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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.

Published in: Business, Technology

Modeling Leadership & Traversing Power Structures

  1. 1. Modeling Leadership @SemanticWill
  2. 2. Modeling Leadership & Traversing Power Structures@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4. TO PWN A THING, YOU MUST FIRST GROK A THING@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  5. 5. Governing Dynamics of Social Systems Power Authority Influence@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  6. 6. Let‟s start with a little Frederick Taylor and management science@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  7. 7. His ideas about management were informed by the Prussian Military@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  8. 8. His ideas of control where shaped by the penal system of discipline & punish@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  9. 9. Taylor‟s ideas about human nature where informed by Freud…@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  10. 10. Who did an epic amount of coke.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  11. 11. 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
  12. 12. Three forms of authority distinguished by Max Weber Charismatic Traditional Rational-Legal@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  13. 13. 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
  14. 14. Domination is “the probability that a command within a specific context will be obeyed”@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  15. 15. Authority is „legitimate domination‟@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  16. 16. 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
  17. 17. Foucault and Power@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  18. 18. 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
  19. 19. Exercising power is structuring the field of action of others.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  20. 20. 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
  21. 21. Power is created through 3 axes of subjectivity Language (knowledge) Governance (rules) Ethics (cultural norms)@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  22. 22. Language enframes process; Process becomes the Panopticon@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  23. 23. SO WHAT OF INFLUENCE?@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  24. 24. 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
  25. 25. Teams are social systems@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  26. 26. As are organizations@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  28. 28. We need a model of conversation to understand power dynamics, decision making, and influence IF ORGANIZATIONS ARE SYSTEMS OF CONVERSATION@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  29. 29. Cybernetic model of conversation@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  30. 30. One participant starts with a goal or need@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  31. 31. Context must be articulated@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  32. 32. Shared language is negotiated@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  33. 33. A symbolic token is transmitted@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  34. 34. The symbol is interpreted, and sent back@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  35. 35. Which can lead to further exchanges@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  36. 36. And agreement (transaction) can happen@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  37. 37. Yeah, but…@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  38. 38. Kanban creates a shared context.. Using cards as “social objects” Which allow teams to have conversations@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  39. 39. 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
  40. 40. 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
  41. 41. Yet while language fosters efficiency, it also limits the organizations ability to evolve.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  42. 42. The language and grammar of efficiency is very different from the language of innovation – yet both are necessary@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  43. 43. Constrained by a limited vocabulary, the organization becomes unable to adapt to exogenous shocks to the system.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  44. 44. Unable to adapt, the organization eventually declines and dies.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  45. 45. By continually changing its language, and its conversations, an organization may continually regenerate itself.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  46. 46. 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
  47. 47. 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
  48. 48. 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
  49. 49. 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
  50. 50. 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
  51. 51. • 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
  52. 52. WHAT IS THE ROLE OF LEADERSHIP?@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  53. 53. 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
  54. 54. It‟s the role of leaders within an organization to incubate and then introduce new languages@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  55. 55. 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
  56. 56. Stance, Tools & Experiences@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  57. 57. Stance@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  58. 58. Tools@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  59. 59. Use UX tools to explore social graphs research personas mental models conceptual models task flows sketching open card-sorting strategy brief@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  60. 60. Experiences@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  61. 61. Review@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  62. 62. 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
  63. 63. Place all the actors@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  64. 64. 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
  65. 65. Add all salient factors@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  66. 66. Cluster them by context Your team External team External Company Country Society@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  67. 67. Define their roles define roles champion boss peer gatekeeper pawn@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  68. 68. 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
  69. 69. Traverse the Graph@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  70. 70. @SemanticWill | Will Evans
  71. 71. • 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
  72. 72. As a leader, ask yourself… • What questions should you be asking?@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  73. 73. As a leader, ask yourself… • What questions should you be asking? • What questions are you not supposed to ask?@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  74. 74. As a leader, ask yourself… • What questions should you be asking? • What questions are you not supposed to ask? • > Ask those.@SemanticWill | Will Evans
  75. 75. 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
  76. 76. 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
  77. 77. Thanks!Will Evans | @SemanticWill