Potential -> Possibilities -> Pilots -> Potential
As we've learned, organizational transformation is less of a linear journey and more of a continuous process. Our current approach to this complexity (partly influenced by fellow change agent Jason Little) is to think about it as a loop that is repeated over and over.

This "transformation loop" consists of three parts:

Potential, Possibilities, and Pilots

Potential is when individuals and teams in the org start to ask, "What's the gap between what we're doing now and how we could be doing things?" They begin to envision what the ideal future could be and notice tensions (points of friction and/or opportunities for improvement) and about their own ways of working. The tensions they notice give them ideas for how things could be better.

Possibilities are when people and teams are looking ahead to what might be possible. They try to understand what other companies and teams are doing, and come up with options for possible pilots. These pilots are experiments that address the gaps between their current way of working and what's ideal. 

Pilots are where most of the work happens. A team or individual chooses one to a few pilots to actually test. They get feedback from people who will be most impacted by the experiment. Then they actually do the pilot: adding, changing, or removing some process, policy, structure, or system. Then, they pause to ask what went well and what didn't. The team shares what they learned, and these learnings get the organization to notice other tensions, which brings us back to Potential.

This process is fractal, rather than a linear cascade. In other words, this process goes on with many different processes happening simultaneously at different levels (individual, team, team of teams, organization) toward different outcomes (emotional, practical, and systemic).

This process is also continuous and doesn't end. Success is when the org is self-sufficient in holding space for continuous participatory change. Continuous, as in nonlinear and self-reinforcing, and participatory, as in inclusive, elicitive, and not forced. The organization is constantly sensing opportunities and testing out ways to improve.

The truth is, an organization's transformation is successful not when it "reaches the last stage," but when change is part of its everyday reality. This is the beauty of this work.
This thinking is still early in development, so we're curious to hear from you. Have a thought or response? Tweet us or send us a note.

🎧 For your weekend listening...

Krister Lowe chats with Aaron about transforming organizations through radical participation on the Team Coaching Zone Podcast. We cover three forces (technology, complexity, and humanity) influencing organizations today, the OS Canvas, and two instances of our work with our clients. Listen to the podcast on the TCZ website, iTunes, or Overcast. Thanks for having us, Krister!

Here's what we're reading this week:


On flash organizations: temporary organizations where you build a team, do the job, and say goodbye. Talk about pushing project teaming to the next level.


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"70% of organizational change efforts fail." Ever heard of this statistic? Turns out it may not be as true as we think it is.


Audi is planning to scrap the "linear" assembly line for a modular production line. Here's how.


An awesome interview with Bernd Reichert, the director of a self-managing unit from a European Union Agency.


"...we will know we have arrived at our destination when diversity and adaptive thinking have become what they should be: matters of business common sense." BCG offers six principles to unlock the potential of diversity.


Frequent, informal feedback over formal performance reviews. Here's a personal take by Avdi Grimm on being the employee who "needs improvement." 
Did you miss last week's newsletter on how to make complex decisions? Not to worry, view it here.
Have a great rest of your weekend,
Your Friends @ The Ready
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