edge+stretch useful stuff
There is a lot out there, and it would be easy to offer a long list of resources that we think are useful. The reality is that would overwhelm us as much as you. So, here is a list of Ten Things That We Think Are Pretty Damn Handy When Dealing With The Mess Of Organisational Life.
None of them offer guaranteed answers or Silver Bullets because they do not exist. All will get you thinking and offer useful and practical techniques, ideas, approaches and more.
Keep an eye on this page: we’ll update it when we discover more useful stuff. And there are lots of other resources we know about, so feel free to ask if you need any recommendations.
Learn to organise.
The Ready describe themselves an "org design and transformation consultancy". Founded by Aaron Dignan, author of Brave New Work (also worth a read), their blog has some great resources and articles. In particular, we like the Operating System Canvas, which details twelve "overlapping and interconnected areas that our research tells us are in a state of flux. Each dimension is a lens that asks you to look at your organization or team and reflect on the following:
What are our principles in this area? What do we believe?
What are our practices in this area? What do we actually do?
Are they serving us? Are our actions and outcomes consistent with our values?"
Take a look at their Tension Cards as well - great resource for getting under the skin of what is not working in your team or organisation. We have them, and love them.
Learn about Organisation Design.
Naomi is known for her work in Organisation Design, is the author of a number of books on the subject, and more importantly is that rare thing: a consultant, practitioner and researcher who shares her thinking and evolution of practice for others to learn from. Highly recommended. Go to her website for her blog and details on all her books.
Learn how to make sense of the mush in organisations.
One of the most well-known names in the field of Dialogic Organisation Development, Gervase has won awards for his work and, more importantly, has published many books and articles that you may find helpful. One of the books we frequently recommend to clients is Clear Leadership. It helps you to inquire into the mess and mush that gets in the way of collaboration, and offers a practical approach to unpacking how we make meaning.
Learn about (radical) Organisation Development.
There are some great books about Organisation Development out there. Good starting points are Mee-Yan Cheung-Judge and Linda Holbeche's Organization Development: A Practitioner's Guide for OD and HR, and A Field Guide for Organisation Development: Taking Theory into Practice by Alsop et al.
If you like writing with poke and provocation, then Mark Cole's Radical Organisation Development is worth a look. It sees OD as a humanistic, democratic and progressive practice.
Learn about the 'School for Organising'.
To be clear, there is some great stuff that goes on in business schools, and... Martin Parker's critique of management education and business schools will get you thinking. Central to it is the idea that these are institutions that see organisations primarily as products of capitalism, which leads people to design, organise and distribute power based on a narrow set of assumptions.
He also suggests that the real need is for a 'School for Organising', to help people learn how to organise, drawing on wider resources and schools of thought than conventionally is done in management education.
Learn some new check in and check out questions.
Ideally, any team work starts only once a conscious attempt has been made to do a check in, which facilitates inclusion and connection before moving to the content of the meeting/event. Check outs offer a similar way of ending, a closure that attends to connection and relationship.
So Denkwerk's tscheck in/out website is a brilliantly simple resource, as at a click of your mouse it generates check in and check out questions. It is simplicity at its best.
Learn through dialogues and meeting diverse people and thinking.
The EQ Lab was set up by Dr. Richard Claydon and others as a space for learning through dialogue that is "grounded in cognitive science and behavioural design". It offers regular sessions hosted by interesting people and participants from across the globe. Or as one participant put it: "the virtual version of the Renaissance era gatherings, where ideas collide and innovation/nuanced thinking emerges."
Learn about human relations - at depth.
There are many places you could go, in order to deepen your understanding of people and organisations, if you want to really learn at depth and gain a qualification. The Tavistock Institute offer a range of programmes, talks, resources and more that get beyond the rhetoric of change to the reality of how we need to be in relationship to function in organisations. It's on our list of places to study, so may see you there....
Learn how to work with intractable problems.
You often hear talk of the challenges of working with/in the chaos, complexity and uncertainty of organisations. Less common are approaches that embrace the reality of the mess of human systems and offer techniques to help you navigate it. Glenda Eoyang's work in creating the field of Human Systems Dynamics is a useful place to start.
The HSD Institute website has lots of stuff, plus there is a wiki with lots of free resources. The E+S network also includes people qualified in HSD.
Learning spaces for practitioners and consultants.
There are many membership bodies out there, some just for Organisation Development people, others aimed at Organisation Development folk, Change practitioners, HR... What is less common is a place to go and 'hang' with others who work as consultants/helpers to organisations. So the advent of the Consultants Academy is something that intrigues. It is not live (yet), having started with a couple of virtual coffee gatherings, but it is the brainchild of Tessa Sharp and Keith Jones, co-authors of a great book on facilitation by the way.