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  • benjaminnewman01

Mod. 4.3 - Your Regenerative Organizations

As a reminder, last week, both teams designed a resilient regenerative organization by using the Three Horizon's Model and following the prompts by Raworth and Goodwin. During this group meeting, the whole class will discuss these two organizations with the following questions:


What are the basic assumptions and beliefs that inform how we define the problem and offer solutions?

The SmALL Consulting Network assumes the problematic nature of hierarchical structure to generate long term success. They reference the common idiom “One Size Fits All” as an example of how this ethos plays out in their businesses. Where I would push back on their initial framing is to ask them to consider identifying the metrics of success traditional corporations have used for the better part of a century. Once those are known, look for the weaknesses or the areas in which their metrics do not meet the current moment and future of business. Then design progressive, more teal-like solutions that speak to the weaknesses of the existing model.

What are the unmet real needs that are obscured by the perceived needs we are focusing on?

There’s no such thing as a perfect company. There will always be unmet, real needs that get obscured or shelved to allow for other needs to be addressed. I would consider asking a client to have their leadership fill out a survey asking about what the company’s largest needs are and then ask a key group of middle managers representing diverse backgrounds, tenures, and roles to complete the same survey to see how their answers compare or contrast.

How can we more effectively work with the people affected and involve them in finding solutions that work for them?

Very often leadership will acknowledge the need to address their staff’s needs in the workplace in areas where their well-being or environment is compromised. Because many leaders operate almost exclusively from a decision making framework (i.e. telling rather than doing), they are unequipped to engage in a real way with nuanced and systemic issues in their companies. I would challenge smALL Consulting Network to consider designing exercises that challenge leaders to develop empathy as a first step in learning how to work with people who are affected by their policies.

How can we design flexibility and the capacity to transform and adapt into our proposed solutions?

Similar to some of the ideas I’ve shared above, before designing flexibility, transformation, and adaptation into our solutions, I would ask the members of the smALL Consulting Network to identify where those values already appear and exist within the company and design solutions that demonstrate how their existing team members practices can be applied in other areas of the company.

What can we learn from nature’s patterns and processes in order to create solutions that strengthen rather than weaken local ecosystems and the planetary life support system?

There are literally limitless options from nature’s patterns and processes that could be applied to create strong solutions to minimize weakening local ecosystems and support the planet. I would consider bringing members of a leadership team together into a natural environment or space in which they could explore these questions through the lens of “thinking outside the box.” I can imagine starting off a session with something like “You’re probably wondering why we’ve brought you here? And you’ve probably had experience with wacky consultants who ask you to do bizarre, untraditional exercises and experiments to awaken your creative minds. We are here today because we are going to do exactly that, but without asking you to do anything that might be considered ‘too different.’ The challenge today is for each of you to find a natural element in this area that you connect with, and then think about how that element’s natural properties might offer new insight to the challenges we’ve identified in previous sessions. This isn’t meant for you to go hug a tree, though you are certainly welcome to do so, it’s meant to provide a space outside of the norm to think about the challenges in a different way. Sometimes just getting outside of our usual environment can open up new ideas. The purpose of finding something in nature is just to give you something specific to consider and focus on while you’re thinking. You all run a very successful company that has had tremendous impact during its life. Each of these natural elements have similarly had a great impact in their lives from their ways of operating. Since nature is the origin of life, think about these natural elements as running their own business and see what happens.”

Why are we focused on this particular issue and how does it relate to its wider context (are we asking the right question)?

Here I think the framing of “One Size Fits All” is an interesting one to consider as the right question. I think many corporations see themselves and their businesses as well-oiled machines that run very well and generate tremendous value. By considering the value of “One Size Fits All” as an idea, and then analyzing its subsequent arrangements and effects (taken from Ayako Maruyama, Lori Lobenstine, Kenneth Bailey’s text of the same name), I am curious to see what new ideas might emerge that could challenge the smALL team to reconsider their framing.

Are there related problems that we could include in finding a more systemic way of dealing with multiple interconnected issues at once?

Related to my answer to the last question, I think an analysis of the existing arrangements and their effects would reveal if related problems are connected to the ones being addressed through their consulting. The idea of a “paradigm shift” might be considered too strong of a transformation for a successful company, but perhaps a “paradigm refresh” might be met with greater approval.

How does what we are proposing to do affect ourselves, our community and the world?

The outlined proposal has the potential to create incredible positive change for the people, community involved and subsequently the world. By reframing the traditional hierarchical paradigm to one of “co” the smALL Consulting Network could generate a ripple effect across sectors for what is possible for companies to consider and integrate into their businesses.

What implication might our ‘solution’ have for future generations?

Our solutions will have huge implications for future generations who have gained a loud voice through social media to articulate their concerns, fears, and disappointments in our current leaders’ efforts to address swaths of issues that they will bear the brunt of if not addressed immediately.

How do we stay flexible and keep learning from systemic feedback and unexpected side-effects?

Incorporating a practice and process for feedback loops is one way that flexibility and ongoing learning can be developed within a company. By generating consistent feedback, smALL can model for their clients what flexibility and ongoing learning looks like and how to address unexpected side-effects that may emerge.

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