Earlier this month I joined my first session of a monthly networking group for people worldwide who are working in progressive organisational design.
Organised by Brent Lowe, it was a superb opportunity to meet people working in a wide range of sectors, doing a wide range of jobs, uniting to share knowledge and experience freely on what it means to develop progressive organisations.
In a time of Covid-19 lockdowns and content algorithms, it was also a good reminder for me of the value of connecting with people with diverse life experiences to help challenge my own thinking, assumptions, biases and prejudices.
Plus I heard about a few things I’d like to experiment with at The Panoply when the time’s right, as well as also sharing experiences from progressive organisational design work I’ve done over the past few years.
A topic that we’ve had a lot of debate about this month (and in fact most months) at work is about organisational culture.
How we might sustain, develop and nurture culture in a changing and distributed organisation has been a hot topic for debate. I’m more convinced than ever that we might be asking the wrong question here though.
Culture, however you might define it, is an emergent characteristic. It can’t be created or managed. It emerges from the interactions that individuals have with each other at work. The nature of these interactions are determined by the formal and informal processes that define how stuff gets done in an organisation.
So our focus has to be on designing organisations and ways of working that are congruent with the culture we seek, but we also need to acknowledge that as an emergent property from a complex system, we can’t predict with precision how culture will develop or shift.
June was also a month where I spent a lot of time planning some upcoming changes we’re making. I enjoyed spending time listening to and debating with leaders from across our organisation, working hard to sense across the communities we have and reach consensus on how to develop the next iteration of our organisation.
I’ve found this immensely rewarding but also quite mentally exhausting at times. There’s a lot of insight to process, consider and triangulate. I’ve had to try to be disciplined at taking breaks and exercising regularly. I can’t say I’ve always succeeded at this, so I’m going to renew my focus on exercise and regular time out in July.
We’ve also been busy pulling together The Panoply’s annual report for late July and preliminary results for 2020/21 which are out on Monday, 5th July. It’s been a useful reflective piece of work, demonstrating the progress we’ve made over the past year and helping frame what that means for our vision over the coming years.
Beyond work, we spent a couple of days on the road last weekend visiting universities with our elder son who’s applying later this year. Our first stop was the University of Nottingham. Having studied there from 1995 to 1998, it was very strange going back as a parent after so long.
Visiting my former hall of residence was particularly odd, especially as it seemed to have not changed in the 26 years since I was there – and it wasn’t exactly modern back then. Our road trip also encompassed Loughborough and Egham too, so plenty of miles and new scenery which was refreshin given how little travel there’s been over the past 16 months.
Tomorrow is eight weeks since my first Covid-19 vaccination in a closed-down former Debenhams store. In the morning I’m off to the cinema in Canterbury for my second dose. There seems a certain irony that I haven’t been to a cinema for a very long time thanks to lockdown, yet the first time I do go is for a vaccination. Hopefully this time the side effects won’t be as bad as first time around. Fingers crossed!