RJ: the asker of great questions, asked:
Do you have anything written on a weekend review process for a trading journal and trade chart markups?
Double loop learning requires review of work but I don’t have a well-defined process for weekend reviews.
I searched the chatroom and your essays but either didn’t use the right search terms or just didn’t find anything written.
Could you recommend some reading or anything else so I can develop an effective weekend process?
I replied: Try this on: this is what i find myself doing, over and over until someday I get it right:
0. Center ourselves on who we are and feel gratitude for the gift of life and consciousness to reflect on the wonder that is our Self and the world around us
1. Accept who we are and our desire to improve
2. Review what we aim to know, to do, to be (review goals and objectives)
3. Review the facts about what was done, including detailed performance stats as part of our ongoing study
4. Observe the slope of the trendlines and the volatility of our performance (all our trades and all our actions and all our feelings)
5. Review the forms and checklists to ensure discipline was performed; what did we overlook, where did we take shortcuts, and why?
6. Look for moments arising from the facts that seem to be important, trusting in our intuitions to nominate reflections
7. Follow the trails of reflection, connected to facts
8. Identify the A HA! moments
9. Conduct the 4 part learning journal exercise (A Ha moment, Reflection, Commitment to action, Results)
10. Commit our spirit and self to the next cycle of the wheel of improvement which continues to turn
this is what happens when i start writing after reading from the book of tales of Sun Wukong (The Monkey King)
A testimony to the power of water, in recent Australian floods.
Water level in rivers follows the Log-Pearson 3 probability distribution(see attached picture)
Tightly clustered around the mean, with little variation, and a limit on how far the left hand tail can go (ie “dry”)
The right hand tail though is much fatter than the standard normal distribution. Even though it remains a very low probability event, the consequences keep going; they don’t trail off to insignificance like in the standard normal
In forecasting and then living the future, we see something like the Log-Pearson 3 distribution in practice. We get accustomed to extrapolating from previous “normalish” experience which works so often that it becomes a reasonable technique and standard practice. Our monkey brain is poorly adapted for remembering the lessons of fat tails and properly estimating their effect on our plans
When the underlying process though is NOT a generator of standard normal, but rather has elements of chaos and uncertainty in it, we can get to experience the surprise of consequences which conform to power laws: unpredictable as to frequency of occurrence or seasonality, and unpredictable in terms of magnitude of consequence.
Our monkey brain will tend to discount the early indications of potential disaster as a combination of a number of well-known biases and fallacies. Remember that cognitive biases get turned into fallacies when you start experiencing the consequences. Ask the guy holding the camera in the video clip.
We often can’t know the degree of chaos in the underlying process until we discover results that suddenly and stubbornly refuse to conform to standard normal expectations.
In digiworld you get do overs.
In realworld, you get the opportunity to learn from other peoples’ catastrophes; you don’t get to learn from your own catastrophes.
This is the basis for Nassim Taleb‘s (“Black Swan”) discussion of 4th Quadrant problems: when our statistically based insights can actually expose us to far more risk than standard models can/will describe.
Taleb’s advice on living in the 4th Quadrant: What Is Wise To Do (Or Not Do) In The Fourth Quadrant
1) Avoid Optimization, Learn to Love Redundancy
2) Avoid prediction of remote payoffs—though not necessarily ordinary ones
3) Beware the “atypicality” of remote events.
4) Time. It takes much, much longer for a times series in the Fourth Quadrant to reveal its property.
5) Beware Moral Hazard.
6) Metrics. Conventional metrics based on type 1 randomness don’t work in the Fourth Quadrant.
- Black Swans (spectrum.ieee.org)
- “Nassim Taleb” and related posts (dailymarkets.com)
- Steven Poole’s non-fiction choice | Review (guardian.co.uk)
- Vivian Norris: A Walk Through Paris With Nassim Nicholas Taleb (huffingtonpost.com)
- Using R for Introductory Statistics, Chapter 5 (r-bloggers.com)
- Watch Ben Bernanke Get Ambushed With Question About Nassim Taleb (businessinsider.com)
- Books of The Times: Explaining the Modern World and Keeping It Short (nytimes.com)
- Reflections on strategic leadership (kansasreflections.wordpress.com)
- Black Swan may be one of those rare things (theglobeandmail.com)
- Reflections on “Sonic Boom” by Greg Easterbrook (kansasreflections.wordpress.com)
- Reflecting on a strategic inflection point at CGSC in Army education (kansasreflections.wordpress.com)
- Late night reflections on theory (kansasreflections.wordpress.com)
- Reflections on Starobin’s Five Roads to the Future (kansasreflections.wordpress.com)
- More reflections on Mintzberg on planning (kansasreflections.wordpress.com)
- Reflective learning in the markets (kansasreflections.wordpress.com)
- Thanksgiving reflection (kansasreflections.wordpress.com)
- “Just being alive is an extraordinary piece of good luck.” (or the very best pieces from Nassim Nicholas Taleb) (beinghuman.blogs.fi)
- Reflections on economy, China and education (kansasreflections.wordpress.com)
An executive summary of complexity theory
Johnson, N. (2007). Simply complexity: A clear guide to complexity theory. OneWorld Publications, Oxford.
Futurists are in the business of providing a structured vision of the future that includes variables, dynamics, processes, themes and values by which the future will unfold and how we can be successful getting there in our journey along the way.
Every futurist I’ve encountered describes the increasing complexity of today’s world and the certainty that the complexity will only increase going forward. I thought it would be useful to summarize the best book I’ve found so far that describes complexity theory in a useful way.
There is understandably senses definition for a theory which proposes to manage the unmanageable, or cleanly defined the undefinable. Neil Johnson offers the following working definition which is a reasonable start point for approaching this topic:
[complexity theory is ] “…the study of the phenomenon which emerged from a collection of interacting objects.” (Johnson, 2007, p.3)
The theory is especially concerned with groups of actors that are interacting by competing for resources.
It’s fair to ask of the theory of complexity: will it help us understand, predict and control complex situations?
Emergence is an important topic: it deals with behaviors and or qualities that arise without warning, without apparent central control and are properties of the entire system and environment and not of individual components. The wetness of water can be considered an emergent property or the flocking behavior of a large group of birds. Both have qualities and properties that cannot be found in individual agents.
The idea of emergence includes the idea of emergent design through adaptation to dynamic conditions. Consider the case of DNA versus intelligent design. Evolution by adaptive DNA is without apparent central control and develops without warning and usually in unpredictable ways with unforeseeable magnitudes of outcomes; intelligent design takes the opposite position in every way: central control according to a pre-established plan that goes according to design with foreseeable and specified outcomes.
Johnson offers the following components and behaviors that seem to apply to most complex systems and situations.
- The system contains a collection of many interacting objects.
- The behavior of agents/objects is affected by memory or feedback.
- Objects/agents can adapt their strategies based on memory or feedback.
- Exists in an open system, affected by the environment.
- the system appears to be alive.
- Filled with emergent phenomenon that are surprising and can be extreme.
- Absence of an invisible hand or central controller.
- There is a mix of orderly and disorderly behavior.
- Emergence (neilperkin.typepad.com)
- Navigating Complexity (cognitive-edge.com)
- John Tropea: Chaos and Complexity (Part One) (leader-values.com)
- understandable hypocrisy (cognitive-edge.com)
- Complexity Theory and Management Practice (downes.ca)
- What Is A Complexity Class? (rjlipton.wordpress.com)
- Steve Joyce: What makes a network a learning network? ” Learning Change – Learning networks of schools are a complex interaction between structures and activities. Each of the key features has a role to play and, like any complex system, the ways in whic (gfbertini.wordpress.com)
- Anti-Complexitism (scottaaronson.com)
- On P, NP, and Computational Complexity (cacm.acm.org)
- The puzzle that started complexity theory. (cs.nyu.edu)
- Reflecting on a strategic inflection point at CGSC in Army education (kansasreflections.wordpress.com)
- Late night reflections on theory (kansasreflections.wordpress.com)
- More reflections on Mintzberg on planning (kansasreflections.wordpress.com)
- Reflections on strategic leadership (kansasreflections.wordpress.com)
- More on the science of learning, social constructionism, language and teaching (kansasreflections.wordpress.com)
- Federal judge gives Obama opportunity to save face over healthcare (kansasreflections.wordpress.com)
- The Navy: making the other services look mature by comparison (kansasreflections.wordpress.com)
he called home last night to tell his mom that if he didnt call home on Thanksgiving day not to worry, just that he would be in the field
his dad (a retired officer) got on the phone to chew his ass for talking about operational information over an unsecured phone line
just a father and son, sharing the love
a lot of guys in my department are in that position
a number of the guys i was teaching this morning, upon graduation in 10 days will be assigned to duty in Korea next, in the normal course of events
i never have problems with my students being motivated to learn
It’s a real privilege to share classroom time and space with them
some folks don’t understand why i dont just trade full time; it’s hard to explain perhaps. but not really
it’s my dharma to teach here
dharma = soul/life duty; one’s “righteous duty” in the Hindu tradition
in 1985 on Thanksgiving Day, I was a 1st Lieutenant of Infantry, serving inside the DMZ in Korea, as the commander of Guard Post Ouellette, the most forward deployed unit in the Army, an arm’s length from N Korea; at 3AM, as was my habit, I was walking through the trenches (15 feet deep, carved thru rock) going around the perimeter to inspect all of my fighting positions, each one in the dark, filled with 1-2 guys on duty, on the lookout for infiltrators or whatever madness the N Koreans might be up to
in one of the bunkers i met my newest soldier, who had reported the night before, fresh from basic training; he was 17, and from Missouri, and this was the first time he had ever been out of the state except for attending basic training at Ft Benning
we watched thru heat-sensing night vision devices as a squad of N Koreans began infiltrating thru our sector; and per SOP, we reported it to higher and they began vectoring ambush squads and reaction forces to intercept
the rest of the night we spent in a pretty tense manner as the scene unfolded until just before dawn the squad returned to N Korea
the kid’s eyes were as big as saucers, and I thought about what it meant to me to be 28 yrs old, and in charge of 50 guys in that position, on Thanksgiving Day
that was the day i knew for sure that i was destined to be a soldier for as long as i could serve
never forgot that moment and what it meant to have that kid under my command and what my duty was
made all the hardships or sacrifices or whatever pretty easy to take
in fact made all sense of hardship disappear, because it was absorbed into the value of “duty” and service to others
so, I never ever saw service as a hardship or particularly difficult; it all seemed very natural as a part of my dharma
I will be praying in my own way for soldiers this weekend, as they live their own duty to self and others
With reflective learning, we examine our feelings and responses and then we look at how we act upon this newfound knowledge improving our self awareness and self-consciousness. Reflective journaling, them helps us to develop at to different levels simultaneously.
this growth and self awareness of self consciousness is important to the trader, because the individual psychology of the trader is such an important component of almost every kind of trading system. A shorter term your trading system operates in, the more important your psychology becomes. Reflective learning, therefore is an important component of building your traders toolkit.
Reflective journaling is a powerful technique for improving your reflective learning.
Here are six tangible benefits you can expect to achieve:
- Your focus and attention will improve. Concentration and attention are important qualities of good traders.
- You will refine your beliefs and develop an inquiring mind. Knowing your beliefs explicit label improve your ability to select trading systems that fit you.
- You will exercise both your creative and critical thinking skills. You need to be creative to come up with new trading ideas, and then critical in order to find weak spots and blind spots and leverage points.
- You will improve your discipline. Discipline will help you survive difficult times as a trader and will give you the strength of will to continue to execute under conditions of uncertainty.
- You will learn to act on evidence that has been weighed and measures. Adopting a scientific frame of mind will help you eliminate emotions from your trading where they are harmful and what you focus on results instead.
- You will be growing your body of knowledge. There’s no substitute for broad experience in the markets; you need diverse vacationing your portfolio and in your professional knowledge.
- You will learn to make more and more distinctions. one of the definitions of intelligence is the ability to make more and more distinctions between concepts, context and situations.
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I am naturally skeptical about charismatic leaders, but I have seen its power in action.
He spoke in a very relaxed manner, hardly the tone you might expect for a guy getting ready to take on the most politically sensitive mission around, one frought with peril, and which could go wrong in a thousand different, easily imaginable ways
It was surprisingly intimate moment, as he spoke humorously with and about his aide de camp and some of the other majors in his morning running group
he spoke frankly about the challenges ahead and the values we were going to use to see our way thru the fog and danger.
after about 10 minutes there was a palpable feeling that we were in good hands at the top and that we were going to prevail, and that if there a way thru the forest we were going to find it
it was the opposite of demagoguery, yet charismatic in its own way in that it was authentic, and appropriate and somehow “fit” who we all were at that moment in time
So, I am intrigued by charisma, where it comes from, how it works, why it works, and all that jazz
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Reflecting on self-directed leadership in a military college environment (an action research approach)
The purpose of this assignment is reflect upon my learning through this course and to describe what I am doing to provide for the development of leadership capabilities in those who look to me for direction and guidance. My professional work centers on preparing Army organizational leaders for a world of complexity and uncertainty, and specifically in designing a teachable curriculum that satisfies both the accreditation system and the needs of individual students and faculty. As a result of many cycles of action research involving a variety of stakeholders, I have been designing curriculum that seeks to maximize the opportunities for student and faculty Voice in all phases of the classroom experience, including: design, preparation, delivery, assessment and follow-through. Because the strategy represents a significant shift from the traditional methodology, I am finding many leadership challenges and opportunities throughout the program. I will explore a number of important themes and strategies in this paper.
Chaos and complexity theory point towards a need for multiple points of view and an accommodating culture and practice in order to account for uncertainty in the world. Leaders set the stage for an organization that seeks to thrive under these conditions and therefore become primary leverage points in setting the conditions for success. Because our students are not objects at a distance, not third-party objects of study but rather thinking, feeling human beings with insights and experiences and discretion, we have shifted our design team composition to include routinely groups of students in the form of focus groups and co-researchers in the action research tradition. Incorporating students in the design of lessons that will be taught that academic year represents a paradigm shift.
I am shifting our feedback system to incorporate more qualitative assessments from both faculty and students. This is a departure from our standard practice of relying exclusively on quantitative instruments. Our new feedback system for programmatic assessment is much more from the mixed methods tradition, which seems to me to be central in going forward in our efforts to understand and appreciate complexity. My intent is that the mixed methods approaches in the classroom will expose students and faculty to this methodology as a way to prepare them with a useful tool beyond the boundaries of the college environment.
I am systematically pursuing outreach and connections with faculty and curriculum designers from other teaching departments in order to establish a network-centric approach to integrated curriculum design. This is taking the form of a leaderless, self-directed workgroup, with group norms and processes emerging to take the place of formal assigned individual hierarchical leadership. This self-directed work group presents recommendations of consensus to the traditional leadership of the College and is proving to be more and more influential with each successful project.
Because collaborative and adaptive leadership represents a shift in the cultural and operational perspective of the college, students and faculty, it is necessary to build up a resource and reference base that can be used to justify and support our inquiries. We are building a set of wiki’s and blogs that are interactive in order to prepare for our new lineup of lessons, to support collaborative learning inside the lessons dynamically, to document the results of our in class inquiry and to expand the knowledge base both for future lessons and for the field force in general. There is evidence to show that our students and faculty are getting the hang of this technique. This is reshaping the way we approach lesson preparation and our resource base and it is carrying over into our distance learning and remote site teaching strategy. Remote site teachers now have access to our growing experience base on the wiki and blog and can use that in their classroom for air where they do not possess personal experience and expertise.
Finally, I am working with interested others in formalizing our new approaches into college policy and SOP in order to lock in our games in the college’s infrastructure. Without these changes, initiatives are only as enduring as the energy of the interested parties. By incorporating them into our explicit rules and policies, we can institutionalize changes and ratchet our way towards success.
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remember that Hunt is writing his synthesis in 1996, and he comes from the leadership discipline, not education or cognitive neuroscience. He is good when it comes to synthesizing existing literature, but his excursions into the future of “what-if” are not very convincing.
There has been a lot of important work done on the very issues of rationality vs intuition, on (control & prediction) vs (emergence & adaptation), but it hasnt come from the land of leadership.
I have been doing a ton of research in this area, and in fact the limitations of rationality, and the implications for leaders, leadership skills, organizations and culture, strategic planning and operational execution are precisely the reason i started this program.
my mission is to figure out what leaders need to know, be, and do to manage problems & opportunities outside of the bounds of rationality and convention, and then design and deliver a teachable curriculum that prepares students and faculty for fuzzy situations and coalitions. where goals, cultures, standards, criteria, resources, time horizons are much closer to chaos than order, and with no interest among the stakeholders to move away from the apparent chaos.
I take Heifetz as representative of the state of leadership which has apparently spent the last 2 decades trying to micro-refine the individual models of leadership, and which in my opinion have been left behind by the nature of the challenges for organizations. Even seen as a consultants handbook, Heifetz is comfortably situated inside conventional, stable organizations trying to tweak their way to success.
Back to your point.
The rationality vs intuition debate is best developed from the world of decision-making and cognition. The essential and representative authors to read are Gerd Gigerenzer & Gary Klein, on intuition and heuristic decisionmaking. William Poundstone’s “Labyrinths of Reason” is an excellent introduction to the limitations of rationality. James March on decision-making systems is foundational. Mintzberg is pretty good on recognizing the implications Tversky & Kahneman’s Nobel prize winning work on cognitive biases and behavioral finance is the top level theory basis (spanning 40 years), and all of these guys connect back to the incomparable Herb Simon’s bounded rationality from the 1940s, and which still is some of the best writing and thinking in this area.
The most promising area of current research is found in the fields of emergence, chaos and complexity theory (including complex adaptive systems) but there are miles to go to connect these ideas to the leadership disciplines
So, i think Hunt was intuiting that something else was needed, but hadn’t connected to that body of work.
There is another whole discipline that’s waiting to be incorporated: education, especially adult education, and that’s where i seem to be centered: in the preparation of leaders for these new demands/considerations, while satisfying the constraints of an accreditation system which values certainty, objectivity and standardization.
it seems to me that education lags about 20-25 years behind the cutting edge, as accreditation’s fascination with certainty, objectivity and standardization reflects what was thought to be essential in business and commerce 2 decades ago. So education is just discovering that which the rest of the world is abandoning (or at least moving well beyond)
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The purpose of this paper is to examine my current leadership skills. I will describe and reflect upon a recent curriculum project that I was in charge of at the US Army command and Gen. staff College. I will use a lens of the Bolman and Deal four Frameworks to evaluate my leadership skills in each frame and look for opportunities to extend my skill set in each (Bolman and Deal, 2008). Since my project is continuing into a second year, I will use this paper to prioritize and guide my professional development.
2. Description of the Situation
The U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas is the centerpiece of the Army leadership development focusing on field grade level, organizational leaders. The year-long course is divided into approximately equal thirds. The first third is the core curriculum received by all Army majors and focuses on critical and creative thinking, leadership, history, change management and basic organizational level doctrine. The middle third, known as the Advanced Operations Course (AOC), is focused on 1500 resident officers whose career path will take them back into tactical field units in leadership positions. The final third is an elective period where students can meet their own particular educational needs based on interest and follow-on assignments.
This past year ,the middle third of the course underwent an extensive redesign and reengineering process which represents the largest single change to the curriculum since its current form was originally implemented five years ago. I was responsible for approximately 1/3 of the redesign program which focused on the addition of new material concerning the largest educational gap in the Army as identified by senior Army leaders, field unit commanders, faculty and students. I received a set of ambitious and broad design principles from the college’s senior leaders and assembled a team of students, faculty, curriculum designers, and recruited experts from Army proponent organizations in order to create a teachable block of instruction that addressed the identified gaps
3. Desired outcome for the situation:
We defined two dimensions for our endstate: organizational outcomes for the college, and curriculum outcomes to address the educational gap. Our participatory action research design team, consisting of curriculum developers, faculty and students identified the top six desired organizational outcomes, as follows:
- Produce a quality staff recommendation for AOC force generation curriculum and an elective for “spillover” material
- Produce an interdepartmental “application- level “curriculum fully integrated through the AOC Working Group process
- Employ an inquiry- based research process that models the principles of group-learning in real time, which can serve as an example for other inquiries in important topics
- Establish an infrastructure that supports student learning while in attendance, and after graduation as a reachback
- Create a knowledge base that focuses on support of our student and faculty population, and which synthesizes quality research & knowledge from Army staff and support organizations
- Document the staff process that will support our ongoing accreditation and scholarship standards
Our desired student curriculum outcomes were:
- Students applied the Army process map to build ready forces
- Students are aware of concepts, challenges, and best practices
- Students and faculty contribute to the growing body of professional knowledge
- Students use a team oriented approach
- College provides a reach back capability for graduates to stay current
- Curriculum establishes linkage to lessons in the Core and Parallels
- Create opportunities in electives for deeper inquiry
4. The Bolman and Deal Four Frameworks summary: Bolman and Deal created a four framework approach to leadership situations, which enable change agents to systematically view multiple approaches to an issue. Here is a summary of the four frames and a characterization of leaders (Clark, 2004)
a. Structural frame: emphasizes creativity and seeks to establish clear goals and roles and coordinated activity established by authority policies and rules. The structural leader is a social architect whose leadership style is analysis and design.
b. Human resource frame: focuses on the needs and motives of individuals who live and work in social systems, and considers opportunities for participation and shared decision-making as a way to enlist commitment and involvement. The human resource leader is a catalyst and servant who looks to support advocate and empower.
c. Political frame: based on negotiated collaborative political structures aiming to find trade-offs for scarce resources, and emphasizes conflict resolution and balancing interests. Political leaders are advocates who seek coalition building and the distribution and balancing of power and interests.
d. Symbolic frame: focuses on culture, meaning, believes in faith by examining and supporting since making through symbols, metaphors, stories and other narratives. The symbolic leader is a prophet who seeks to inspire through multimedia communication and visioning.
5. Skills used:
a. Structural frame: bureaucratic structure and existing policy were important parts of my leadership strategy as I sought to leverage existing infrastructure. For changes to remain permanent and meaningful, it was clear to me that our design group had to create infrastructure changes. In many cases this involves a carryover into the political frame as we considered how to build coalitions to gain approval for our structural changes. As much as possible we tried to make our recommendations fit within the existing formats of college policy in order to ensure we did not jeopardize our accreditation, which is an important value for the college.
b. Human resource frame: from the beginning of the program design sessions, I made sure that we kept our discussions centered on students and their educational needs and outcomes by emphasizing the concept of student Voice. After the first meeting, it was clear that we also needed to incorporate faculty Voice in order to accommodate a variety of educational methods which in existing policy was difficult because of the needs for a standardized curriculum for accreditation. This proved to be a very difficult set of values to sustain throughout the design process because the natural tendencies of developers and faculty were to revert to traditional methods with which they were comfortable. Having students as members of the design and development teams, however, ensured that this remained visible throughout the process.
c. Political frame: this turned out to be a crucial component of the entire process. Because of initial successes with our wiki and blog, and the early incorporation of Army-staff level action officers, we got a lot more senior leadership attention than I expected. This made the project a high-stakes payoff and it quickly became an area where competing values emerged as teaching departments lobbied for time and resources to reflect their goals. At the same time, when we used a political process to negotiate the structure and content of the curriculum, there were many faculty who considered it business as usual. My opinion was that only a political process would allow us to integrate the multiple perspectives. I could have chosen to have our directorate’s position dominate the proceedings but it was clear to me that an integrated curriculum was necessary for the students. This was a position that students also shared, which helped me carry the day.
d. Symbolic frame: throughout the project I tried to emphasize the importance of the top down and bottom’s up gap analysis which pointed to this set of curriculum topics as being of central importance to the Army. By connecting the purpose to the bottom’s up and top-down vision to establish its relevance and create the energy to see us through the change. I created top-level vision diagrams in order to highlight in a visual way the broad outlines of the program and used very visible blog postings to maintain progress reports for the population at large. The senior leader in the college, the Deputy Commandant, was an important source of symbolic strength as he had committed fully to our vision and endstate.
6. Skills that could have been used:
a. Structural frame: I could have emphasized more interim written reports to lock-in procedures and SOP changes during the year-long program, instead of waiting for the conclusion to make permanent infrastructure changes. I wasn’t aggressive enough in incorporating administrative managers from the higher headquarters in our process in order to enlist them in our change program. I should have offloaded more technical work to others in order to maintain my focus on the creative and guidance processes. I could have used more faculty from different departments in building the interdepartmental curriculum .
b. Human resource frame: I should have committed more group resources to the faculty development program once we had completed the design and production of the new curriculum. I expected that the lesson plans could stand on their own and being trained in the usual way, and I was surprised at the amount of pushback. I should not have been surprised, however, knowing my peers, and more resources in this area would’ve been helpful. I could have used more student and faculty Voice in telling the story of our change program, instead of using my own personal blog and wiki reports; this would have placed the ownership for our program more in the hands of students and faculty and less in our group. I could have spent more resources on providing timely feedback to students and faculty based on their design inputs, as I’m not sure I did enough in that area to satisfy them. I could have emphasized more of the value of flexibility in our central design; we had a lot compared to our traditional methods, but I don’t think I emphasized enough what we had achieved. I should have put more effort into rubrics and examples from different faculty members of the design team in order to demonstrate our commitment to flexibility in the classroom.
c. Political frame: because I enjoy the political dimension of this program, I was too willing to frame this as individual or group winning and losing compared to the status quo; I should have put more focus on strategy and tactics and cooperative solution finding than in winning and losing. I should have planned for more interim rewards for cooperative and supportive behavior both for members of my team and from among the faculty that voluntarily supported the effort. I should have spent more energy on changing the mindset of the “warring state” to one of the cooperative tribe with respect to integrating departmental issues; the “warring states” is the default orientation of most interdepartmental programs for proposed change. I should have created a central interdepartmental design team in the form of an alliance to maintain momentum across the college. I could have spent more energy incorporating team members from other military colleges above and below us in the hierarchy in order to create a continuous wave of change.
d. Symbolic frame: I could have used more of our inside group-produced artifacts in the lesson plans themselves in order to improve the acceptance of the new lesson plans. I could have made better use of our wiki and blog sites to support collaborative design and collaborative teaching in the classroom. I should have used more strategic communications avenues and media to bring students on board with the program for change before we went into execution. I could have used more partnership programs with field units to demonstrate the relevance of our material to the students follow on assignments.
7. Lessons learned: I found this reflective exercise to be very useful in generating insights for me. Here are my ten most important takeaways.
a. In an interdepartmental, complex process it’s important to publish everything with transparency and trust everybody.
b. It’s not enough to ask for feedback from customers or in this case students and faculty, it’s important to engage in multi-loop dialogue and demonstrate a willingness to adapt to their requirements.
c. Tell the story at every opportunity to everyone that you can find, because the accumulation of small strategic communications events all add up to strategic success in the long run.
d. Leave no stone unturned in enlisting support even if you don’t think you need it or you think you have more than enough. There will come a time of surprise when you need every extra resource and it will be too late then to try to find them.
e. Reinforce the main effort in every action, even if it is only a supporting or shaping effort. Because resources are limited, everything must support the endstate.
f. Aggressively look for connections between departments, teams, resources, opportunities; in a network environment you never know where the next connection will come from that can make the difference between success and failure.
g. The moments of positive emotion and inspiration must be followed and supported by long periods of preparation and perspiration.
h. Question the boundaries that seemed reasonable early in the design, because you may find that your initial efforts have changed the game.
i. Reinforce the essential partnerships between key stakeholders in order to define success as group success.
j. Be open to unexpected opportunities to achieve unplanned successes. This is an extension of the idea of looking for connections. Sometimes the moment will show you unexpected treasures if you’re open to picking them up and making them yours.
Bolman, L., & Deal, T. (2008).Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice and leadership. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.
Clark, D. R. (2004), Bolman and Deal’s Four Framework Approach. Retrieved March 7, 2010
Representative Army capstone documents defining the requirements for new concepts in leadership.
TRADOC, (2009). A leader development strategy for a 21st century Army.
TRADOC Pam 525-5-500. (2008). Commander’s Appreciation and Campaign Design.
Army Regulation 6-22 (2008): Army Leadership
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Reflecting on Heifetz (2009): The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, and Hunt (1994) Leadership:A new synthesis
Heifetz et. al. Ch 6 notes (carry over from last week)
Heifetz continues to discuss authority’s role in achieving adaptive leadership but draws the distinction between authority and leadership. This separation causes him conceptual problems. He describes authority figures involved in controlling and allocating resources, negotiating, and connecting goals with values. If these actions, decisions and choices are not central to any common sense definition of leadership, then I don’t know what does, but these fall outside of Heifetz is definition of adaptive leadership. It’s convenient for his message but does not connect to the world as I know. This matters because Heifetz positions himself as a giver of practical advice and common sense. So it seems to me that commonsense definitions of normal words should be applied whenever possible.
They have an important discussion of being successful in politics in order to be successful adaptive leaders. They suggest thinking of politics as a web of stakeholders. An alternative metaphor for politics is that of warring tribes. The difference in these two mental models is significant when you consider how to approach another member of the community to engage in pursuit of common goals.
Networks are designed to operate together; warring tribes must be enticed and protected against at the same time. Their subsequent discussions of how to successfully engage in politics actually uses the warring tribes model more so than their stated model of networks. This is a problem for a book that does not emphasize the theoretical constructs that support their techniques and tips.
This chapter is big on specifics and checklists but is not as insightful in its discussion of intangibles in social settings, which is surprising, given their focus on exactly those settings as being suitable for adaptive leadership.
On page 91 they emphasize the importance of making interpretations about the behavior of others, but without acknowledging the complexity and inherent uncertainty of just such an activity. I think they should eat their own cooking by discussing how important the communication between members of the network or tribes is in order to resolve matters of interpretation. The Harvard Negotiation Project provides a nice framework that transcends both of these discussed mental models when it comes to effective mutual cooperation between different groups.
The concept of “maximum sustainable rate of change” of a given system came to mind as they described the practical and realistic limits of change when you involve multiple groups of stakeholders. I thought that part was well done. The idea of a “hange space” came to mind as a visualization of how much room you have to navigate as you take on the adaptive challenge and that the boundaries are defined by the edge of fear of loss and sense of risk provided by all the participants.
Heifetz chapter 7 notes:
it struck me that many of the descriptions of adaptive leadership would work equally well for the concept of learning organizations . There is a strong connection between what Heifetz suggests about building an adaptive culture and all the work that has been done over the years on learning organizations. It continues to be a shortcoming of this book that other theoretical and practical contributions are not acknowledged. If their work is uninformed by the literature on learning organizations, they are not marginal ; if they deliberately elected to exclude, then no more needs to be said about their work.
I would like to see more discussion in this book about the balance between reward and risk when it comes to encouraging people to try new behaviors or adopt a different frame. They described the idea of loss avoidance and risk properly , but the connection to the benefits that could occur if we are successful has not been made. This kind of discussion would be especially important when in chapters 8-12, they describe enlisting the support of authority figures to help create conditions for adaptive learning.
The discussion of the four meetings that occur when every meeting is held can be found in the action research literature but was a good synthesis of those ideas, once again without attribution. Unfortunately I believe their discussion of meetings and how to leverage them fall into the category of tactical techniques and do not describe a strategic approach of using all modes of communication to present the business case for this being an adaptive opportunity and not just another technical exercise. I think they spend too much time on the individual as hero and not on creating conditions inside an organizational culture. I feel like they are giving us snacks and not a meal.
On page 103 I think they should realize that there is a difference between having shared responsibility for a process and the techniques required to truly conduct cross team problem solving. These are two separate but related ideas.y
It is ironic that in chapter 7 the describe the value of sticking to your guns as suboptimal, but in later chapters they will describe the importance of maintaining your position in the face of opposition. Like all good platitudes it has its equal and opposite platitude which sometimes applies. They do not make the distinction of how to choose which platitude is appropriate.
I do like their discussion of building the bench and creating adaptive leadership capacity at all times and not waiting for an adaptive crisis to begin these deliberations. This however has everything to do with what they call the authority figures establishing direction and purpose. I think because they want to create a distinction between adaptive leaders and authority figures, they can’t go in that direction and simply call authority figures leaders. I think they are trapped in their own semantics.
The omission of a discussion of the literature on high reliability organizations is a great shortcoming of this chapter when they’re talking about building an adaptive organization. There are decades of theoretical and practical contributions made by scholars like Carl Weick which are overlooked.
Chapter 8 making interpretations
Heifetz describes effective visions as possessing a high degree of accuracy. I offer an additional insight which is that sometimes the feelings and fuzzy concepts are more important, particularly when we’re making important decisions with our emotional brain’s and the feeling becomes more important than the details; people want to feel safe and excited and not necessarily need needing to know all of the details which come from accuracy. Think about the importance of impressionistic painting in terms of creating a mood and atmosphere which is accomplished precisely without accurate details.
I agree with their position that learning is pain on page 115. I like their discussion about reframing tension away from the personal frame of reference and moving it to the systemic frame of reference. By showing that complex systems inevitably must have friction points that can be managed and adjusted we can remove some of the interpersonal challenges to adaptive change.
The table on page 117 that shows the transition between technical and adaptive challenges is a nice treatment of what other scholars have called the locus of control. This can be a helpful way to conduct reframing.
Dr. Michael Roberto has done some good work on classifying default organizational processes as cultural artifacts. He describes the “cultures of yes”, the “cultures of no”, and the “cultures of maybe” as being default responses to new ideas and stressors. So it is possible to have a default response that is process oriented as well as what Heifetz described as an interpretive scheme. It’s not just the content, it’s our default way of processing that can present problems for adaptation.
The idea on page 122 of auditioning your ideas has everything to do with increasing informal authority which is normally considered to be leadership and influence but which in Heifetz’ definitions falls outside of the domain of leadership. This continues to be a problem with their language.
Chapter 9: designing effective interventions
the Heifetz model only seems to account for linear projects that can move from phase to phase through time. Although they acknowledge the need to plan for the course corrections I don’t see evidence of multiple loop learning and processing.
There is a lot of literature on the challenges of design versus planning, which come down to the idea that when you know what to do and what success clearly looks like, then you can plan. When you have uncertainty and must explore and experiment, or adapt in Heifetz’s language, what you do is design which works from potential solutions back towards problem definition and identification. In this sense, design is the exact opposite of planning. This does not fit into the linear processing model that Heifetz offers and is the example of another shortcoming of ignoring the theoretical models that apply in this area.
Chapter 10: acting politically
this chapter is not convincing, because they’re talking about increasing their informal and formal authorities through political techniques. While this may be tactically effective in the short term, playing normal political games doesn’t seem to be a strategy that will change the existing power structures that connect multiple groups and have created the status quo. Playing the same old games shouldn’t be able to lead you to new results.
Heifetz continues to use the language of opposition battle and warfare such as can be found on page 128 through 130. If language is how we frame problems, then using the language of opposition and warfare is unlikely to produce the surprising alliances that their techniques call for.
Heifetz suggests that adaptive leaders should project uncertainty right after he tells us how uncertain adaptive change can be. In this case, wouldn’t it be proper to interpret a projection of certainty as a lie or being unaware of the situation? I don’t see how he can have it both ways.
I strongly disagree with his advice to manage authority, which I consider to be a euphemism for saying that your authority figures are too stupid to understand the reward to risk estimate of the situation that you have made. If your reasoning and insights are sound, then we can expect senior leaders who have been tempered by experience and expertise to appreciate the nuance of your position. They didn’t get to be senior leaders by being stupid. Treating them as manageable objects is not a sound way to enlist their support. I believe it will make you be seen as a political gamester and not one who is genuinely concerned with building new capability and educating everyone around you. I think their advice is dangerous.
Chapter 11 orchestrating conflict
I like their idea of the musical metaphor of creative dissonance to encourage more rapid learning. Studies have shown that by slightly increasing our normal stress level we actually improve learning effectiveness. Too much stress leads to learning breakdowns, but not enough stress prevents rapid learning. There is a sweet spot which is elegantly described as creative dissonance.
I thought it was funny that step for of the seven steps to orchestrating conflict is entitled “orchestrating conflict”.
This chapter once again emphasizes the importance of getting by in upfront from authority figures, but once again this falls into the normal behaviors associated with authority and influence which they explicitly exclude from their definition of adaptive leadership.
On page 154 they use the language of “bad guys” to describe the opposition. This interpretation once again I believe is a tactical blunder because it locks you into a we-they situation and prevents establishing common ground. The whole book has a subtext of manipulation and lack of transparency in engaging other people and other groups which I find distasteful. I believe transparency and education and sharing the nuances of your insights to be more effective and honest in dealing with adaptive change.
On page 154-156 Heifetz extols the positive qualities of off-site meetings, as if he thinks that off-site conferences really accomplish anything in the lifecycle of a typical organization. In my experience in reading, it is far more common for line workers managers and leaders to treat offsites as an annual boondoggle that have nothing to do with the day-to-day operations of their organization. Most of the time in my experience, people can’t wait to get back to the office to resume their work and catch up on what they missed while they were at the off-site. This is a common complaint that can be found in the strategic planning literature, which is not referenced in this book.
Chapter 12: building an adaptive culture
I agree with the importance of developing leadership capacity inside the organization as much as possible, and all the time, and as a stated goal in value of the organization. I believe you cannot afford to wait for the crisis to start developing your leaders. It needs to be part of your ongoing daily focus.
I don’t think they say enough however about balancing risk and rewards when it comes to the idea of honoring risk-taking and experimentation. Not every risk is a good risk. There is a distinction between a business man’s risk and gambling. There is such a thing as a manageable risk whose reward does not justify it.
I find this concept to be of extreme interest to some of the most adaptive businesses that I know: international money managers and hedge funds, whose business survival requires them to be adaptive and whose central focus is precisely on understanding the relationship between risk and reward and effective decision-making. I find this lack of insight troubling in a book dedicated to building adaptive capabilities.
Hunt, chapter 3
the extended multilevel leadership model is complex enough for me to enjoy it. I like the distinctions he makes in the time frames and organizational hierarchy and the relationship between cultures and values and capabilities and the idea of critical tasks that are central to organizational survival. I’m looking forward to seeing how these connections relate.
On page 3100 says that organizational culture is derived from societal culture. I would ask him to go deeper there because we know that there are more than one culture in an organization and certainly within a society and so it is not a matter of mathematical duration, but one that looks more like evolution.
I would question his assertion on page 34 which says that leadership decisions become more complex and higher levels. I believe that the purpose of organizational hierarchies or to simplify subordinate situations in order to provide manageable variables and manageable choices for higher levels of the organization.
As an example, Gen. Eisenhower’s leadership decision was difficult, but came down to answering a single question on D-Day: do we invade or not. There was implied complexity at the lower levels but which were beyond his direct level of management or leadership to consider. There is a limit to human cognitive processing capability and necessarily systems must reduce the complexity of the world to manageable levels for humans to make decisions. I hope to see a discussion of this nuance later in the book.
the discussion of the incommensurability and critical pluralism on pages 53 through 55, remind me of the theoretical discussions associated with mixed methods research. The parallels are striking. I attribute the lack of that discussion in this book to the fact that this was written in the early 90s, some years before the emergence of the mixed methods theoretical debate. We know that even in 2009 and 2010 from Creswell, that this remains an open issue: how to blend, if possible, research methods and insights from two distinct paradigms
I like the distinction between leaders and managers in this model, which I think is what Heifetz is dancing around when he distinguishes between technical and adaptive challenges. Simply accepting this well known division of labor would eliminate much of Heifetz is unique approach to leadership.
I would ask Hunt the following question about layered cultures which he discusses on page 59. He says that deeply held cultural values perhaps can only be approached through very subjective measures because they deal with deep-seated beliefs. I’m not sure why this has to be so, because it seems to me that if these beliefs are fundamental and persistent than evidence of their existence should be easy to find and objectively measured. It seems to me that centrally held organizational values should be identifiable from multiple perspectives in which case a subjective approach is not the only way to get to them.
Overall I enjoyed chapter 3 and 4 in Hunt, although like me, he would benefit from the work of an editor.
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