Rightshifting Transitions (Part 3)

Rightshifting Transitions (Part 3)

[From the Archive: Originally posted at Amplify.com Mar 3, 2011]

The Essence of the Three Rightshifting Transitions

Part 3 – Synergistic to Chaordic

The Marshall Model proposes that there are three fundamental transitions that any business will encounter on its rightshifting journey (i.e. the journey to significantly improved organisational effectiveness).

Encountering these transitions is inevitable, although businesses generally do not recognise a transition when they (most often, unwittingly) bump into it. And given the low probability of making a successful transition, any one business may repeatedly bump into the same transition some number of times.

The third transition, and the one we’ll discuss here today, is from the Synergistic mindset to the Chaordic. I.E. The Transition to the most effective organisation mindset of the model.

Synergistic to Chaordic

In this instalment, we’ll take a look as the third and final transition postulated by the Marshall Model: the Synergistic to Chaordic transition. (Note: the word Chaordic was first coined by Dee Hock during his evolution of the Visa organisation.)

Those (few) businesses that discover the value of Purpose – and the other aspects of the Synergistic mindset – find themselves also hooked on the beauty and power of continuous improvement. Once well-established in the new synergistic ways of doing things, these businesses find that their customers, staff and shareholders are all happily engaged in productively and jointly pursuing the organisation’s purpose.

For most such businesses, this is often more than enough, and the will to continuously improve is channelled into conducting their core business ever more effectively. But for the few, the lure of another significant uplift in the effectiveness of the whole organisation beckons: the Chaordic mindset.

Most synergistic businesses remain tied, more or less, to the apron strings of their effective application of (self) discipline and purpose. The Chaordic business seeks something more. It seeks the effectiveness that comes with being able to leverage its command of discipline and purpose in the pursuit of fleeting, ever-changing market “sweet-spots”. Like the quantum foam of the Cosmos, commercial opportunities are forever winking into and out of existence. Rare indeed are the businesses that can respond fast enough to *systematically* seize on these fleeting opportunities and turn them, time and again, into profitable, albeit most likely short-lived, commercial successes.

Successfully accomplishing the transition from Synergistic to Chaordic involves becoming intimately familiar and comfortable with the business reconfiguring itself on an almost daily basis. The certainties of established ways of doing things, with stable roles and responsibilities, and an established set of things to do – however Lean, Agile, holistic, collaborative, and so on – have to give way to a much more fluid and unpredictable reality.

Everyone in a Chaordic organisation is constantly aware that things can change fundamentally at any time, even with just a few minutes’ or hours’ notice.

The Primary Lesson of Each Transition

To recap, having successfully made one of the above transitions, a business can reflect (with the benefit of hindsight) and see that each transition provides a different lesson in improving organisational effectiveness:

  • Ad-hoc to Analytic – The value of discipline
  • Analytic to Synergistic – The value of (shared) purpose
  • Synergistic to Chaordic – The value of positive opportunism

As ever, I welcome your comments, observations and questions.

– Bob

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