A Palette of Possibilities a robust collection of lenses and design principles.
Rainbow Lens

SBODN Survey Results

On May 13, 2005, the South Bay OD Network, guided by Krista Henley and Rossela Derickson, staged its first annual conference at Sun Microsystems' campus. The participants were of a mix of internal and external HR and OD practitioners. Together, they provided a window into a significant subset of Silicon Valley's corporations.

During a session focused on Tools for Growing a Culture of Development, the participants were invited to engage in a "Quicky Anonymous Survey." This consciousness-raising survey focused on a few key organizational variables that help define an organization's developmental capacity — its ability to evolve and demonstrate resiliency in the face of change.

Rainbow, Yin-Yang and ABC Lenses

Below are the survey questions based on these three lenses, and the results:

What is your intuition as to the median Quality of Agreements and Quality of Relationships for the organization(s) you serve?

What is your intuition as to the Balanced Yin-Yang Strength and the Quality of B-work throughout the organization(s) you serve?

Caveats: This was an initial testing of a simplified version of three of the Wholeness Lenses included in A Palette of Possibilities. There was only limited time available for describing and applying the lenses. Also, the 75+ respondents represented a wide variety of organizations which further muddies the waters.

These various uses of the Rainbow Lenses are designed to serve two vital eye-opening functions—
  • They can help cut through patterns of collective denial about the true state of an organization's health. They can be used to open the door to conversations that acknowledge what's real and heal old wounds.
  • They can also enable us to see beyond today's limited definitions of success—to raise the bar to transformational levels. Too often "we look mediocrity squarely in the eye and pronounce it to be excellence," thus robbing ourselves of an opportunity to evolve.
Please read the description of the above lenses to provide a context for interpreting these results. For instance, the "Quality of Organizational Energy" figure is particularly useful in both visualizing the huge hidden costs implicit in sinking into a Red Zone culture, as well as the incredible potential implicit in achieving a Blue Zone culture.

Reflections on the above survey results:

1.   The high Red Zone percentages suggest that those particular organizations may be "running on fumes," operating in ways that seriously jeopardize their future sustainability. However, this can also be seen as an opportunity for dramatic improvement. With deep and patient leadership commitment to become leading learners and learning leaders, all of these cultural variables can be improved.

2.   Notice the strong correspondence between quality of relationships and quality of agreements. It reinforces the notion that focusing on quality of agreements can become an important strategy for improving quality of relationships.

3.   The high Green Zone percentages suggest that some organizations in Silicon Valley have vibrantly healthy cultures and may be ready to pioneer moving into the Blue Zone — exciting new territory in terms of organizational resilience, consciousness, innovation and performance.

4.   The fact that over twenty percent of the respondents see their organizations as being in the Red Zone in terms of Balanced Yin-Yang Strength suggests that the leadership in those organizations is still trapped in a yang-centric mindset. Strengthening their collective "Yin-wing" could be crucial to improving the quality of all of the other cultural variables.

5.   The high percentage of respondents placing their organization's B-work in the Orange or Red Zone probably reflects the effect of many successive downsizings, where developmentally gifted people are sometimes among the first to leave. However, starting over with a relatively clean slate could open the door to the long-needed reinvention of the work of development.

How Big is Your Leadership Development Box?

To appreciate these particular survey results it's important to read Reinventing Leadership Development. Better yet, follow the instructions and take the survey and see how your results compare with those from the conference.

Below are the survey questions and results from the SBODN Conference:

How many Box #1 Assumptions seem to be operational among leaders in the organization(s) you serve?

How many Box #2 Assumptions strike a resonant note, or are at least intriguing, for you personally?

Our true beliefs, like our true values, can be slippery items, hard to describe with accuracy. One of the more reliable and useful approaches to identifying the true beliefs of an organization's leadership is to look at its patterns and practices, and then to infer what beliefs would be logically consistent with those patterns.

The Box #1 assumptions are my version of assumptions that seem to have had a dominant effect on leadership development strategies over the past several decades.

The Box #2 assumptions represent a first cut at what I'm convinced are a more empowering set of beliefs—beliefs that could help us transform the work of development in organizations.

Reflections on the leadership development box results:
  1. The Box #2 responses suggest that most of respondents are at least intrigued by most all of these box-expanding beliefs. E.g., twenty-five percent checked all 15. This is heartening to me.
  2. The fact that some of these HR and OD practitioners indicated that few or none of the Box #2 assumptions were intriguing to them would have been interesting to explore if there had been time.