Tag Archives: Academia

G1 Using New Forms of Change to Create Meaningful L+D Opportunities

Professor Cliff Oswick is from Cass Business School, City University London and delivering a masterclass for us today on New Forms of Change to Create Meaningful L+D Opportunities.

Cliff wants to talk about whats been happening in the field of change. We don’t spend enough time looking at how learning and development is a vehicle for change – that’s our focus today.

First, what has influenced change…

The mechanical and the biological sciences are more diagnostic L+D, whereas interpretive and complexity sciences are more about dialogical approaches, e.g. world cafe,

Old Diagnostic OD
scientific, problem-centred, reactive linear, punctuated and descrete, concrete and tangible, top-down
‘lets get together and decide what went wrong’

New Dialogic OD
generative, solution-driven, proactive and rhizomatic (see below), abstract and tangible, multi-directional
‘lets get to gather and co-create a future state’
Rhizomatic learning is a way of thinking about learning based on ideas described by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in a thousand plateaus. A rhizome, sometimes called a creeping rootstalk, is a stem of a plant that sends out roots and shoots as it spreads – www. davecormier.com

Examples of dialogical OD…

Cliff predicts an organisational equivalent of flash-mobs – social connectedness is important!

“Whats the difference between a social activities and a business consultant? A: the special activist care more and don’t get paid to.

So what can we do…

The blue things… are hierarchically planned. These events are still mostly top-down decisions and occur in a bound way on a given time on a given day.

The green things… are emergency and rhizomatic.

Hotspot Engagement – the network, people who are energised, highly effective, highly respected. If you don’t seek to involve these people positive within the org, they can damage the org because they care and wont to be involved

Betterworks = an organisational equivalent of Facebook. You can post challenges and receive support and feedback from people…develop your personal learning network.

Valve Employee Handbook = a game developer, with a system where all the desks are on wheels. They can work wherever they want, and work on whatever they want, no managers, no IPDPs – ultimate freedom at work. The handbook describes your responsibility for your own responsibilities. The collective make decisions about pay, performance, and other HR functions.

Agora = all decisions usually made by a board are outsourced. You can registered and be part of the cohort of people who vote on these decisions. e.g. the soft drink flavours?, and what supply chains should we use?, what shall we do with the profits?

Cass = internal crowd-sourcing and getting anyone internally involved in decisions making who wants to be…some people don’t “horse to water…”

Cliff promotes intergenerational mentoring and encourages the reciprocity of learning that a “baby-boomer” and a “millennial” collaborating can enable.

What Are The Implications for L+D?

And a real-life example…Cliff says have a look here at Do OD Organisational Development within the NHS.

If you create the conditions for emergent change, you find people will get involved in both the positive and the negative decision making, and take this collective responsibility.

Question from the floor called this out as a paradox. Answer from Cliff, leadership but not control. Get top-level commitment to it..then let it happen. You cannot make someone autonomous and self-directed in change but you can facilitate it. Caution: Cliff isn’t promoting commune organisations. These approaches are about releasing some of the grip – a blended for of organising.

Another question about getting buy in from the board and Cliff encourages us to read more – there’s lot of research out there to support your argument.

As Cliff continues to chat with Julie Drybrough next to me they conclude that it’s better to demonstrate and promote non traditional change initiative via non traditional methods eg seek the qualitative evidence.
[This blog was written live in session at the CIPD Learning and Development Show 2016, Olympia, London on Thursday 12th May. My intention is to capture a faithful summary of the session highlights, but my own bias and views will undoubtedly contribute to the tapestry of this story. Please excuse any typos, and don’t hesitate to join the conversation on Twitter with me @Jo_Coaches and the blog-squad #cipdldshow]


The other night I attended the ‘2nd Inaugural’ lecture of Paul Gilbert at the University of Derby. I have to admit that my fatigue and the fact the organiser requested our arrival for a “prompt start” whilst starting 10mins late left me redirecting my attitude from ‘come on then….tell me something new and outstanding’.

You can find out more about Paul Gilbert here. He’s a Clinical Psyhcologist who started his academic career in Economics, and has now established a centre for research in Compassion Therapy. A post grad course is also now available at Derby Uni. I wonder about specialist therapists when I’m drawn towards eclectic coaching.

I went to the lecture for a few reasons:

1. I believe in the power of compassion, demonstrating it, receiving it,  noticing it.

2. I’m still not sure about how people everyday define the difference between empathy and compassion but I think it matters and that both are essential, and powerful in a mostly good way

3. Most therapeutic approaches I come across have valuable application in my coaching practice

4. Or maybe it was just that I had nothing better to do… And there was free wine

Gilbert defines compassion as “behaviour that aims to nurture, look after, teach, guide, mentor, soothe, protect, offer feelings of acceptance and belonging in order to benefit another person”

Requiring 2 psychologies of us:

COURAGE – to look and truly see another persons suffering

DEDICATION – the desire to help relieve it

That courage strikes me; I feel that definition. It resonates and explains, and soothes. Then, similar to when you learn a new word and consequently hear it everywhere. Or you buy a new car and the fact it’s in your conscious thought means you spot the same model repeatedly. I find myself noticing compassion. Or am I seeking it.

Talking to a friend about his friend in hospital, suffering, and I’m hearing how he’s seeing this, and how this friend is too young. And yet when are we ever old enough or ready for that? He doesn’t look away, instead he steps towards. It’s sad, and also I feel warmed by his courage. Because if not you, who? Life is simply richer with compassionate people around.

Later during a thinking pair session I’m hearing my thinking partner talk about giving time and attention to her business and why she does what she does. The drive and selfless desire to move towards injustice in the workplace, and work only where that can by applied. I appreciate her dedication.

It’s easier when we notice the suffering of others, to walk by, to empathise and then let that empathy float by. We have our own stuff going off. It’s easy to feel something, whether that’s discomfort, worry, anxiety, fear when someone else is suffering, and…well, what do you do with that?

What makes us move towards?

He said “Because I can’t imagine doing anything else”

What was it about these two people. How do they chose so quickly and easily that towards the discomfort, towards showing love, towards acceptance and understanding is their default direction?

Gilbert went on to describe compassion therapy and what became clear is that whilst compassion breeds compassion (with a known body of research demonstrating that behaviour lacking compassion clearly supports further behaviours lacking compassion, empathy, love) it starts with the self. Compassion for yourself.

Self-Compassion means having the courage to look into your own suffering and truly see it, with a dedication to doing what you can, and finding a way to sooth it. It means to nurture, to protect, and to accept yourself. And perhaps the latter is first! Acceptance before change, before self-mastery.

As humans we have 3 evolved emotions systems of Threat, Soothing and Drive. Compassion therapy starts with growing the capacity to self-sooth by overriding your vagus parasympathetic nervous responses; using your Soothing emotion system to reduce your Threat emotion system. This can start with practicing physiological exercises that stimulate this soothing centre (your sympathetic nervous system) such as long slow breathing, tapping out/counting breathing. Later in the therapy this leads to soothing thoughts and self-talk. Gilbert suggests that just as we can salivate from only thinking about food, or become aroused from just thinking about sex, we can cultivate compassion through attending to thinking about it.

I think of holistic yoga practice that incorporates flows with breathing and meditations.

Gilbert opines that the practice of doing these therapeutic exercises is itself is an act of self-compassion, and thus cultivates your Drive emotion system. Compassion becomes something that is sought. (For Drive system think needs and motivation).

Actually though, it doesn’t matter where you start, because looking outward to notice compassion will have a boomerang effect.
So what are you thinking about now?

When did you last demonstrate compassion? Remember that for a moment.

Imagine you’re your most compassionate self …what would you be like?

And please don’t be fooled that all this compassion and emotional mastery is for the soft minded. To step towards and to look deeply is actually the hardest way to be. It’s a choice.