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The Thinking Organization
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The Thinking Organization

This pyramid summarizes the Thinking Teams view of a successful organization, effectively moving toward its goals, powered by collaborating teams of wholehearted individuals. The pyramid builds from foundational elements; its layers show focus areas for organizational improvement and growth. 

          Starting from the base: 

  1. Self-Aware, Productive Individuals – a wonderful alignment happens when an organization enables its members to participate in a way that connects with their full selves, not just the conscious tip of the mind's iceberg (The Committee in Your Head, The Power of Alignment
  2. Open, Respectful Person-Person Communication – when teams learn to communicate, not from the deceptively efficient but narrow perspective of concrete positions, but from an expanded awareness of shared goals and the potential for mutual learning, each team member moves closer to full potential and contribution (Apples and Oranges, Another Iceberg
  3. Focused, Agile, Managed Teams – when the powerful human ability to cooperate is focused and enabled by agile structure, the team becomes greater than the sum of its parts (Hive Mind, Bendable Concrete, Being Rational About Irrationality
  4. Thriving Enterprise Led With Vision – when leaders embrace the sometimes contradictory facets of their organization (Corrective Lenses), they can expand their options and tailor effective action by thinking of their organization as a

 “Factory” – creating structure that mutually supports individual and organization (Happy Cogs, Taking Chances ); or a

 “Family” – Holding and fostering organizational values that transcend the daily to-do list (The 26 Hour-a-Day Manager); or an
 “Arena” – creating a transparent, fair space to engage divergent interests and allocate scarce resources (Clean Politics); or a

 “Theater” – articulating the symbols that connect an organization’s mission to meaning and value for team members and stakeholders (Theater of Symbols).


4 Comments to The Thinking Organization:

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Bob Stone on Saturday, January 26, 2013 1:12 PM
Successful organizations are in the business of taking on complex challenges. The Thinking Teams view of a successful organization focuses on what it takes to identify central issues and chart a path forward. At the foundational level, self-aware members of the team demonstrate a willingness to embrace change, while keeping a sense of humor and maintaining a positive work environment. At the next level, members communicate a healthy sense of urgency in achieving objectives. On the agile teams level, the team learns translate the situation into manageable actions and focusing the team on key problems. And on the enterprise level, leaders create an enduring "can do" attitude within the organization. What is especially interesting to me is the idea that focused, agile, managed teams enabled by agile structure will create a believe within the team that they can excel and will energize members to engage in and be committed to the challenge and take personal accountability for effective outcomes. I appreciate the road map of blogs as a path to a deeper understanding of the Thinking Organization Model. -Bob Stone
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Tom Robertson on Sunday, January 27, 2013 9:31 AM
Thanks for your comment, Bob. I like your identification of the thread of belief that underpins, is enabled by, and feeds all the levels!

Bob Stone on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 5:32 PM
I can see how a belief in reason, in science and in progress might infuse an enterprise with energy. In the Thinking Teams Model, "a successful organization, effectively moving toward its goals, is powered by collaborating teams of wholehearted individuals." Tell us more about what it means to be "wholehearted".
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Tom Robertson on Thursday, February 14, 2013 10:06 AM
Great question! My favorite David Whyte story started me using the term "wholehearted". His story was about a time he was struggling at his work, running from meeting to meeting, trying to do good but never quite getting there. He went home that night, pleased to find it was a night his friend, a German monk, was coming over to drink wine and read poetry. As he sat down with his friend, exhausted, he asked him - "Brother, tell me about exhaustion". His friend said something he never forgot - "The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness." I think of wholeheartedness as something that comes with alignment. We each have a personal responsibility to learn to listen to our own heart, our own internal wisdom, and align our priorities with it. Our minds are vast and our consciousness limited, so practices such as mindfulness are really helpful. And highly rational!

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