Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Today it was an insightful day in the structures of an organization. The delivery of the class was interesting…it was like going to a film club.

We watched scenes from “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s nest” where to avoid prison McMurphy pretends to be insane and serves time in an asylum ward controlled by Nurse Ratched who rules the asylum with an iron fist, controlling every aspect until the inmates form coalitions to counter her will. We looked at the nature of organizational politics. It is a jungle, where might is right, the big animals eat the small ones, Where 3 is 2 against 1! So coalition is the recipe for survival, especially in time of scarce resources. The leaders sharpen a competitive spirit, followers act in solidarity. It can be quite a depressing environment…especially if you do not how to survive in the lion’s den!

How many “Nurses Ratched” can you count in your organization?

Hint! A coping strategy: “EVLN”: If you have trouble to fit in this frame here are your choices:
E for Exit, get out!
V for Voice: speak up, ask for help, build coalitions.
L for loyalty, work with the system.
N for Neglect, psychologically check-out while remaining in position.

The choice is yours!

Ghandi’s life was the inspiration for the next film clip. The 1982 Oscar grand slam featured Ghandi when he decides to challenge the Royal monopoly on salt-making in India through civil disobedience. The movie was full of symbols – compelling signs with a significance. Salt as independence, the white clothing as solidarity, the sunset as the end of the British empire, the lighthouse as symbol of hope …..

Ghandi an inspiration for all, representing a compelling value system, embodying justice and shared beliefs. He brings inspiration and a sense of authenticity. Ghandi’s equivalent in an organization is the “fearless leader” one who inspires confidence, one that we would follow blindly, who provides the glue that holds the organization together. Quite compelling….who in your organization inspires you?

“Five Easy Pieces” features a brilliant Jack Nicholson, a lapsed pianist on his way to see his ailing father who stops with a group of friends at a roadside café to have a meal…. Things quickly go wrong when he demands a toast…. not on the menu. The waitress refuses to “break the rules” and Nicholson shows the best of his acting! Should the waitress have been more flexible, and Nicholson willing to meet half way?

This clip was meant to show us the importance of human development, should the waitress have been better trained? But also I wonder: Should Nicholson learn some manners? Do we think we can fix all with some training?

“Twelve O’Clock High” a 1949 film about a military operation during world War II showed the importance of firm leadership in an organizational structure.

Every organizations has in some measure all of these aspects, the question is do we know how to balance? How to adjust according to organizational need? Do we have too much of a jungle? Too little inspirational culture?

And if so….what are we going to do about it?

Lately, we’ve been receiving many requests from people who would like to write documents collaboratively.

This is not the first time we write about this topic: Meena published a general overview of collaborative writing approaches, and Silvia Renn shared tips on writing proposals with Google Docs.

Having been involved in the Google Apps Case Study and currently in CGXchange 2.0, I’d like to share my experience with Google Docs and Google Sites since I’ve found these tools are helping me and the ICT-KM team improve the way we work.  In particular, I’m sharing tips for organizing comments and edits so that every collaborator feels comfortable with the tools and the collaborative writing process.

Enjoy and share your experience and feedback!


Today while a group was being coached by media professionals, others played a team building game where a group of us seating around a table was given a set of shapes – two pieces were missing from the set and we had to identify the missing pieces in 30 minutes. Piece of cake you would say…yeah, right… the only caveat…we were blindfolded. It was a horrific experience. We had to wear the blindfold from the very beginning, even when we were given instructions – for me this was the first moment of frustration….. I realized I cannot follow instructions if I cannot see – some may argue I cannot follow instructions period, but that’s not the point here.

Three teams were playing. At the end of the period, and despite an extension of 10 minutes nobody could identify the missing pieces. Frustrated, we took a break to re-gather a few minutes later to debrief on what we could have done differently…on what we could have done as a team to get to success. Bear in mind, the groups were extremely diverse, we never worked together before, we came from different countries, different background, very few were English mother tongue…. This is an occasion where diversity did not help. We did not have a common understanding, we did not have common grounds, we had different ways to express ourselves, referring to a piece in our hands as “This” does not help when you cannot see. We did not identify a leader….we did not spend any time agreeing on what the task at hand was…we all started from our understandings and the assumptions others understood the same, we did not spend enough time checking on progress as time was passing, we just concentrated on the task at hand, we set to work immediately, trying to get the job done without planning, without agreeing on roles, on responsibilities..just charging ahead…. A big lesson, learned at the expense of a frustrating afternoon.

Working with blindfold made me think of working with colleagues virtually….when you cannot see a person everything seems so much more difficult!



Ever heard of Myers-Briggs personality type indicators? Well, they are very popular tools to assess what your preferences are in terms of how you express yourself.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) instrument was developed by Isabel Myers and Katharina Briggs as an application of Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types.

This theory suggests that we have opposite ways of
– gaining energy (Extraversion and Introversion),
– gathering or becoming aware of information (Sensing or Intuition)
– deciding or coming to a conclusion about information (Thinking or Feeling) and
– dealing with the world around us (Judging or Perceiving).

If you prefer Extraversion you focus on the outside world to get energy through interacting with other people. You are gregarious, expressive, active…
If you prefer Introversion, you focus on the inner world and get energy through reflecting on information, ideas, concepts. You may like spending time alone, to reflect, decompress, there is so much of the external environment you can take in at once.
If you prefer Sensing, you notice and trust facts, details, and present realities. You are realistic, practical…

If you prefer Intuition, you trust interrelationships, theories and future possibilities. You are abstract, conceptual, original..
If you prefer Thinking, you make decisions using logical, objective analysis. You are reasonable, critical…

If you prefer Feeling, you make decisions to create harmony by applying person-centered values. You are empathetic, accommodating, accepting…
If you prefer Judging, you tend to be organized and orderly and to make decisions quickly. You are systematic, planful, methodical….and probably you can tell by looking at your closet or your desk at work! A typical Judging type will look for the 5 basic steps to becoming more flexible 

If you prefer Perceiving you tend to be flexible and adaptable and to keep your options open as long as possible. You are spontaneous, open-ended…. You do not need to plan a holiday in advance…. You just go with the flow!

It is assumed that each of us has, in one measure or another, all 8 types, but we have a natural preference for 4 of them, just like we have a natural preference to use the right or the left hand. There is no right or wrong…this is not an instrument to measure your skills, but rather a way to help you identify your style and to appreciate other people’s style so you may better understand why they act in a certain way.

I first took the MBTI about 10 years ago I was in a very different job, very different circumstances (not last I was 10 years younger!)…but was really surprised to see my preferences had changed quite dramatically. I will not dwell on what type I am now, all I will say is that the trait “Original” is the most dominant among my sub-traits, the typical trait of someone who looks for what could be better, new or different. Who always strives to improve, who likes being original, often seen as both creative and practical and may occasionally surprise others by going off in a new direction.

My type was summarized with the following adjectives: Original, Reasonable, Questioning, Critical, Tough, Early Starting….Yes, I can see myself there.

Fun bit: ‘TJs” types seem to be over-represented in the management ranks.
The only ‘preference’ that has a gender bias: Feeling (well – we kind of suspected that!)
Remember: While preferences stay the same Behaviours CAN change! No excuses!
Try out – they offer a similar test you can do for free on the web.