Two Guides | Brief Bios | Marilyn Veltrop
Generative Capacity-Building - The Offering

What Is "Generative Capacity-Building?"

Generative capacity-building takes the work of organizational capacity-building to a new level of strategic importance—a core competency that will become ever-more-value-adding as the rate of change continues to accelerate. Generative Capacity-Building (GCB) is a joint offering of Peter Gaarn and Bill Veltrop. It's their label for the unique and highly flexible approach they use in helping committed leadership develop their organization's capacity to re-invent themselves on-goingly.

By generative, we imply approaching capacity-building in a way that produces "enlivening ripples, multiplying benefits and ultra-high true ROIs." See Generative Initiatives to get some sense for how generative approaches to development and change differ from more traditional approaches.

Our 3-Span Bridge Lens contrasts organizational capacity-building with the simpler challenge of developing individual capabilities. E.g., the organizational capacities to be cost effective, reliable, responsive and legal are minimum requirements for staying alive in the game of business.

Who will be interested in exploring this approach?

Generative Capacity-Building will appeal to those infinite players in positions of organizational leadership and/or influence who are intrigued with the possibility of taking the special work of development to a dramatically new level of relevance and effectiveness.

In what ways is Generative Capacity-Building unique? is designed to support Generative Capacity-Building. All of the principles, tools and examples featured in this site are designed to help take the work of organization and leadership development to new levels of effectiveness and wholeness. The links listed below highlight just a few of the ways our approach to capacity-building can be different from more traditional approaches:
  • The ABC Lens distinguishes the "work of development" in a way that opens up new possibilities. The "Blue Zone" description of C-work summarizes some of what makes GCB unique.
  • The Stakeholder Lens, together with the Rainbow Lens, serve as powerful tools for shifting an organization's way of seeing and thinking about itself.
  • Design Principles for Generative Initiatives give a sampling of some of the special ways we have of thinking about and approaching the work of organizational learning and change.
  • "Box 2" in Reinventing Leadership Development lists some of our working assumptions about the work of developing leaders. Our GCB approach sets out to actualize those assumptions.
  • We make use of what we call Action-Learning Strands as a generic means to interweave the work of development into the fabric of an organization.
  • We are deeply committed to support an organization in a journey toward wholeness, in the deepest sense of that term. Our Yin-Yang and Holographic Lenses help make wholeness visible in the work of development.
We focus on developing the in-house expertise, processes and practices that are required, not only to develop an organization's capacity to address near term challenges, but also to evolve capacity-building as a distinctive core competency.

How might a Generative Capacity-Building project unfold?

The form of a generative capacity-building initiative would vary significantly. It generally would involve equipping and supporting leadership at all levels in becoming effective in the specific on-going development and change work that is central to that organization's long term success.

One of many scenarios —
  1. A organizational leader or champion of generative change contacts us and we reach a joint decision that there might be a good fit between 1) the needs and level of organizational readiness and 2) what we bring to the party.

  2. We have a preliminary meeting with a core subset of the organizational leadership and agree to proceeding with a relatively brief exploratory study involving —
    • Interviews with a dozen or so players who represent relevant functions and stakeholder groups,
    • A review session with the core group and, if appropriate,
    • A working session with the leadership team where we jointly decide on broad commitments for a prototype initiative designed both to address a significant organizational challenge/opportunity area, and also to begin developing internal expertise with our approach

  3. A successful prototype initiative opens the door to a more far-reaching exploration into the possibility of developing GCB as a core business strategy. If the possibility seems promising, there are an unlimited number of potential paths forward. Our commitment would be to co-evolve a broad implementation strategy that meets the following kinds of criteria:
    • Maximize upfront and on-going development of internal capacity to manage and evolve this strategy.
    • Incorporate Design Principles for Generative Initiatives
    • Ensure that how we unfold this developmental initiative models the organization's future vision for itself.