-1994 award-winning improvements
  3. 3. A Look Back –A Look Back – Through the Lens of ComplexityThrough the Lens of Complexity • DOL design: simple rule set • Innovation Encouraged • “Explored Possibility Space” • Collaboration & Communication (“4 C’s”) • Clear articulation of vision and purpose • Leadership commitment (2d Law of Thermodynamics) • Power Patterns • Emergent Behaviors (Gazeta Mercantil “Sabotadors”) • Lack of Looped Learning • Lack of Looped Feedback (Empowerment is not Accountability)
  4. 4. ““R.O.M.P.-ing” AroundR.O.M.P.-ing” Around Complexity Personal Paradigm ShiftComplexity Personal Paradigm Shift • Exploratorium: Turbulent Landscapes • Briggs & Peat “Turbulent Mirror” • Waldrop “Complexity” • Wheatley “A Simpler Way” • McMaster “The Intelligence Advantage” • Shaw: Changing Conversations in Organizations • Eoyang and Olson: “Facilitating Organization Change” • Dooley; Dimitrov; Fitzgerald; Block; Homer; Holley; Krebs; Stephenson; Snowden; Heifetz;etc.
  5. 5. SAMHSASAMHSA From the Present to the PossibleFrom the Present to the Possible • Visionary Leadership – “If this tool worked over here…” • Failed on First Try – “but the consultants told us…” – A few pockets of success • Goals & Concerns – Grants are the core business – Grants are not the core concern – Commitment vs. Morale • Methods and Perspective – Dialogue & deliberation – Small teams – Learning, collaborating, experimenting
  6. 6. Through the New Lens of ComplexityThrough the New Lens of Complexity Intention & PracticeIntention & Practice • Build relationship and trust as primary goal (Stephenson; Wheatley; Shaw; Stacey, e.g.) • Build capacity for team collaboration, dialogue, experimentation, assessment (Scholtes; Shaw; Homer; Brown & Isaacs; etc. • Build capacity for change by nudging away from equilibrium; amplify differences; connect people and information (various; also Eoyang and Olson; Wheatley) • Belief (assumption?) that collaboration with intention would yield desired results (various as above; See also Knowles)
  7. 7. Murphy Strikes AgainMurphy Strikes Again Known and Unknown UnknownsKnown and Unknown Unknowns • Sudden departure of visionary leader • Assumptions and expectations of replacement • Lack of communication • Playing favorites • “Held in place by an uneasy tension” • Power and Fear • Can we move that dead elephant? • Con(at)tractors of meaning • Thanks for the storm, Lorenz • Oh by the way… goals being achieved
  8. 8. A Difficult Conversation…A Difficult Conversation… • Need to insist on access and communication with leaders • Need clear charters and sponsors (opening the possibility space) • Need commitment of time and resources • Need conversation and agreement on objectives and measures (oops..?!) • Need commitment to permit tinkering and experimentation • Need to stop treating the complex/adaptive as complicated/technical • Need conversation and agreement on time • Need trust, transparency and integrity
  9. 9. All Bucked UpAll Bucked Up The Selfish SystemThe Selfish System • “Greatest Gift” downplayed • Back room conversations amplified rumor and unfounded expectations • Fractal probes and sense-making (Branch) • We found the more powerful Attractor (“more smiling faces”), but the Status Quo counter- attacked (“rapid improvement” and “people first”) • Deming was right; Deming was wrong (“it’s the system, stupid!”) • EBP vs. PBE
  10. 10. ResourcesResources • Patricia Shaw, “Changing Conversations in Organizations” • Margaret Wheatley, “A Simpler Way” • Michael McMaster “The Intelligence Advantage” • June Holley and Valdis Krebs “Weaving Smart Networks” workshop/papers • Glenda Eoyang and Ed Olson “Facilitating Organization Change • Richard Knowles, “The Leadership Dance” • Ron Heifetz et al “The Practice of Adaptive Leadership” • Art Kleiner “Karen Stephenson’s Quantum Theory of Trust (article in S+B) • Juanita Brown and David Isaacs “The World Café” (with work by Ken Homer) • Vlad Dimitrov “Toward A New Kind of Social Science” • Peter Block “The Flawless Consulting Fieldbook” • David Snowden and Mary Boone “A Leader’s Framework for Change” (HBR) • Articles by Laurie Fitzgerald, Kevin Dooley, Frank Barrett, Harlene Anderson, etc.