Agile Organization Development Practitioner’s Community: Why, How and What

Why How What of Agile OD Community

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Dear members of the Agile Organization Development Practitioner’s Community, thank you for joining and welcome to our place of mutual professional learning and growth.

In the spirit of practicing what we preach, I’ll start with the why, and then how and what of the initiative.

Why the Community?

Start with the why

The “why?” is always personal to ourselves. I’ll share my WIIFM (“what’s in it for me”) in the hope that it will help your thinking of what’s it in for you.

Three reasons:

(1) For Peer Learning

As an OD practitioner, I consider I have pattern recognition and my intervention toolkit is decently robust and refined. Yet, I am acutely aware of the risk of falling into the methodology trap – a.k.a. Maslow’s Hammer. Meanwhile, we are in the practice of experimentation and iteration but we are also in the risky profession of interventions – so we tend to stay within safe limits for client delivery (and that’s the right thing to do). We need a sandbox where we can explore, develop, practice and train with each other intervention tools and frameworks beyond our comfort zone. We need a lab, and a dōjō.

I also want to exponentially increase my chance to find and meet what I call “knowledge connectors” – as in the people who are crucial nodes and hubs in network theory. Particularly knowledge connectors between academia and the business community where chronically the linkage is week.

(2) For Finding Collaborators

Delivering complex organizational interventions is like multi-organ transplant surgery – a team of expert surgeons on a marathon undertaking. I think it’s prudent to have a place where we can meet and experience each others trade before teaming up for an actual client intervention.

(3) For Sharing Client Opportunities

The above second point goes both ways. I look forward to sharing client pipelines with peer coaches, and likewise look forward to being invited to jointly develop client opportunities and join the delivery team of challenging assignments.

How Will We Run Our Community?

The age of the networked knowledge worker

I am curious myself how will the community come together and be run, or if it will run itself. Very interestingly, we are experts of organizations and networked knowledge workers ourselves. Like we are a group of professional dancers from a wild range of dancing disciplines. I wonder what a choreographed dancing between a hip-hop and ballet dancer is going to look like.

I will start the first few moves and set some ground rules for now (which we can always change later) so that we don’t step on each others toes too much (although that clumsiness is part of the fun of learning!).

▪ Action Learning

First, lets make this community one that learns from action. Posting thoughts and inspirations, let’s leave that to our individual social media feeds. Instead, let’s make coming together (virtually for now, physically later once the air clears up) for group learning sessions our main activity. Let’s use the LinkedIn group board as a place for organizing, communicating and sharing the results of those events.

▪ Reciprocity

Next, lets make reciprocity the fuel for getting these group learning events going. If you join a group learning event, host one sometime next. If you’re not confident to lead an expert topic yet, find an expert in the community (or invite one into the community) and volunteer to organize one on behalf of them. Even things like organizing a book club will be beneficial to the community. There will always be something we can contribute to each other.

▪ Non-Commercial

Therefore, I’d like to keep money matters out of the picture as much as possible. Many of us are coaches for coaches, trainers for trainers and consultants for consultants, and we all need each others service. I wouldn’t be a professional coach if I didn’t go through a coaching school. However, lets keep that side of our business outside of the activities of this community. So, ground rule (for now), no commercial offering of professional services to peers on the community board please.

▪ Moderation

At the genesis of this community while it’s manageable, I’ll do the moderation. Eventually I am sure we will have people emerging as just the right person to moderate, so we’ll welcome them as moderators as we evolve. Likewise we’ll add group norms, protocols and rules as the need arises.

What Now?

As with any pilot experiment, it’s prudent to start small and grow as we learn. So I’ll plant some seeds of first rounds of activities and we’ll see how we go. Here are some ideas:

‣ Group Coaching with Liberating Structures

  • Format: 90 minutes, maximum 15 person group coaching session
  • Contents: Group coaching of any topic – we will intentionally use facilitation techniques from Liberating Structures (also such as 1-2-4-All and What, So What, Now What.
  • Led by: Certified ICF coaches that have group coaching experience, supported by Liberating Structures facilitators among community members
  • Participants: For community members that are interested in experiencing (i) Liberating Structures and (ii) ICF style group coaching. ICF coaches that are less experienced in group coaching or less familiar with ICF’s requirements for group coaching are welcome to join as participants.

Liberating Structures

‣ Rapid Design Thinking Boot Up

  • Format: 90 minutes, no limit of group size
  • Contents: Welcome to Design Thinking + 30 minute Design Thinking Practice Exercise
  • Led by: Design Thinkers from the community
  • Participants: All community members interested in incorporating Design Thinking in their team work and team interventions, and would like to learn how to rapidly “boot up” teams on doing Design Thinking. The session will aim to share straight to the point what, why and how to do Design Thinking teaching and instructions, complete with a rapid Design Thinking practice exercise.

Learn Design Thinking in 30 minutes: Origami Gift Exercise

‣ Waterfall Agile: Round Table

  • Format: 90 minutes, 4~6 experts in the “fishbowl” and no limit to audience size
  • Contents: Addressing the Irony of Delivering Agile Transformation with Waterfall
  • Led by: A round table of 4~6 agile coaches from the community who have experiences in leading and facilitating agile transformation programmes in the large organizational setting, with one moderator.
  • Participants: All community members interested in finding hints for breaking the oxymoronic pattern of agile done as waterfall we see in organizations everyday.

Addressing the Irony of Delivering Agile Transformation with Waterfall -

‣ Mental Model Dōjō

  • Format: 90 minutes, maximum 15 person if done as ICF compliant group coaching session format, larger if not
  • Contents: Pick and chose any mental model from my Mental Model Dōjō archive
  • Led by: Coach Takeshi
  • Participants: Anyone who would like to spar with me or fellow community members on any of the mental models featured in my archive.

‣ Follow-on sessions

I am hoping that we will have volunteers among those who have participated in the above sessions raise their hand to follow-on with the next round of learning events.

In the spirit of good enough is good enough, I think this is enough thinking for now. Let me know your thoughts in the community board, and we’ll improve on our way. Otherwise, ready everyone? Let’s get our community going!

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About Agile OD: We are a tribe of learning professionals that help organzations succeed in change, transformation, innovation | Coach Takeshi bio & credentials