Power, Rank and Privilege in an "Agile" Environment
At the core of Agile was the attempt to strip away the traditional hierarchical structures in order to empower people and help teams to succeed. However, just because some job titles and line management lines may have gone: power, rank and privilege can still stalk these organisations in many guises causing confusion, conflict and potentially toxic environments. Some might argue, that even with all the best intentions in the world, what we have actually created is a "Lord of the Flies" situation where that flat heirarchy and "empowerment" has actually stripped the support structures away from people who needed them most (such as minority groups, gender, race). Has "better ways of working" actually propelled us backwards? Have we forgotten to support and nurture the "people and interactions" piece with our focus on stripped down process? Or has helped shine a light on issues long covered up by making them more visible but we now have to find out new ways to approach power, rank and privilege in our modern environment.
In this workshop we will explore this usually avoided topic in the modern Australian Workplace (and within the Agile community) using an organisation and relationship systems coaching (ORSC) approach where we can start to reveal a system to itself and then start to use the natural intelligence and creativity within the group to help address this difficult but fundamental issue.
This is a very interactive workshop, with no slides and those that will be attending will be expected to do most of the work(!) while guided by the experienced ORSC facilitator. Therefore each session of these workshops can be profoundly different depending on the system of people who attend. However, all participants should leave with a deeper understanding (or at the very least a whole new set of questions) on the meaning of "power" within a working environment and also an experience of how a systems inspired approach can help address such "edgy" topics.
Outline/Structure of the Simulation
- Welcome. Get everyone seated and settled into the circle
- Introduction. Introduce the topic with some key stats and information as prompts
- DTA. Run a quick "Designed Team Alliance (DTA)" session to ensure respectful basis for moving session forward
- Informal Constellation. The bulk of the first part of the session is an "Informal Constellation" where attendees are invited to walk around topics put in the centre of the room by the facilitator and gravitate to where they feel comfortable. Within close pairs they will discuss why they are standing where they are. We will then invite voices from the centre to the outside edge to share with the larger group. The topics are designed to be deeper and more controversial to increase intensity and provoke thought and discussion!
- Circle Discussion. Bring everyone back to the circle to share the key insights. We might run a quick "Appreciation Loop" at this point to bring people back to more positive thoughts.
- Wrap Up. Thank everyone and point them in the direction of further resources, books, podcasts that go much further than the surface explored today.
The learnings are two fold
- The first should be an appreciation that there are some profound issues that the agile community needs to address around power, rank and privilege. Stripping away structures and replacing them with new ones does not necessarily make things better - especially for marginalised groups. Hopefully we get to explore some solutions as well.
- An experience of a more ORSC-like systems coaching approach which they can use to address not just this but a myriad of other topics.
This is open to everyone from the most junior and inexperienced to senior leaders who grapple with this day to day. An openness of mind and a respectful curiosity is needed however.
Prerequisites for Attendees
There is no explicit prerequisites before attending apart from thinking about how power, rank and privilege might have played out for them and those around them particularly (but not exclusively) in an agile or a better ways of working environment.
- Power. Much of this session covers topics introduced by Julie Diamond in this profound book (Power : A Users Guide).
- BVSSH. The context is probably best summarised by Better Value Sooner, Safer, Happier. BVSSH does not go into this explicitly but does discuss some of the profound problems with a traditional approach to "transformations" - Power is yet another angle.
- ORSC. Even if you are not that interested in the topic, the way the session will be run is very different and quite "ORSC-like"! If you want to know more about ORSC this is a good chance to dip your toe in the water
schedule Submitted 8 months ago
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