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Introduction to O2: A catalyst for self-organization

Ravi Resck 29 de July de 2021

We are in the second decade of the third millennium. Artificial intelligence, cryptocurrencies, blockchain and autonomous cars are on the rise. Kurzweil is saying that computers will be smarter than us in 12 years. And you're wrong if you think that evolution is limited to computers. Facebook currently provides 71 gender options for your users. Various other social technologies are appearing to deal with the current world, which is undoubtedly VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous).

In the meantime, we continue to use structures that emerged millennia ago in our companies. Yes, I am talking about the fundamentally autocratic form of management. You do what your boss says. Power must be delegated from top to bottom. Etc etc etc. Some approaches have emerged to try to propose a “rewrite” of this system, although there are few alternatives.

To deal with the side effects of the hierarchical structure and navigate the VUCA world, many experts propose the creation of contexts where self-organization is possible. This is the case with Steve Denning, who search he realized that most high-performance teams are self-organizing. Other evidence points to the same path, such as the Manifesto of Responsive Organizations, The Agile Movement and the Evolutionary Organizations.

In order to increase the range of social technology options for self-organization (and also address the “disadvantages” of other approaches), we (Target Teal + Partners) develop a catalyst for self-organization called Organic Organization (O2).

Organic Organization (O2)

O2 is currently composed of an essential set of rules, called Meta-Agreements, in addition to a constantly evolving library of patterns and anti-patterns. It can be used across a team, area, department or an entire organization. The only rule is that this application group needs to have a considerable level of autonomy in relation to the rest. Obviously, O2 will work at full power only when applied to the entire organization.

Nested circle structure

Like Holacracia and Sociocracia 3.0, O2 divides the organization into semi-autonomous circles. These circles contain roles that carry out the organization's activities for a common purpose.

In general, old areas, departments and teams form circles. However, O2 gives preference to small groups, with up to 12 members.

External and internal circles are connected through special papers, called external link and internal link. We will detail the main roles in the next post.

5 basic modes

In our journey helping other teams and companies to develop self-organization, we have learned that it is important to work on some “basic ways” for the group to remain healthy in the long run. These modes aim to review the work, synchronize the efforts, adapt the structure, select people who are going to maintain the process and take care of the relations between the members of the group. They are developed in meetings governed by a facilitator chosen by the circle itself.

Review

It is amazing how many groups do not sit together to review their work. Some do this individually, or through reviews between boss and subordinate. But there is a better way.

When we are immersed in an environment where others see what we are doing, an effect called peer pressure emerges. In this context, we are much more attentive to the expectations of colleagues and do our best to meet them. Research says this motivator is more powerful than money. Obviously, peer pressure creates “tensions” that cause individuals in a group to move towards the larger goal. Reviewing helps to strengthen this environment.

It is also common to hear managers complaining that their subordinates do nothing to improve the indicators. The point is, you can't worry about something you don't see or understand. It is necessary to exercise the act of revising.

In O2, the way the review takes place is defined by the facilitator. The most common format is to look at actions, projects, metrics and checklists assigned to the roles in the circle.

Modo Revisar

Synchronize

Many groups do not develop effective mechanisms for placing orders. And things get worse when the leader / boss / manager centralizes the monopoly on the distribution of tasks, that is, when a person only performs tasks passed directly by his superior. It goes without saying that this is not at all effective.

It is not necessarily a matter of bad intention on the part of those who only do what the boss asks. Expectations, responsibilities and authorities are often unclear. That is why at O2 all responsibilities must be contracted through explicit roles.

Once you know what you can expect from your peers, ordering is easier. As with any organization, requests for new projects, actions or information can be made at any time by anyone. But through the synchronize mode, we guarantee that this occurs with a minimum frequency in each circle.

O2 seeks to decentralize the distribution of projects and actions, to give more agility to your group or organization.

The synchronization mode starts with the construction of a list of tensions perceived by the participants, which are questions / problems / opportunities that demand something. These tensions are then dealt with one by one and transformed into projects and actions that are attributed to the roles of the circle.

Modo Sincronizar

Adapt

We have always designed our organizations and teams with great care. However, a designer, however intelligent and dedicated, will never be able to predict everything that may happen (remember the VUCA world). The secret is to create an evolutionary design, that is, a system with its own adaptability.

The organizational structure behind O2 makes use of this concept. That is why each expectation, role and restriction in force within the group or organization practicing O2 needs to be explicit. As new tensions and opportunities for improvement arise, the group adapts its structure to deal with the new context in which it is immersed.

All of these changes happen exclusively in the adapt mode of each circle. At that time, groups can change their roles, create internal circles or set restrictions that affect their members.

Explicit authority, that is, the clarity of what each member of the group “can” and “cannot” do allows for quick decision making and less hesitation in everyday life.

The process for making these changes ensures that they are made only for the purpose of the group. For example, a person cannot change a role just for his own benefit, without it contributing in any way to the purpose of the circle.

Modo Adaptar

Select

Keeping groups self-organizing requires energy. Each circle in O2 contains some basic roles that ensure the method works. Three of these roles are chosen by the group itself through an election in the select mode: facilitator, secretary and internal link.

The group performs the “selection” on a regular basis (every 3 months, for example). Rotations in these key roles are recommended to empower most people at O2 and ensure independence from facilitators or experts outside the group.

Take care

The break between work and personal life started in conformist organizations (read here to better understand). The traditional corporate environment does not welcome people entirely. The emotions, uncertainties and fears you leave at home. At work you need to be a “good professional“.

It turns out that in the 21st century work is predominantly creative (if yours is not, you may be replaced by a robot soon). And this type of activity, due to its greater interdependence between people and roles, requires more effective communication between agents. To navigate this complexity, you need to develop better relationships and emotional intelligence.

We understand that working in the organizational space (structure, roles, restrictions, processes) is not enough for a group. The way of caring aims to develop communication, recognize individual needs and foster openness among members, but without this "polluting" the space of the organization.

Modo Cuidar

A mutual commitment

Playing O2 requires a mutual commitment between the participants. Everyone involved must respect the rules of the game, regardless of position or function. This commitment includes the suspension of any prior authority systems or differences in status. This means that in O2 the only sources of expectations, restrictions and responsibilities are those defined by the group at the circle meetings. We will cover this in more detail in the next post as well.

This article was originally written by Davi Gabriel da Silva and published ON HERE

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