The Stoos Gathering: You don’t have to wait for the change

Stoos Gathering about Change on Management and Organizational Level

The Stoos Gathering, which took place on 6th and 7th of Jan 2012 somewhere in the Swiss alps, raised a lot of attention on twitter (#stoos) during and right after the event. A group of 20+ people (referenced by Jurgen Appelo as “idea farmers”, a term I love) came together to discuss approaches of how to catalyze organizational transformation – transformation towards something like “better” working places and business relations.

Together with (obviously) many others I kept watching the live tweet stream from #Stoos. But not much was communicated and after the event had finished, some followers raised their concerns about a potential lack of inclusion, transparency and relevance of the gathering. Hypothesis: this might have been due to unclear assumptions generated before the event – by those, who invited the community for contribution, and by those, who supplied quite a lot of meaningful thoughts remotely to the gathering participants.

To me it is pretty obvious, that participants at the gathering needed their time for creating a safe environment, building relationships and focus on content and work, instead of running an open broadcast on the web. This would not be the way to enter effectively a good working mode on a trusted base with all other participants.

Instead the #Stoos people did exactly the same as we pursue in retrospectives with our teams – they set the stage for a safe place, where ideas  could be raised without any concern and without intervention from the outside, which would have rather raised complexity of communication.

The participants were interesting people from different fields, some of them well-known already. The group selected their members based on their own rules. They asked for input and therefore vice-they should owe some output.

Outlook for the Stoos Follow-up

It is up to the initial Stoos group, how they pursue their further process now. Although it might be wise not to create any elite. If they want an open evolving network of thinkers and change agents, then the network should be open. If they want feedback and true action, then the defined constraint of keeping the size of the group small, should not apply anymore for the network and it’s further development after the initial gathering (http://www.noop.nl/2011/12/the-stoos-gathering-participants.html) – otherwise it will rather lead to small results (or at least just paper work). Further Contributions would decline, if active participation would be refused.

However, I am sure there will be lot’s of blog posts arriving from participants during the next days. I count on the promise, there would be something useful, they’d bring down from the mountain. And a new road has been opened for opportunities to contribute and actively form a common approach of modern management and type of organizations. I am looking forward to contributing to this journey. But the journey will take a while coming down to real results, possibly triggering change in concrete situations and organizations.

The newly founded Stoosnetwork will have a strong focus on systems, organizations and management. Getting things moving though not only requires the motivating case, management to act, the environment to make it happen. It requires a shared vision of all people, who make up the organizations. To make change happen, it will need all the people in organizations – it also needs you.

Whatever the organization looks like you are currently in, there is something important you can do now, something to make some change happen – change towards a better working environment for yourself, for your peers and finally for the organization as a whole. So this is not only a show to be passively visited, being run by managers, whom anyone can blame upon. It is not only about “global management warming”. It is about warming at your own workplace, the sooner the better. Jurgen Appelo also blogged about this option. Don’t just take it as an option, take it as a responsibility.

Start Changing on Your Own Level

Start being a change agent now. Getting one’s things moving requires everyone taking his/her responsibility for their direct environment. This is about YOU sitting on the driver’s seat and taking action. In doing so you may start sharpen your focus on current the situation you are in.

  1. Focus on your own ressources you have available and on your role(s) in the organization 
  2. What is your immediate spectrum of influence? Where in the past could you already contribute to improving things? Don’t just watch out for the large achievements, think in “baby steps”. Consider the different roles you fulfill and whether there are any role conflicts, hindering you from effectively achieving your goals.

  3. Focus on your customer base and relationships, whether internal or external 
  4. Your work is helping someone inside or outside the organization in achieving their goals – these are your immediate customers. What about your relationship to your customers? What about trust, good collaboration and communication? What about the quality of your deliverables? Do you see room for improvement and did you already try to act? Think about your attitude – when was the last time, you talked about “them” similar as “These analysts don’t get it” or “They are testers and we know why” or even “Mind the customer” and “Developers don’t understand our needs”?

  5. Focus on continuous reflection and improvement of your skills, attitudes and behavior 

You started doing this already, if you considered point 1 and 2 above – but keep doing it regularly. Take your time, some 30 minutes a day, an hour a week or whatever you might feel comfortable with. Settle at a quiet place and rethink your important moves of the last hours or days. Think about your personal resource, your role(s), your client relationships. What went right, where could you improve? How did it go in certain situations and what was the difference compared to similar situations in the past? What specific actions would you take to follow-up and achieve a concrete improvement (consider the “baby steps”)? It might help writing down your reflections and decisions in a journal.

Now you got it – change can happen now, at your own level. You don’t have to wait for the big thing to happen first. There is no need for being picked up by any great thinkers, authors or managers. You have lots of resources at hands and you know best how to use them in your actual environment, together with your peers.

Getting your own change done over the long run, it requires discipline, quite some amount of self-discipline and probably adaptation of some behavior. Running your own change program you might consider at least three aspects of attention at your workplace:

  • Self-management (see the three focus points above, you might also consider publications by Schulz von Thun about the “Inner Team”, getting known to your own inner roles and managing them or check out “Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard”)
  • Management of personal communication (improve your communication style. Consider for example the “Core Protocols” here and here. You might also go for C. Rogers’ ”Person-centered approach” or – if you speak German – to a new publication building upon the Rogers-approach by R. Motschnig and L. Nykl: “Konstruktive Kommunikation”)
  • Team contribution (contribute with your behavior fostering good teamwork – see for example Lencioni’s “Five dysfunctions of teams“)

You see, there is lots to change and improve yourself. It doesn’t have to be the big moves first. Instead it is fine opening your mind and adjusting your antennas for generating insight about your own position and potentials. As doing so you will see and feel things changing. And you will start “infecting” your peers to do the same. Finally you will contribute to the whole system, the big thing, which requires everybody’s buy-in.

So you don’t have to wait – start changing now!

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One Response to The Stoos Gathering: You don’t have to wait for the change

  1. Jay Cross says:

    Yes, yes, yes. He who hesitates is lost. There’s plenty to go to work on right away.