Monday morning I attended Steve Smith's workshop on Virgina Satir's Change Model. The short form of this model (see his popular article for the full skinny) is:

  1. Status Quo. Everything is stable and going well.
  2. A Foreign Element pops up.
  3. The person/group Resists the foreign element's efforts to pull them out of the status quo.
  4. The resistance is overcome and Chaos ensues. The person/group does all sorts of experiments as they search for a way to cope with the chaos.
  5. The person/group stumbles upon a Transforming Idea.
  6. The person/group Integrates the transforming idea into their daily practice.
  7. The person/group reaches a New Status Quo.

This cycle can take minutes or months. We constructed a Change Model Guantlet in order to experience it ourselves by making each step a physical reality through which we passed. I was part of the Chaos step. The five of us identified five components of chaos:

  • Dreamkeeper, who reminds you why you started down this path in the first place.
  • Fearmonger, who tells you all the horrible outcomes which might occur.
  • Million Ideas, who peppers you with possible transforming ideas.
  • Siren, who pulls you back to the original status quo.
  • Distractor, who randomizes you.

When the experiencer-of-change reached us we shouted our respective shouts and pushed and pulled and tugged and rotated the experiencee until the transforming idea managed to pull them out.

Two "stars" ran our Gauntlet. I was fascinated as I watched the effects the various steps of the model had on the star: how comfortable they were in status quo, their apparent bewilderment as they were pulled into chaos, and their relief once a transforming idea took hold and they made it to the new status quo. I realized that while Chaos+Integration is my status quo, that is not true for everyone, and that anything I do to assist others through the cycle will likely be appreciated.

Monday afternoon I took Diana Larsen's session on Leading From The Middle. When she said it could have been called Managing From The Middle I made ready to bolt (if I ever have a direct report my career has failed); then she said it really was about leading and so I stayed put.

Diana gave us seven points to keep in mind as we attempt to balance the concerns and desires of those above and below us:

  • Observe Your Organization: figure out how it works, what its rituals and myths are, how you add value.
  • Learn About Your Leaders: what their values are, how they prefer to take in information, what they want from you.
  • Learn About Your Peers: ditto.
  • Know Yourself: what you fear, how you affect other people, what your blind spots are.
  • Communicate Consistently And Frequently: set up brief regular sync meetings with people above and below you, assume helpful intent even when it appears otherwise, under-promise and over-deliver.
  • Collaborate For Innovation: ask others how you can help them do their job. And be prepared to do seventy percent of the work, because it probably feels more like fifty percent (or less) to the other person.
  • Respond To Changing Conditions: anticipate change, influence changes as you deem necessary, pick your interventions judiciously.

This session was the least useful to me. I didn't learn much new. Also, I felt uncomfortable in the "Relate a time when..." exercises because I usually require a while to come up with specific examples of scenarios from my past (typical big-picture-ignore-the-details NT). I felt Diana was reading directly from the handout at times, which is an instant turn-off for me. (I later found out this was the first time Diana had led this class, which likely explains at least some of her referring-to-notes.)

I did however like the hoot owl whistle she used to call us back from our discussion groups. <g/>