In the essay, Decay of Lying, Wilde (1889) observes that "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life." This past year, I found truth in his observation. While my work focuses on group adaptation, I found myself drawing on the insights from my research in application to the changes happening in my own life. 2011 seemed to be an ending to so many established projects, plans, places, and relationships. At times, it felt like the compass was pointing south. With time, new projects, plans, places, and relationships came into view. While not quite feeling settled yet, exciting projects are in the works. One, in particular, has taken shape - Women in the Systems Sciences Legacy Project. The purpose of this project is to inform our systems sciences body of knowledge (BoK) of the contributions of women from their points of view and experiences in the field. This project will concentrate on living systems scientists, as our role models, save Margaret Mead, are few. In the coming months, I look forward to chronicling this exploration. If you are interested in the field and wish to share your thoughts about this project, please fill out a contact form
With the attainment of any major goal in life, the natural question is, "What's next?" Conferment of a Ph.D. signals the beginning of new explorations as much as it signals an end to a singular scholarly goal. In many ways, the journey toward this goal revealed how much I don't know in greater measure than the body of knowledge which I attempted to gain mastery.
This research project provided many possibilities for further investigation. For example, project leadership competencies emerged as important factors in building adaptive capacity in teams. Several questions arose from the research, such as, which leadership competencies are most critical and able to be adopted by project managers in practice? How does organizational culture impact the adoption of those leadership competencies? What is the most effective way to introduce leadership competencies into an organizational culture and its project management teams?
Next steps on this journey entail more research, more writing, more reflection, and more dialogue with project managers, teams, and leaders. If you are a member of a project team, please share your thoughts about these questions in the comments section of this blog.
The dissertation process often takes longer than expected. The good news is that it is done (huge sigh of relief). As mentioned in my previous post, the data were rich and a great deal of learning emerged through the analysis. Some of the most salient points from the research included the role of project managers as leaders and the need for project teams to solicit feedback from stakeholders outside the team. More discussion of these points and others will be posted in the upcoming months.
For those of you who have been following the research study about resilience in a project team, you know that CUSD 2009 was a case study for the application of complex adaptive systems theory and the panarchy model (Gunderson & Holling, 2002) to group development for an investigation into adaptation and creative destruction in human systems. A first draft of the research study results has been submitted for review by my dissertation chair. This part of the process poses specific challenges, as the findings may/may not have indicated patterns relevant to the research questions. In addition, the data may have provided a lot of information about important patterns and themes that were not the focus of the investigation and yet they are compelling. So, reporting the results requires discernment. What I can say is that the research provided rich data. Once the dissertation is accepted, I will be reporting results in an executive summary format, so stay tuned.
Research continues as the data collection process has been completed, interviews have been transcribed, and data analysis has begun. Mary presented a paper that outlines the fundamentals of this research at the ISSS 2010 Conference in Waterloo, CA at Wilfrid Laurier University last week. The paper, Group Development: A Complex Adaptive Systems Perspective, has been published in the Proceedings of the 54th Annual Conference, The International Society for the Systems Sciences - Governance for a Resilient Planet, and it is available at http://journals.isss.org/index.php/proceedings54th/article/viewFile/1435/490, ISBN 978-1-906740-04-7. Please check back for updates about the research that tests the postulate proposed by this paper.
Since the beginning of 2010, progress has been made in submitting a research proposal for approval and initiating data collection to study resilience in a project team. Data collection will continue through early May 2010. Check back for progress updates and insights into the process.
A recurring theme that showed up this weekend was about how overcoming adversity makes individuals strong. The key principle of this concept is raising consciousness about what works and what doesn't. It highlights the importance of questioning the status quo. This concept also applies to teams.
Frequently, teams that are highly cohesive fall into a trap called groupthink. Groupthink is a consequence of decision making conformity. When teams become so comfortable with processes and relationships that they no longer think critically about whether or not the team's effectiveness is being compromised, it is time to raise consciousness by asking thought provoking questions. It's time to question whether goals and objectives are being served by easy consensus. Next time, we will explore some questions that raise team consciousness about their effectiveness.
Using a lens of complex adaptive systems, this blog will explore organizational resiliency by discussing research and cases of project teams that have overcome significant adversity. Complex adaptive systems are characterized by self-organization, hierarchy building, emergence, and learning. In this blog, you will be introduced to this approach to building resilient teams and organizations. Please feel free to ask questions and add comments about the ideas presented here. In the coming months, we will be sharing with you links and resources that you may find useful as you work with your team members to help them overcome adversity. Please keep in mind that an underlying principle of this approach is to derive organizational learning from the experience of adversity to build adaptive capacity for the future.
Welcome to EEI. We help leaders in organizations create resilient project teams. If you are a project or program manager facing complex challenges on the path to accomplishing team objectives, we help you and your team become comfortable with change and adapt to adversity while creating innovative solutions.
Mary Edson, Ph.D., SPHR, is an organizational systems coach and consultant who works with project teams to overcome adversity by building adaptive capacity. She conducted her doctoral research at Saybrook University in San Francisco, CA. Her research paper reviewing the results of this study received the Sir Geoffrey Vickers Award at the 55th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences at the University of Hull, U.K.
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