Detailing the Coherent Organization

As excited as I am about the Coherent Organization as a framework, it’s not done by any means.  I riffed on it for a Chief Learning Officer magazine, and my Internet Time Alliance colleagues have followed up. However, I want to take it further.  The original elements I put into the diagram were ad-hoc, though there were principles behind them.  As a start, I wanted to go back and look at these elements and see if I could be more systematic about it.

Working Collaboratively and cooperativelyI had, as Harold’s original model provided the basis for, separate groups for Work Teams, Communities of Practice, and Social Networks.  Within each were separate elements.

In Work Teams, I had included: share problems, co-coach, assist, brainstorm effectively, continuous feedback, welcome contributions, learn from mistakes, align with mission, narrate work, champion diversity, and measure improvement.

Under Communities of Practice I listed: document practice, leave tracks, workshop issues, share examples, co-mentor, discuss principles, continually refine practice, think ‘out loud’, and share concerns.

And in Social Networks I had put: share, contribute, listen, care, interact, and discuss values.  I also had connecters between the groups, each ways, so Work Teams were connected to Communities of Practice by bringing in outside ideas and sharing progress, while Communities of Practice were linked to Social Networks by tracking related areas and sharing results.

What I couldn’t claim was that this was the exhaustive list.  I’d put them in there with some thoughts of both putting in and taking out, but I wanted to go further.

What I did was separate out each of the three areas, and start grouping like terms together (I just took all the terms in the above diagram and dropped them into a new diagram, and started sorting). As I did so, some commonalities emerged. I ended up with the following diagram, which is very much a work in progress.  What I’m trying to get to is the set of behaviors that would be essential for such an organization to succeed, ultimately coming up with a set of dimensions that might be useful as an assessment.  What emerged is a characterization of several different areas within which behaviors fall, which is useful because then I can look for missing (or redundant) elements.

Looking for emergenceIn addition to the connecting tasks, we see several overarching types of behaviors.  Besides the connection between the areas, they grouped like I show here.

Sharing is individual putting out things, which is less pro-active and interactive than actually contributing.  That distinction isn’t quite clear to me either, but sharing might be more pointers to things where contribute is a more substantial contribution.  Which means my elements may not be properly categorized.

Monitoring is both watching what’s going on and pro-actively evaluating outcomes.  Does this need to be broken out into two separate areas? Personal is where you’re working with a specific person (or recipient thereof).  And the culture dimension is where you’re actively aware of and reviewing the underlying values behind what you’re doing.

By no means do I consider this ‘done’, but I share it as part of my commitment to practicing what I preach, thinking ‘out loud’.  This will get refined.  I most certainly welcome your thoughts!


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