Developing Minds – My Organizations Work?


I’m reading a book – An Everyone Culture*.

It’s impacting me.

In short, this book spells out (what I interpret to be) the science behind what makes adaptive leadership work so valuable.  It’s extra intriguing to me because this is the type of leadership that I seek to teach and coach in my work with Fisher Coaching.

The path this book takes is to look at real companies and say –

“Look at what they are doing” (i.e. adaptive work).


Why would they be doing such a crazy thing?

They’re doing it because research shows that the developmental transformation and capacity building of any individual (which is what adaptive leadership principles invite us to do) actually produces a more profitable employee and company.

And, in addition, it tends to create environments where individuals feel valued.

And – as a result – these maturing, more profitable employees tend to want to stay.

Imagine that.

Imagine having a company – your company – full of individuals that were not only growing in their mental capacity – to think with a bigger perspective for the good of themselves and the company – but they want to stay!

Now let’s be honest.

The shift of world view (physical, mental, emotional, financial, etc.) required to put a culture like this in place is HUGE.  It is a very different paradigm than what tends to drive most of our present day organizations.

This book calls the companies that do this work DDO’s – Deliberately Developmental Organizations.

Unfortunately, these organizations can appear like the Matrix to onlookers.

The book offers an example…

“…a common thread that distinguishes them (DDOs) from ordinary organizations:  DDOs continuously stir things up, troubling the waters; ordinary organizations continuously try to calm things down,  instituting repeatable routines.” 

Adaptive Leadership invites participants into a work that challenges them to view uncertainty and conflict NOT as the enemy but as a platform from which greater – more profitable progress can be the result.

Sound crazy?

Keep reading…

“An ordinary organization may not even know it is doing it, but at bottom, it is trying to minimize a certain kind of disturbance.  It wants threats to certainty, predictability, routine, control, and connection to be as few as possible so that the work can get done without unnecessary emotional noise and distraction.  A DDO, in contrast, strange though it may sound, value disturbances and is designed to preserve them at an optimal level – not overwhelmingly high, but never down to zero. 

Does this mean that the DDO is a sadistic home for lovers of emotional drama and alarm?  After all, who in her right mind would purposely create such a setting, not to mention prefer it?  The answer is that…

…such a design is optimal for exactly one thing:  developmental transformation.

And it is favored by those who regard as precious the opportunity to learn and grow.”

Developmental transformation?


Should that be the work of any organization?

We’re just trying to crank out product here.

Am I right?

Why can’t people just do their job?


Now what?


* Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey.  An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization.   Harvard Business Press, 2016), 83.

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