Gratitude for All the Support

Posted May 21, 2018 by Andrea Chiou
Categories: Experience Report

Today I started my first email campaign to continue growing the community that is my audience for Clean and Agile work in the US. If you would like to sign up, hop on over to my Clean Agile Coaching website and click on the Register button!

I want to express my gratitude to the many people who have supported me in growing my network of connections.  Sometimes my work is as simple as returning the kindness with a simple thank you!

Thank you Mike!
Mike Burrows of www.agendashift.com invited me to contribute facilitation suggestions for his clean language inspired 15-minute FOTO exercise, documented on his website and in his recently published book, Agendashift. Mike’s attention to non-directive, collaborative, conversation-based continuous improvement from strategy to tactical action is heavily Clean Language inspired. His Agendashift transformation facilitation tools are a true antidote to forced top down agile transformations that don’t work! And his online Slack group is one of the best!

Thank you Daniel!
Daniel Mezick of www.openspaceagility.com invited me to present Clean for Teams in a webinar for his followers. It helped me reach agile coaches while getting me comfortable with delivering online workshops.  Daniel, who wrote the preface to Mike’s book, created another extremely compatible approach called Open Space Agility. Based on invitation, open space, and time-bound experiments using the energy of the willing, organizations should consider that approach for transformation initiation or for correcting a transformation gone wrong.

Thank you Joe!
Jochen Krebs, Scrum Trainer and leader of the www.agilenyc.com community recorded a podcast interview with me on Clean Language and then invited me to New York for an evening workshop at Agile NYC. This in turn is leading to the AgileNYC conference keynote by Caitlin Walker and a few workshop opportunities to help NYC become a hub for clean-inspired agility.

Thank you Ben!
Ben Linders, a keen agilist who specializes in Retrospectives, interviewed me for infoq.com regarding Clean Language and Coaching with Curiosity, which led to many people signing up for my email newsletter.

Thank you Richard!
Richard Kasperowski  helped advertise the first Clean for Teams training in Boston to the Agile community this past April. Richard promotes the Core Protocols, another model for interpersonal team communication that I support whole-heartedly, and which pairs nicely with Clean Language and Clean for Teams.

Thank you Simon Coles!
Simon Coles who has the first ever tech company fully running on Clean Language inquiry, from hiring to sales and everything in between gives me regular advice and guidance.

Thank you Caitlin!
And lastly, but definitely not least: Caitlin Walker of www.trainingattention.co.uk without whose incredible authenticity, skill, training and devotion to bringing clean to organizations and groups has led me to where I am in my life mission. In 2018 alone, she has planned 4 separate trips to the US to help me promote her incredible Clean for Teams facilitation tools, largely to folks in the Agile community.

There are many other individuals in the Clean and Agile communities who have done their part. I need all of you and please stay with me on this journey, as I have not yet ‘arrived’!

Collaboration Collapse from Power Distance and Hidden Bias in the Workplace

Posted May 6, 2018 by Andrea Chiou
Categories: Bias, Clean for Teams, Coaching, Listening, Organizational Change, Personal Growth

Does your team ever experience lapses or collapses in effective collaboration? Are individuals less engaged with each other than they should be at work?  In the last post, we explored how to be intentional in setting up the team for success in collaborative work.  In this post, we’ll explore power distance, hidden biases and their symptoms.

Power distance comes from actual or perceived differences that convey or cause a feeling of superiority to others, often subconsciously resulting in altered behavior. This can arise from structural imbalances, such as economic power, pay differences, access to information, training and education, or biases in promotions at work. It is also caused by biases arising from things like one’s gender, seniority, religion, race, national origin, age, beliefs, appearance, or the way one processes information, sometimes called neuro-diversity.  Can you think of others? At the end of this post you’ll find a link to a Harvard University website that can help you become aware of your propensity towards the various biases.

Symptoms in the Workplace
Power distance can either have a subtle or a very strong influence in the work place. Here are several observable symptoms related to power distance and hidden bias.

  • Interrupting people
  • Mansplaining
  • Ignoring someone when they are speaking
  • Downplaying or even taking credit for the contributions of others
  • Withholding information needed by others to do their work.
  • Belittling people because of what they say or what they ask.
  • Offering to help without asking – inadvertently taking their work and learning opportunity away.

On the receiving end, a person will often clam up, withdraw, become anxious or belligerent, thereby shifting the quality or duration of any required collaborative work.  The training and awareness required to counter these effects is needed to let people know these behaviors are not ok. It takes great personal awareness, knowledge, and maturity to develop the composure to counter and give feedback to the offender.

Economic and Psychological Impact
What is the economic impact of poor interpersonal behaviors and reduced collaboration on existing teams and projects?  Because of the “metoo” movement, we have seen the impact on the careers and lives of so many women and sometimes also men, when people in positions of power have wielded their power to intimidate and control women’s careers, often silencing them with hush money.  When the problems surface fully, the people perpetrating extreme power-over behaviors also pay a price when they lose their jobs and reputation.  Another way of measuring the economic cost, is the amount of money spent on programs to assess, train and coach people in emotional IQ, leadership skills, team IQ, personality, diversity and inclusion. Couple those costs with the psychological toll of the minor infractions that barely get noticed and you begin to sense the magnitude of the issue and its effects on the workplace.

So What Can you Do?
There are several routes to increasing your own awareness about these issues. You can read more about the topic, take an assessment, or go to a workshop on biases and communication.  You can also initially simply take time to journal what you observe such as the number of interruptions you make or how forcefully and frequently you advocate your position over those of others. On the flip side, you  can log how much you pause, listen and ask questions from a genuinely curious stance towards people who are different from you.

Get help
A coach or a facilitator can help you and your team to observe its behaviors and can work systemically to foster better interactions. Personal awareness and development is a requirement for high performance teams. The best team approaches I know of have a very strong personal development component to them.

Be a role model of calm
What should we do when bias directly affects us?   One way is to be  be inspired by how Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg reacted to bias and power distance. In the May 2018 documentary of her career, we learn that even soon after she was appointed to the Supreme Court, she kept calm in the face of the blatant sexism she found in the Court.  She was and still is, at age 85, a pioneer in promotion of equality between men and women, describing her attitude when she first started on the Court: “I simply took the stance of a kindergarten teacher because the judges didn’t believe discrimination existed.” Anger, she knew would not serve her. [Note: You can learn more about the current Supreme Court by reading this article on the observed gender differences in ‘interruptions’]

What can you do if you find yourself responding emotionally to work situations? This is understandable when something about your beliefs, values, or career is being challenged or affected.  You’ll need to learn how to manage your state, and respond when it happens.  Use the power of observation, curiosity and listening first.  Confront, but do so empathically. Seek help, if you need it.  Find teachable moments. Acknowledge to others that these moments exist, catch yourself and others when you see it.

Here are some online tools to help you learn more

Remember, you are not alone.  Together with others you can help to cure these workplace ills. By adding tools and skills for developing awareness and connection, inclusivity and inquiry at work, collaborative work will be joyful.

We can increase the possibility of it succeeding by not shying away from conversations about power distance, hidden biases, and co-lapses.

Do contact me if you need help at andrea@connections-at-work. I can offer a phone consultation, training, facilitation,  personal and team coaching.

How Does Your Organization Invest in Collaborative Work?

Posted May 3, 2018 by Andrea Chiou
Categories: Agendashift, Clean for Teams, Core Protocols, Dialogue, Systemic Modeling, Teams

Does your organization invest in how it might improve its collaborative work – up, down, and across the organization?  Does it expect it to just happen in the course of doing the work?  Do folks talk about it? Do you ask about it? Or do you work individually most of the time, relying on coordination mechanisms to resolve touch points and interfaces between your various outputs?

Getting to high performing organizations, departments, or teams, does not usually happen on its own.  You can luck out and hire folks who are already exhibiting all the necessary traits of EQ, IQ, and collaboration.  It won’t likely happen and if you read about my own early career experiences at the end of this post, you’ll see why. Most organizations I’ve been a part of, even talking about ‘how we work together’ is a rare topic of conversation.  Our focus is busying ourselves getting the work done.

I’ve invested liberally in my own training to learn how improvement in collaborative work might come about.  My current belief and experience is that certain conditions, practices, observational skills and self awareness need to be in place for both collaborative work and learning to happen. I’ll share three such frameworks that I’ve learned about below.  But first, let’s see if we can agree on a few assumptions and definitions I have.

  • A collaborative team exists when its members draw from their own diverse thinking, depend on each other, consider each other’s needs, ask for help, make decisions and resolve conflict well. Without these behaviors, these are just individuals working on a common product, separately.
  • The skills to collaborate were innate to most during childhood. As you progressed through the school system and entered the workforce, institutions (including maybe your parents) emphasized the importance of listening and defering to authority figures. Those figures in turn rewarded individual achievement and created structures that dampened your previously natural inclination to play and create with your buddies, fellow students, and workers.
  • Most people want to be part of an energized, engaged team, even if they have preferences for sometimes working alone.
  • Many organizations are depending on full time external coaches to steer their their ‘team’s and to make sure the ‘teams’ are highly productive – a sure sign that learning has stopped internally and the conditions for success are not being cultivated internally.  A great team doesn’t need an external coach.

If all of that sounds reasonable to you, read on about some ways that you can learn to re-ignite collaboration.

Agendashift. Created by Mike Burrows, who also wrote the book, Kanban from the Inside, Agendashift is a suite of ‘tools’ promoting outcome oriented change and includes an online assessment and facilitated strategy and vision workshops. These will  re-invigorate your company’s vision, strategy, priorities, conversations, and decisions.  I have been part of the Agendashift community for several years, and I can offer you a FREE online assessment and debrief it with you and your team. Pick up Mike’s newly released Agendashift book to learn more and read about and join the community here. Also read about the 15 minute FOTO exercise which I helped Mike to develop. If any of this sounds appealing, email me your interest, and I’ll have you added to our community Slack group.

The Core Protocols. Created by Jim and Michele McCarthy using live weeklong labs to observe and improve teams using communication protocols (see the book Software for Your Head), my friend Richard Kasperowski now trains people in these team protocols.  Learn about characteristics like psychological safety, positive bias, freedom, self-awareness, connection, productivity and yes, error-handling.  I’ve been to Core Protocols Bootcamp with Richard, where our team wrote a Greatness Guild Manifesto after only 1 week together.  Take a look at Richard’s website and consider his online training here.

Systemic Modeling – also known as Clean for Teams.  Brainchild of Caitlin Walker of Training Attention in Liverpool England. Caitlin documented her 20 years of transformational work in mini case studies, one in each chapter of her book, From Contempt to Curiosity, Creating The Conditions for Teams to Collaborate. The easiest way to get some quick upfront exposure is to listen to some of the recordings she has made about Systemic Modeling here.  I have studied Systemic Modeling and now train people in the basics of modeling excellence in teams using these tools. You’ll learn to elicit individual patterns, metaphors for decisions and working at your best, so that you can more likely succeed in getting what you want. This knowledge allows you to support one another, deal with conflict, and give and receive feedback.  Take a look at my upcoming online 4 hour training on May 7th here. If these topics are of interest, sign up for my newsletter on my Clean Agile Coaching page for future alerts on upcoming trainings. Systemic Modeling can be a great supplement to traditional agile coaching – getting at the solution for disengagement, fear, and contempt at work.  Caitlin and I will be co-delivering a talk on this topic at the big Agile Conference. Don’t miss out if you happen to be in San Diego. The Collaboration Culture and Teams track is the largest track of the conference which means to me that those in the software development industry are craving more innovative and proven ideas for collaboration and engagement.

Three models and opportunities for learning are exposed above. So let’s get back to the story from the first half of my career in software development. What was that like?  It was an example of individuals working apart, on a common product.

Looking back, I see that we lacked connection and curiosity about one another as we problem-solved and built software, using the ‘ticket system’ to figure out what was next. (Ah, like modern day JIRA).  It wasn’t all bad, but it certainly wasn’t great. Annual reviews were about individual behavior and we weren’t good at giving and receiving feedback, if we did it at all.  We almost never developed our work product collaboratively. There was no pairing, no mobbing, just lots of meetings discussing, analyzing, coding and coordinating with no thought on magnifying effect of strong connections between all nodes of a team, no grand vision, and little knowledge of real customer outcomes.

I did my learning alone if I had time to at all.  On the technical side, I was often anxious about the pace required to keep up.  After all, as professionals, we ‘should know’!  We produced mediocrity because our interactions, learning, self reflection and disclosure to one another were all mediocre.  Eventually on one big project, we lost the re-compete, because we were just plain unaware and management was not creating the conditions for anything better than that. We were also passive on that score. While we worked hard for our customer, when we lost the re-compete of the contract, it was an existential crisis. It was too late.

If you feel dulled by your work environment, agile or not, take me up on my call for more deliberate thinking about how you currently work. Read or listen to some of the links I’ve shared.

Do occasionally lift your head from your problem solving and solution-ing to really reflect on how you work. Do start to get curious about the eco-systems you are part of (team and beyond). Ask others what they think.  If you don’t look up, some part of the system you work in will become obsolete while your head is down.

If you aren’t sure where to start, but don’t want to delay doing something, email me at andrea@connections-at-work.com. I can quickly learn about your needs and desired outcomes on a scheduled call and give you ideas on a way forward.

 

Learning Patterns – with Clean for Teams

Posted January 30, 2018 by Andrea Chiou
Categories: Clean for Teams, Clean Language, Coaching, Conference, Systemic Modeling

One of my favorite Twitter feeds is from @LPatterns – I don’t know who is behind it, but it has the cutest images and the simplest little quips about learning, formulated in a set of patterns that they claim represent a ‘Pattern Language’.  I’ll share a few or their images here.

 

These represent ‘Jump In’ ‘Design Your Learning’, ‘Open Process’ and ‘Effective Questions’ patterns! There are many more!

 
Pattern Languages are near and dear to me – they are sets of practices that been put together to name interrelated themes and topics within a given domain – usually with a lovely metaphor for the pattern title.  I have a few books I love on Pattern Languages.  One of them is simply called ‘A Pattern Language’ – by Christopher Alexander – based on buildings, architecture, city planning and such.  This book inspired many in the software community to develop its own Pattern Languages.  There are books such as ‘Agile Adoption Patterns’, ‘Organizational Patterns of Agile Software Development’ and for developers: ‘Design Patterns – Elements of Reusable Object Oriented Software’.  I am sure I’ve missed a few – do leave me a note on any you can add to that.  There’s even a conference to help find new patterns called Pattern Languages for Programs (PLoP conference).
You might not realize that the small set of questions used in ‘Clean Language’ represents (in my mind, at least) another pattern language – in a slightly strange way.  There’s no content (no target audience like architecture, software or organizations) explicit here. The questions are applicable to any domain! For teams, the questions themselves allow us to ‘elicit’ patterns in ourselves (our behavior, thinking, learning and motivation – under the hood) and in others (collectively, or in individuals). The questions also have a few patterns within them – we have ‘developing’ questions, ‘sequence’ questions, ‘intention’ questions, and ‘location’ questions.  Knowing the uses of each set of questions is very useful indeed.

 

Back to learning –  learning is a way of survival. Everything in the world is changing quickly, and there’s much uncertainty. How does one stay on course when the skills of yesterday aren’t the skills of tomorrow? Are you aware of your own learning needs, and do you articulate the support you need to those around you? Do you know what environment you need to work at your best? Do you ask and get the support you need at work or home for your learning needs?

If you want to know your own patterns for learning and how to become an exquisite observer of patterns in others, I have two options.

  • Call or email me for a Clean Language session on ‘Learning At Your Best’ so I can help you discover your ‘learning at your best’ state!  (contact options below)
  • Register to join the training I’m running – called ‘Clean for Teams’  in April in Boston, MA with Caitlin Walker (link below)

Caitlin Walker has devised the simplest possible interventions to promote well being in team and group communication using Clean Language in a set of patterned practices. In learning them, you’ll start to recognize your own patterns and needs and you can take that back to your teams!  The various practices of ‘Clean for Teams’ fit together like a well made puzzle which you’ll come to experience in the training.  She’s tested them out in dozens of organizations over 20 years.

Here is some background info on Clean Language you can listen to on the way to work. All are audio, except as noted.

Caitlin’s Ted-X talk
From Contempt to Curiosity – Creating the Conditions for Groups to Collaborate (book)
Radio Interview #1
Radio Interview #2
Recorded webinar on Disruptive People In the Workplace
International Coaching Federation Interactive Keynote (youtube)

Podcast Interview of Antarctic Expedition Scientists using Clean Language to Cope in Stressful Situations

Then, if any of this speaks to you or your company’s needs, sign up for the training here.

As usual, email me at andrea@connections-at-work.com or phone me at +1 (571) 437-4815.
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Note to those going to #mobprogramming conference in Boston, the Clean for Teams training takes place immediately afterwards on April 16-17, 2018.  People who work day in and day out or very frequently in intense programming sessions could well make use of these same Clean Language tools for added cohesion and group development.

Coaching an Agile Coach Using Clean Questions

Posted January 24, 2018 by Andrea Chiou
Categories: Clean for Teams, Clean Language, Coaching

Coaching using Clean Language yesterday, I assisted an agile coach friend who wanted to learn how better to notice the moments (just in time) when the clean language / systemic modeling facilitation skills she is learning are most needed for her teams. She said often she would only realize after the fact that she might have used or taught something like Clean Setup, Clean Feedback to effectively coach the team.  She said she wanted to realize these situations sooner! 

So, I coached her using Clean Language questions to ‘slow down’ what happens in her mind when the example situation (X) she described starts to comes up. The difference is that she now has more self-awareness about the triggers, signals, and internal responses she has so that she can catch herself in the moment next time. 

What sort of Clean Language training or coaching would you like?  One-on-One? Team Facilitation?

Contact me at andrea@connections-at-work.com to set up a free Clean Interview to find out more! 

 

No Elephants in the Room!

Posted December 13, 2017 by Andrea Chiou
Categories: Clean for Teams, Clean Language, Organizational Change, Systemic Modeling

Systemic Modelers are Clean Language facilitators for teams or organizations that wish to improve in their knowledge sharing, self awareness, sense-making and curiosity; they help teams gain autonomy, self organize while creating networks of useful information. Beyond those lofty and very likely outcomes, I like to say the end result includes: No more elephants in the room! No more having things bother you internally that are undiscussable. If you or your org need that, my contact info is at the bottom of the post!

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Russia, USA, Sweden, Japan, France, England represented – Systemic Modeling is spreading

 

Just back from a three day training, I’ve chosen a few of the principles underpinning Systemic Modeling which really go towards creating a safe learning environment for participants. These are ones which particularly caught my attention this time.  There are others that I will address in subsequent posts.

Preparation

One cannot overemphasize the need to prepare and get in the right state for Systemic Modeling facilitation. The right state means, knowing deeply why you are there doing what you are doing, aware of your attitude about your client, and keeping out of contempt type thinking.  This is very subtle and deeper than I had thought about before – its about being in a state where you absolutely hold no contempt for anyone in the group or about any aspect of the organization. And you also do not hold particular empathy for certain people over others.  This one especially caught my attention as sometimes I show ‘concern’ for others and have (thus far) considered that to be a positive trait. Yet empathy can lead to a perception of preference which can lead to drama, just like feelings of judgement. Even though it may be subtle, Caitlin Walker noticed it a few times and gave me Clean Feedback.  So, what do you need to get in a good state to facilitate:

  1. Set aside 10-15 minutes before the session you are facilitating to access your ‘at best’ state for facilitating. If that requires meditation, do that.
  2. Use Clean Setup with another facilitator. Ideally you have a pair with you during the session too, to keep you straight on areas you need reminders about. If not, still do the Clean Setup interview with another Systemic Modeling coach over the phone or internet.
  3. Let go of thinking you can improve on everything the next time you facilitate. That can be overwhelming. Pick one or two things max to focus on improving. Have a developmental task that you aim to use during your training or workshop and have someone spot you for achieving it during the session.
  4.  Know who you are facilitating. Interview them before hand, by phone or in person. Give them the clean setup type questions, know about about them and begin to discern the patterns. This isn’t always possible, but give it a try.

During the session itself, be an ‘equal opportunity employer of information’, so that they will do the same later. Be a model – you are holding the space at the center of the room where the information unfolds – and helping the participants to do the same, eventually without you there.  Preparation mentally will help you a lot towards that goal.

Let Partipants Experience It before Teaching It

Try not teach a concept or exercise unless or until the ‘thing’ the concept/exercise conveys is needed – as evidenced by something inherent in the schedule or something live happening in the group.

There is less cognitive dissonance when things are taught as needed, just in time, in context.  Here are several examples:

  1. Clean Language is based on outcome orientation and giving the clients maximum control/agency over their outcomes. When teaching the related models used for teams – (a.k.a. Systemic Modeling) – instead of teaching about ‘outcome orientation’ as a concept first using conceptual words, we instead start trainings and workshops with, WWYLTKBWB (What would you like to know before we begin?).  It is a way of putting in to action the belief that members in a group are capable of being their own agents of learning outcomes. This may be a first experience – some people find the question strange, as they have come for you to ‘teach’ them. If you were to do this in every meeting, you will develop a sense if folks are in the right room, know something about the meeting, or have needs that need to be addressed elsewhere…. And it isn’t that you necessarily answer all the questions they bring, but you’ve name them, gotten any clarifications, written them on a flip chart and thereby honored each person’s needs and sense of curiosity. You will refer back to it and answer them as appropriate now or later.
  2. Clean Setup questions are asked at the start of a day, as it will help launch a training, meeting, or other event cleanly.  You don’t need to teach the model using the words ‘Clean Setup’, just use the clean setup questions naturally. Later on you can name it as ‘Clean Setup’.
  3. Five Senses can be trained in response to some possibly incorrect assumptions or inferences that have been made during the course of normal conversations happening during the training. 
  4. Drama Triangle can be picked up when someone in the group starts to rescue, blame, or defend themselves
  5. And interestingly the Clean Questions aren’t taught per se, until after the facilitator has used them in the course of these other models.  Everything builds up very naturally this way during the training.
  6. These are examples of how to keep the agenda fluid. It doesn’t preclude you from introducing them outside of some ‘live’ context, but it is more effective to do it the other way around. For example, Five Senses comes quite early on, even if the opportunity about ‘assumptions’ doesn’t arise first, because it is very foundational to learning about communication foibles, assumptions and inferences about what other people say.

Adjacency

Almost everything in Systemic Modeling is about exposing thinking and doing it in a way that is respectful to people in the moment.  Adjacency reduces cognitive load, and in that way seems a very humane way to introduce concepts and maintain attention. Any organization that is steeped in knowledge work and wants alignment should cherish this principle. Yet, I hadn’t really thought of adjacency before learning about System Modeling.  Here are some ways in which the idea of adjacency comes up in Systemic Modeling.

  1. We ask for clarification using clean questions, not inserting our own ideas – which are more ‘distant’ from what has just been said.
  2. We ask the same question of others – accepting the last answer and extending the question to another person. We often do this with ‘Who’s got something different?’ because we are looking to surface diversity of thinking. Everyone gets a voice.
  3. We teach things when they are relevant (see prior section for more on this)
  4. We teach members to select Developmental Tasks (personal improvement actions) that are relevant to what we need right now to improve.
  5. We bring awareness in a natural progression – first to an individual’s internal sense making, their physical senses, their thinking process, then to notice what’s going on around them with others, and then to what the facilitator is doing. Starting at the core of self, moving outwards to the group is an adjacent process.
  6. If you are adhering to Systemic Modelling, and have done due diligence with Clean Scoping interviews with managers and higher ups before you take on a contract, and you’ve insisted that they undergo the training as well, you will also be demonstrating adjacency organizationally. Teaching a team in isolation doesn’t build safety in the larger system.

Does any of this pique your curiosity about Clean Language and Systemic Modeling facilitation?  Do you think your company, department, and team could benefit? As always, I am willing to do a FREE  interview with you about what you are looking for. It will give you the experience of being asked some Clean Scoping questions. You will likely come away with some new information unpacked.  Email me at andrea@connections-at-work.com or call me at +1 571-437-4815.

 

Systemic Modeling 101

Posted November 22, 2017 by Andrea Chiou
Categories: Clean for Teams, Coaching, Dialogue, Listening, Organizational Change, Systemic Modeling, Teams

What is Systemic Modeling and how can it supplement and improve the conditions for team success?

Topics include:

  • Origin
  • Whom is it for?
  • What are the benefits and observable outcomes?
  • Clean Scoping during pre-contract phase
  • Where can you learn more?
  • Training
  • How to request a Clean Scoping session

ORIGIN 

Caitlin Walker devised a set of exercises and models unique for group work that are based on the work of David Grove, a psychotherapist. David Grove was able to help patients – often PTSD patients – to heal without giving them advice.  Instead, he engaged them by asking questions that helped them model their own internal processes and in doing so they could recognize and reorganize their own patterns and change.

The foundational philosophy is one of deep respect for the individual and his/her own internal processes and therefore it is one of appreciating diversity in groups as well.  Caitlin Walker immediately put it to use and extended it for use in groups evolving into  organizational change work that has had astounding results.

Caitlin Walker’s own definition:  “a set of tools to create intelligent networks of attention across groups, enabling them to make the most of the experience and expertise of each individual present”

My quirky view: One of the coolest, most avant-garde and interesting techniques I’ve ever learned for helping smart people to become aware of and then improve in their interactions and communication. A set of techniques that that allow the team to become self facilitating – and therefore not reliant on a permanent external coach.

Clean for Teams is an alternative reference to what is known as Systemic Modeling.

WHOM IS IT FOR?

Systemic Modeling is domain and experience agnostic. It can work equally well for CIOs, CEOs, as it can for entry level workers. It works for groups in universities and a practice of doctors or lawyers. It has been used with disengaged youth failing in school, as well school administrations and IT teams. It has no boundaries where collaboration is concerned.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS AND OBSERVABLE OUTCOMES?

Benefits:

  • Increased creativity, psychological safety, and engagement – qualities coveted by many knowledge work organizations for contribution to high performing teams (see Google Article here)
  • Reduction in  Victim, Persecutor, Rescuer behaviors (see Karpman Drama video here) – fewer metaphorical elephants left to roam about untended.

You will notice that team members ubiquitously and frequently:

  • listen and pay attention
  • show curiosity and using clean questions,
  • set up for outcome and action oriented work,
  • give each other clean feedback,
  • spot each other’s ‘drama’ (behaviors of persecutor, victim, rescuer)
  • switch the ‘drama’ to outcome/action/evidence orientation
  • set developmental goals and pairing with others to evidence and feed back on the improvements

Other outcomes include:

  • Evidence of more equal levels of  participation in team meetings than prior to training
  • Increased self – advocacy and increased inquiry and learning
  • Utilizing the diversity in thinking for the greater good.
  • Use of modeling exercises to unearth hidden cultural tendencies and assumptions about the ‘way things are’ – thus ensuring continued improvement in culture.

CLEAN SCOPING DURING PRE-CONTRACT PHASE

One way that Clean for Teams sets itself up for success is in the pre-contract phase.  The Clean for Teams facilitator will typically have free phone calls or face to face meetings with both the sponsor advocate and members of the management. They will be led through a Clean Scoping exercise.

The facilitator asks the client what they would like to have happen. She checks for ‘sensory’ detail – not just conceptual words – so the client must share what they expect they’ll notice different once their outcomes are accomplished.  Then she repeats that process for the current state. How is the team working now? And what is the evidence of that? There are some additional probing questions to find out how the leadership expects it will  respond to others’ needs for change. This is to ensure their values around change will mesh with the goals of Clean for Teams training.  If both client and facilitator feel aligned based on what is shared and experienced during Clean Scoping, then the facilitator can draft up expected timelines and outcomes.

WHERE CAN YOU LEARN MORE?

The practices and stories of Clean for Teams in action across the last two decades are described in Caitlin Walker’s book: From Contempt to Curiosity, Creating the Conditions for Groups to Collaborate using Clean Language and Systemic Modeling.  You can listen to some compelling examples of how and why it improves communication in this brief radio interview. Listen to how Caitlin Walker learned about and then devoted her life to Clean Language in this Ted-x.  All links are to audio recordings for your convenience. The paperback of her book does have excellent illustrations that bring to life many of the concepts and models. It is cheapest to buy from the Clean Learning website.

TRAINING

Assuming there has been a set of  Clean Scoping meetings, the training plan would consist of sessions conducted in teams no larger than about 8 people.

The learning is iterative and most models/exercises will be used and addressed more than once during training.

Day 1 – Five Senses , Working at Best
Day 2 – Clean Feedback, Team Metaphor
Day 3 – Drama Triangle , Modeling
Day 4 – Clean Setup, Developmental Tasks
Day 5 – Current Situations, Modeling

Follow up sessions – Usually there is a need for follow up sessions spread out of a period of weeks or months to work on live issues and for deepening the practices.

HOW TO REQUEST A CLEAN SCOPING SESSION

To contact me for a free Clean Scoping session, email me: Andrea Chiou.
Please feel free to comment or interact here on the blog as well. Others might find your questions as well as the answers quite useful.