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43. Participative Design Workshop

Peggy Holman Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

43 merrelyn emery and tom devane

Participative Design Workshop

We must be the great arsenal of democracy.

Real-Life Story

Cyclone Hardware P&N Tools manufactures products for the building and engineering industries. The company began to encounter serious problems as imports reduced P&N Tools’ market share. Management downsized the workforce, initiated four-day weeks, and reduced capital expenditures.

Internally, quality, production times, and operating costs were not competitive. Management believed reducing the hierarchy from five levels would improve cycle times and reduce costs through faster decision making. They also realized they would need a structure that encouraged motivation and responsibility from employees at all levels.

Their first attempt using a Sociotechnical Systems (STS) approach foundered because apart from the design team, the workforce didn’t feel ownership. Representation is not the same thing as participation.

As it happened, P&N Tools had previously been introduced to the concepts of Participative

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12. The World Café

Peggy Holman Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

12 juanita brown, ken homer, and david isaacs

The World Café

In the new economy conversations are the most important form of work.

—Alan Webber, Harvard Business Review

What We Know About How Organizations Learn

Several years ago, Meg Wheatley and Juanita Brown, under the auspices of the Berkana Institute, were cohosting a program on living systems. They introduced an innovative approach to large group dialogue, called the World Café. Bob Veazie, an engineer at Hewlett Packard, was among the participants that day. Deeply touched by the experience, here’s how he recalls the Café’s impact:

World Café

The core question posed for the Café was, “What do we believe we know about how organizations learn?” We had twenty minutes or so for each table of four to explore the question. Then one person stayed at the table and the rest moved to other Café tables, met new people and continued the dialogue. Everyone was very actively involved, the energy and volume were high, and people brought different aspects of what they learned from their last tables to their new conversations. It was very exciting, but very disturbing at the same time.

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Peggy Holman Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply.

—Kahlil Gibran, The Garden of the Prophet, Lazarus and His Beloved, Sand and Foam

Order arises when individuals follow simple rules or organizing assumptions: Drive on the correct side of the road. Raise your hand and wait to be called on to speak. Rules provide structure and boundaries.

To a surprising extent, we don’t have to articulate the rules. Initial conditions tell us a lot about the principles that guide us. Think how differently we feel when we walk into a softly lit room, music playing quietly in the background. Now think about entering a sterile meeting room with chairs all facing the front of the room. With no explanation, each situation sets up a different emotional response and tells us a lot about what is expected of us. Now that’s simplicity!

Given the complexity of human systems, how can we possibly know what sort of rules will create the desired changes to a system? Finding simplicity is an art of discovery, continually doing one less thing while seeking the heart of the matter. Getting to fundamentals is key. What is our purpose in seeking change? Who needs to be involved? How do we approach it?

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10. The Technology of Participation

Peggy Holman Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

10 marilyn oyler and gordon harper

The Technology of Participation

—R. Pascale, M. Millemann, and L. Gioja

Eradicating Meningitis

Meningitis epidemics occur with predictable regularity in some of the poorest countries in the world. Following a predictable cycle, nearly 200,000 cases were reported in the “meningitis belt” of Sub-Saharan Africa in the last major outbreak, killing and debilitating thousands.

Eradicating this menace is the aim of MVP, the Meningitis Vaccine Project, a unique partnership between the World Health Organization (WHO) and Seattle-based Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH). MVP is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In October 2002, MVP used the Technology of Participation (ToP)® methods to create a

five-year strategic plan to address the question, “What must the WHO/PATH partnership do as a team by 2007 to successfully deliver on the mission of the Meningitis Vaccine Project?” To create the plan, ten WHO and PATH staff members met for two lively days at MVP’s offices in FerneyVoltaire, France.

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6. Collaborative Loops

Peggy Holman Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

6 dick axelrod and emily axelrod

Collaborative Loops

—Buckminster Fuller

Making a Difference at Fraser Health Authority

The Collaborative Loops process—an engagement-based approach to organizational change—is making a difference at Fraser Health Authority.

Fraser Health, located on the lower mainland of British Columbia, is responsible for the delivery of all publicly funded acute and community health-care services for the 1.5 million people who live in the largest and fastest growing health-care region in Canada. In practical terms, this means everything from public health issues like immunizations, to end-of-life issues like hospice. In 2001, three separate health-care regions were merged to form this 23,000-person organization, which includes hospitals, clinics, nearly 2,200 physicians, and community health facilities. Fraser works within an annual budget of $1.8 billion.

The Collaborative Loops process brings dissimilar project teams together in a workshop setting to develop their own change processes. Rather than relying on a set methodology, people are freed to develop their own strategies. By providing frameworks and principles, participants are then able to use their own experience to create more effective change. The teams share insights and provide feedback, stimulating innovation and learning. This in turn strengthens the bonds within and among the teams and dramatically improves the organization as a whole. Each team learns to create a Collaborative Loop using the four engagement principles: (1) widen the circle of involvement, (2) connect people to each other, (3) create communities for action, and

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