T-groups and Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS)

When I was doing my executive PGD in TISS-CSOL on OD and change, we had credit courses on Complex Adaptive Systems and Human Interaction Labs (aka T-groups), two very essential topics to OD. We were also asked to write reflection papers on Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) and Human Interaction Labs. When I sat down to write them, I realised one is connected to the other and ended up writing about how Labs are in fact Complex Adaptive Systems. If you want to understand CAS, I think a good place to start with could be T-groups and probably the other way round too. Given the complexity of both the systems, the points I have presented here may be experienced differently by different people. And these are only my initial thoughts. Welcome your thoughts.

How to know if your Job is Intrinsically Motivating

Many people are aware of the ‘Autonomy-Mastery-Purpose’ triad concept promoted by Daniel Pink in his hugely popular book ‘Drive’. Pink says for jobs to be intrinsically motivating, people need to have autonomy (to make decisions over what they do and need), mastery (continuously learning and improving oneself) and purpose (a guiding principle that is beyond profit and self-interest). What many people may not be aware of is a closely related and equally interesting framework presented by Hackman and Oldham in the 1970s which is called the Job Characteristics Model (JCM). It describes 5 core characteristics of a job and how they lead to intrinsic motivation. Below is the model representation : The model describes 5 core dimensions of a job, 3 psychological states it achieves and the personal and work outcomes of such a job. The core dimensions are : Skill Variety, Task Identity, Task Significance, Autonomy and Feedback. The first three contribute towards experienced

Feedback Fundamentals

  “You cannot improve what you don’t measure’" – Edward Deming If I have to slightly tweak Deming’s words, I would say “you cannot improve what you don’t get feedback on”. It is that time of the year when most of the organizations are working through their annual performance review rituals. Managers face a challenging task of giving a satisfactory review, rating and raise. What was once a purely annual performance review, has undergone some changes - many organizations conduct periodic – quarterly or half-yearly reviews to ease the process. Periodic review meetings help to avoid surprises and help individuals improve their performance on a continuous basis. Most importantly they help in improving the process of review itself. One of the fundamental processes in the performance appraisal cycle is the process of giving feedback – useful information for the receiver to help him/her to make the necessary corrections in behaviour so that performance improve

Do Shared Goals Help ?

Definition. Shared Goals are goals or purpose held commonly by a group of people to which they are committed.   A recent engagement with participants of the TISS Winter School in OD for the social sector brought a very interesting aspect of organisations to the fore – that of having a common cause or a shared goal that will connect them together and energize them. In almost all the social enterprises where the OD students were involved in fieldwork, they experienced the employees and volunteers of these enterprises as very passionate about what they were doing. "We could literally see the spark and passion in their eyes” were the words used by the OD students as they shared their experiences. Most of the NGOs concerned here had minimal resources at their disposal – funds, human resources, office space, etc.  And they work with people who face poverty, abuse, unemployment, domestic violence, and many such issues that could be emotionally stressful and draining. 

What is Real Change

I was recently reminded of this quote by Maya Angelou when I happened to watch Groundhog Day, a Hollywood movie that features a protagonist who is very unhappy with his life.  In the movie, Phil is the protagonist and a weather reporter whose life carries a routine which is exactly the same every day, aka, a time loop.  He struggles as he tries to make sense of the events in his life that are strikingly the same – it is not only the work he does, and the people he works with that he sees every day. It is also the beggar on the street, the accidental insurance agent, the pothole he happens to step into, etc. He soon starts hating the environment, the town, the people and the celebrations around the Groundhog Day and finds himself cheating others, getting into one-night stands and reckless driving. He tries to get out of the time loop by committing suicide multiple times, nevertheless wakes up to the same day, repeating his routine.  Finally he comes out of the time loop by

Agile Retrospectives – Using Double Loop Learning

Agile (or Sprint) retrospective is a useful mechanism for the scrum teams to implement continuous improvement in their processes. The scrum master may facilitate the retrospective meeting to help the team identify processes that worked well and those that did not work so well. The team goes on to find ways to improve the processes and try them out in the next sprint. Retrospectives are very important for Agile teams to be successful because it brings in a continuous ‘inspect and adapt’ approach to the processes applied for making the product. The Process of retrospective While there are many techniques to conduct the retrospective meeting, the general process followed is to take the individual’s feedback, collate them and identify top priority items to be implemented in the next sprint. It is fundamentally a process to collect feedback and make corrections to the system. According to the General Systems Theory, a system has inputs, outputs, transformation processes that
Tangible vs Intangible- where do you focus ? When you are setting up a new team or business unit, or want to bring about change in an existing setup, what do you do ? create/modify structures and processes - those which are tangible and measurable. Intangibles like people's perceptions, feelings, assumptions and beliefs are difficult to work with. Quite often, these intangibles make or break change programs and business goals. I found this excellent article on HBR that uses the tangible-intangible conundrum in explaining the execution-strategy gap - 'It is important to focus on what people think rather than what they do'