Curiosity and excitement about horizontal organizations coexist with concerns and cynicism. Most of today’s work force is disengaged and the current ways of working won’t be able to take us into our future. Even if we know all this, we still struggle to figure out what to do come Monday morning.
For over 10 years I have been using our company, Percolab, as a lab of how an organization can function. With clients, colleagues and international friends, we try things out and sense make, in a never ending learning process. In 2016 I began offering workshops on the topic: Demystifying Self-Management. They helped people connect with the notion and explore some basic elements. In 2017, at SXSW in the USA, with Edwin Jansen, we gave a panel on Growing a Company without Bosses. It was a provocation and we were stunned by the response.
Weeks later I signed a book contract with my favorite publisher, Berrett-Koehler: Going Horizontal: Creating a Non-hierarchical Organization, One Practice at a Time. It is a practical book. It builds on the fabulous work in the field of new ways of working, such as Frederic Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations. Going Horizontal is all about the practice. It offers seven domains of practice to help anchor new habits and mindset as they develop. But Going Horizontal is more than a book, it is also a community and a series of practical trainings.
Who shows up at a Going Horizontal training?
In Antwerp, Belgium, six countries were in the room. Some people had specific questions while others wanted to make sense of their own experimentations. In Quebec City, Canada, workers from a pulp and paper factory joined Lawyers without Borders, an IT professional (recovering from a less than satisfactory foray into self-management), and consultants and students. Going Horizontal connects across domains and job titles.
A deep dive in Spain
The next stop is in Spain the 11-14th October, 2018 for a four day residential training in a castle in the middle of a 200 hectare forest outside of Barcelona. Beyond the enchanting venue, will be a unique learning experience. This training is offered by a powerful international team:
The day to day challenges of participants will be the basis of the program. The seven domains of practice of the Going Horizontal framework will help to grow our strengths and overcome our blind spots. Together we are exploring the new rich and yet unexplored territory of all that Going Horizontal can be. Via each training the community grows as participants can become champions of horizontal practices in their local context.
If this speaks to you, please join us in Spain! If you know someone who should be there, please let them know.
Either way you can pre-order the book Going Horizontal now via Amazon.
If you would like to collaborate to offer a Going Horizontal training or virtual book club in your area, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If you don’t know about Connectle yet, you should! It is an ecosystem for change-agents to explore and implement new ways of working.
They host international live streamed conversations on the future of work and share the videos thereafter. Percolab was recently invited to join a conversation on the hot topic of Continuous Learning.
Social Entrepreneur Phoebe Tickell hosted the conversation with Samantha Slade (Percolab) Harold Jarche (JarcheConsulting) Susan Basterfield (Enspiral) and Sabrina Bouraoui (Shades of Gray).
Thanks to Mara Tolja for making it all happen and the great videos.
Join in the upcoming live streamed conversations and check out the entire video collection: Connectle
Growing up, noone remembers the first time they drew. We were given crayons, pencils, pens, paper and encouraged to draw. From simple marks on the paper, to representations of our home, our family, our world we saw. We were encouraged and supported to make more.
We learnt from it, we better understood our world through it, we got feedback from each stroke, each picture, each adult (or sometimes) children who saw it. It shaped our understanding and learning. Helped us see our place, that of others and to break things down into simple component parts.
We were liberated, free, without guilt or questioning our abilities. It didn’t matter what we drew, it helped, aided us in our understanding. It wasn’t art, it was what it was. Adults encouraged us, proud in the development they saw. We were given different tools, found new ways of marking the paper, paint, different pens and colors. We explored the mixing of colors, we reflected the world and chose colors that supported the understanding to us what it was, green for trees, blue for sky. We drew to tell stories, we brought life to the pictures, they served a bigger intention than just doodling. But then we stopped, we wrote, we clicked. Drawing became the tool of creatives: artists; designers; architects etc.
But, what happens when we draw like a child in our adult world?
What happens when we draw our system, map out the elements, their relationship to each other. What happens when we listen to a group and visualise the connections, provide feedback to groups through visual scribing? Or when we use visual metaphors and visualise frameworks to better our collective understanding?
Welcome to the world of Visual Thinking.
Making decisions together does not have to be long and painful. The realm of “consent based decision making” is not well known even though it can help organisations make decisions collectively efficiently and wisely. We use this at Percolab, a consultancy company supporting social innovation and collaboration, based in Canada and France.
We developed Generative Decision Making Process, a consent based decision making process built on the Integrated decision making method of Holacracy with the culture and practice of Art of Hosting. We use it every week at Percolab. Our record is 19 strategic decisions in one hour!
The process requires a host, ideally, the host rotates from person to person. At Percolab everyone can run this type of decision making and we rotate organically depending on the day.
When first developing the practice it can be helpful for an organisation to invite in an external host for an initiation or supportive coaching to develop the internal skills.
Is the time ripe for the decision? Is the context clear? Is there information or data that needs to be gathered? Could an open conversation help develop the ripeness?
Hosting tips: You might need to offer the group one or two open conversation time slots to get to this point (ex. I am going to put the timer on for 10 minutes while you explore the topic in question). Offer supplementary time slots as necessary. You might need to conclude that the decision is not ripe, and this is ok. Listen in deeply and when you sense that there is a possible proposal in the air, the time is ripe. Invite the group to head into the next step.
Invite the group — would someone like to make an initial proposal? This will help the group move forward into action and there will be lots of opportunities to fine tune the proposal together.
Hosting tips: Help the proposer name a proposal in ideally one single sentence. Avoid the proposal spreading into multiple proposals. Ensure that the proposal is written for all to see (separate from the proposer) and repeat it out loud.
The group has the opportunity to voice questions to the proposer. The proposer has two options to answer — i) Provides the answer or ii) Says « Not specified » if the answer is unknown.
Hosting tips: If someone is speaking without a question (ie. reaction) remind him that is question period. Ensure that all questions are directed at the proposer and no one else intervenes. Avoid letting the proposer speak about anything further than the direct answer(keep it tight). Sense into when the clarification period is about to finish (ie. people are ready to react).
It is mandatory that each person (minus the proposer) expresses to the group their reaction to the proposal; the different voices and perspectives of all need to be heard. The proposer listens deeply and take notes. Afterwards the proposer will craft a new version of the proposal.
Hosting tips: Begin with the person who has the most reactive emotion and then go around, until everyone has shared their reaction. Make sure that the reaction is not about the proposer, but about the proposal itself — correct if necessary.
The proposer formulates a new version of the proposal in light of all that has been spoken. The host ensures that it is written and visible to all and reads it out loud.
Hosting tips: If you feel that the proposer might want to stay with the same proposal, remind her that she can. If you sense that the proposer needs support in formulating the second version, remind her that it is possible to ask for help — however do not rush into saying this.
An objection needs to express a risk or a backward movement for the organisation/initiative. All objections are expressed to the host who then decides if the objection is valid or not. If it is valid, then the proposer needs to integrate it into a new version of the proposal. (Then the objection round is repeated).
Hosting tips:Sometimes people might express personal concerns that are not in fact organisational risks. This needs to be differentiated. If it is fuzzy you may ask for help to the group. This is the hardest part of the process for the host.
Everyone visually confirms I can live with this decision by raising their thumb. This is a way of allowing all to see that everyone is fully onboard with this decision. If there is something that has not been spoken that needs to be it will show up because a person will be unable to raise his thumb. This can happen when (i) someone is struggling to find words to put on an idea that is important to them or (ii) someone is disengaging in the process (holding on to the possibility to question the decision in the hallway thereafter). Either way it will need to be addressed and the group needs to return to the part of the process that was not fully addressed.
Note: It is good to have visual confirmation as a cultural cue with which the process may be fast tracked. Someone makes a proposal and you can just do a quick check in to see right away if everyone could live with it.
Hosting tips: This is not a decision council and it is not an opportunity to lower thumbs and restart a process. It is simply a visual confirmation. If the process has run smoothly all thumbs should be raised. If someone is struggling to find voice for an objection kindly support the person and let them know that all information is important.
This sums up the process. A final word just like playing the piano, don’t expect to get it perfect first go. It does take some practice.
This article is also published on Medium in Percolab Droplets
For more than twenty years, Art of Hosting has modelled a way forward in collective intelligence all over the world. Come discover for yourself, during a 3 day intensive training in the beautiful south of France #AoHFrance
In addition to the usual fixed rate to cover the hosting and teaching costs (€1250 *) we are therefore innovating by also inviting you to participate in a shared economy experiment. This is a cooperative approach whereby the financial responsibility for the seminar is shared by the community of both participants and hosting team. For this seminar, we invite your willingness to open up to different ways of seeing ourselves and the world. In practice, this means that you will decide on the sum of money that represents the richness of these 3 days, taking account of the costs of the event, its value to you and your own financial resources. Payment will take place in two installments: a first instalment, the same for everyone, before the seminar, and the second at the end. 1st instalment: 450€, payable in advance on this website : he minimum contribution needed to organise and run the seminar (logistics, materials, communication, website) 2nd instalment: at the end of the seminar, you will choose the amount to honour and appreciate the work of the hosting team. We will be dedicating time and attention during the seminar to open this conversation – always an enriching experience – about the value of this seminar to you and the ways in which we as a community can cover the budget. You can find a more detailed explanation of this financial model and its ethos at http://leaderparticipatif.weebly.com
* Percolab est un organisme de formation exonéré de TVA. Cet enregistrement ne vaut pas agrément de l’Etat.
* Percolab is a TVA exempt training center