On The Road with The Happy Burro – Chicago, IL, USA

**UPDATE** May 17, 11:45a central (scroll down for latest news)

That’s right – I’ll be in Chicago most of next week, May 14-17th at the OD Summit.  I’ll be spending time with a few co-workers and about 800 of my closest organizational development friends from across several industries, companies, and countries.

Look for updates and observations at this web address starting Sunday night! Or maybe Monday.

May 13, 2007 – Happy Mother’s Day!  I am here in the windy city of Chicago.  You’ll be happy to know I found the closest Starbucks so my mornings will be nothing short of spectacular! A brief update:  I checked in at the ’summit’ – and received four new books to read. (and pack home):  True North by Bill George; Our Iceberg is Melting by John Kotter; What Got You Here Won’t Get You Thereby Marshall Goldsmith; and Everybody Wins by Phil Harkins and Keith Hollihan.  Guess it’ll be a few days before I get to crack that new ‘Prey’ series detective novel..

May 14, 2018 UPDATE – Spent the day with Dr. Glenda Eoyang of the Human Systems Dynamics Institute discussing “Human Systems Dynamics in Action.”  What an engaging, actionable, and global topic! Speaking of ‘global’ – there was representation from China, Singapore, the Netherlands, and South Africa in our small group of 12.  A big THANK YOU to those weary travelers from afar who fought ferociously through jetlag, and I expect are sleeping soundly as I write.

Dr. Eoyang lead a great session that focused on “adaptive action” – meaning not just theory and tools, but practical application as well.  We were also challenged with identifying a ’sticky issue’ of our own to use as a case study during the session. Some tools we discussed and applied:  same/different, patterns, complex adaptive and self-organizing systems, adaptive action cycle, landscape diagram, and the CDE model.  I’ll be writing more on these at a later date.

One of the interesting metaphors we put to use was that of a plant.  In organizational development we want to influence the plant’s environment.  We can’t make the plant itself change.  With that, I’m off to read more on those books I mentioned yesterday.  Or possibly to meet up with colleagues arriving soon…

May 15, 2018 UPDATE – A long day of presentations, networking, networking, and listening to more presentations.  The keynote speaker, Michael Beer, gave a great presentation on honest conversation within companies.  His consulting firm, True Point, focuses on getting companies to act on what they usually just talk about.  Next was a session titled, “Building a Sustainable World: A strategic OD challenge.”  I thought we’d be discussing how to make sure our OD interventions were sustainable and not short term, etc.  No, we discussed recycling, laws to protect animals, green grass roofs, soy-based ink, etc.  About a third of the audience left during the presentation.  I either mis-read this one, or should focus on finding eco-friendly flipchart markers…

The lunch session was with the CEO of Linkage and all about “leaders teaching leaders.”  There is nothing stronger in organizations than this.  Not just mentoring, but truly sharing insights in action learning teams at all levels.

My afternoon began with the first (of three) meetings with my “Learning Team”, facilitated by Jodee Bock of Bock’s Office. Her blog is here.  This is a small group session originally focused on organizational design.  There was significant learning in sharing stories from such diverse companies as Wrigley, Advocate Christ Hospital, Tektronix, TIAA-CREF, and Qualcomm, just to name a few. The afternoon session was on Designing the Global Corporation: interaction between field and HQ.  A good session and I learned more than I could ever imagine about United Airlines!

The closing session was AMAZING!  Roger Nierenberg is a conductor and creator of The Music Paradigm.  He had members of the world class Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra.  Did you know that the muscians only have their music in front of them?  They have to know just when to play their part.  Roger made fantastic connections to systems thinking.  More on this later!  We ended the day with a great Italian meal at Volare.

May 16, 2007 UPDATE – Say hello to social networks!  The keynote speaker starting our day was Karen Stephenson.  Her consulting firm is Netform.  This was by far the best presentation, and use of Powerpoint, demonstrated so far.  Dr. Stephenson spoke for a full 10 minutes with just a slide of her hiking in the Sahara Desert.  The total presentation time was 90 minutes and maybe 15 slides.  AWESOME!  Some cools things about social networks:  subject to the laws of mathematics; heterarchy not hierarchy; decoding culture; Hub v. Gatekeeper v. Pulse taker; egocentric network=who am I connected with; not about mapping networks – it is about intelligent meshing of hierarchy and network.  A possible great read:  “Quantum Theory of Trust” .

The second keynote of the day was a conversation on leadership with Warren Bennis.  He is noted as the foremost authority on leadership alive today.  His presentation was about “What do we want from our leaders”:

1.  Competence (results)

2. Character (who we are; life as a career)

3. Engage (to draw into, involve; engage others in a shared meaning)

4. Culture of learning and growth

A favorite quote from Warren: “Leadership is a choice, not a position”.

How leaders should spend their time: 70% listening, 20% asking good questions, 10% summarizing and reflecting. (notice, no time for talking!).

His final message, quoting an unknown poet source:

“Did you get what you want in life, even so?”  Powerful.

My afternoon session was with IBM researcher Sara Moulton Roger.  She discussed, “Tangible Culture: innovative ways to handle an elusive challenge.”  This session focused on lessons learned by IBM Global Services when they bought PWC’s consulting group and had to merge 30,000 new people into IBM.  I learned about “outcome narratives” – a way to get two groups who are both ‘right’ to focus on one common solution.

We then spent two hours in our learning teams.  We discussed the difference between HR and organizational development.  The short answer: it depends!

The final keynote of the day was from HeartMath CEO Bruce Cryer.  He gave an interesting presentation on how our hearts are really much more than pumps, and are constantly sending messages to our brains.  He demonstrated that even the thought of something stressful can make our heart rate jump from 75 to 110 beats per minute, almost instantly.  He offered a simple, yet effective, ‘coherence’ tool when we’re a bit out of sorts and stressed:

1.  Close your eyes

2.  Focus on your heart area

3.  Breath deeply and slowly

4.  Think about something/someone you appreciate

It works!

We ended the day with good colleague conversation at a local ‘hot spot’ (read: I was one of the older people at this restaurant):  Bin 36. Ok food, good service, great wine list.  I am off to read, read, read and sleep.  To sleep, perchance to dream of morning and Starbucks…

May 17, 2007 UPDATE – The final day, and a short one. First session was at Starbucks. OK, not really, but my colleague and I, in just 30 minutes, figured out what needs fixing in our department and function.  My first morning session was titled “The Covert Dimensions of Organizational Change” lead by Robert Marshak.  He focused on “Unseen, unspoken, or unaddressed dynamics can ‘blindside’ organizational change and OD consultants.” True.  My key takeaway: Seek movement, not exposure, assume positive intent, and act consistent with the expectations of you and your role.

What a great week it has been!

Look for more of a performance consulting approach in future posts.  I’m off to tour Chicago!!

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