Beyond self-management, part 2: cooperation

Download your copy of PDF Beyond self-management, part 2: cooperation , or read the full story here.

1. Introduction

This is the second part of an article on self-management and the personal development of individuals and groups working in self-steering teams. The first part covered individual development and included a list of practical instruments. In this second part, I want to review how the developmental phase of individuals affects cooperation. Part 3 – in June- will contain an overview of practical tools to further collective development in teams.

2. Developmental stages of adults

All human beings start at level 0 (or beige) and individually grow, step-by -step, to the next stage. The higher the stage, the more complex consciousness is. And this complexity of consciousness correlates with the level of complexity that people can handle in their lives and in their work without feeling overwhelmed.

Below you will find a brief overview of the developmental stages of adults. You can find a more detailed description in ‘Beyond self-management 1’. Beyond self-management, part 1

The socialized mind (Wilber and Laloux’s Blue, Kegan’s Phase 3,)
  • In this phase we are shaped by the definitions and expectations of our personal environment.
  • Our self coheres by its alignment with, and loyalty to, that with which it identifies.
  • This sense of self can express itself primarily in our relationships with people, with schools of thought (ideas and beliefs) or both.
The Self authoring Mind (Wilber and Laloux’s Orange to Green, (Kegan’s stage 4)
  • Here we are able to step back enough from the social environment to generate an internal seat of judgement, or personal authority, that evaluates and makes choices about external expectations.
  • Our self coheres by alignement with its own belief system, ideology or personal code, by its ability to self-direct, take stands, set limits, create and regulate its boundaries on behalf of its own voice.
Self-Transcending Mind (Wilber and Laloux’s Green and Teal, Kegan’s stage 5)
  • We can step back from and reflect on the limits of our own ideology or person authority, see that any one system of self-organization is in some way partial or incomplete, be friendlier toward contradiction and opposites , seek to hold on to multiple systems.
  • Our self coheres by the ability not to confuse internal consistency with wholeness or completeness, and through its alignement with the dialectic rather than either pole.

In each successive phase, there is more distance between the self and what we identify with, which we coincide with. From the Self-authoring mind on, we no longer are our relationships with people or schools of thought, we have relationships with people or schools of thought. These have become an object and objects can be explored and reviewed. In every phase the self becomes more aware, can make more choices.

Developmental stages and cooperation

Your developmental stage strongly impacts how you interact with others.

Phase 3

For example, in the 3rd stage – the socialized mind – you are strongly focused on the expectations of others. If no expectations are expressed, people in this phase try to “read” expectations so they know what to do. The image others have of you is so determinative of your identity in this phase, that it’s hard to ask for help if you do not understand something or if you get stuck.

It seems obvious in this phase to try and tackle too many tasks, to say “yes” and to do “no”, because saying “no” would put the relationship at risk. Stage 3’s limitation is that it cannot resolve conflicts between responsibilities to different relationships. It could often happen that responsibilities are not fulfilled, because something “came up”. From inside stage 3 though that’s what it means to do a good job: handle things that came up, for someone who wanted you to do something else.

This is how the brain works

For phase 3 the structural reasons for setting priorities are not yet visible. For the colleague in phase 4 it is obvious to expect the other to hold on to the previously made engagement or to be informed if something else comes up that has a higher priority.

Phase 4

In the 4th phase – Self-authoring mind- relationships are still important, but no longer determine all choices. Because there are reasons for relationships, because they are based on specific commitments to particular roles, because they give you specific responsibilities in specific situations, you can usually resolve conflicts between them in a principled way. People are focused on contributing to the team or the organization by fulfilling your specific, defined, systemic duties. At stage 4, one takes responsibility not merely for personal roles, or for the needs of people you are in relationship with, but for a whole social structure. Mastery of the mode means not only working congruently within a system, but the ability to create, or co-create, systems. (This starts to point even beyond 4, toward stage 5.) It includes the ability to enter and exit roles (not merely relationships) by choice, and to create roles for yourself (and others) based on the team’s needs. The central issue here is how to resolve conflicts between the different views on what the needs of the team or organization are.

Phase 5

In phase 5 – on top of all the achievements of the 4th phase – one can be friendlier toward paradox and opposites and seeks to hold on to multiple systems. It’s alignment to the dialectic rather than either pole is an essential ability in, for example, a role as a scrum master.

Ken Wilber describes even further stages of development, which I do not describe here because they are very rare..

Information on developmental stages

  • “A Brief History of Everything”, Ken Wilber, pages 171 to 285 about development stages
  • “The evolving Self” , “In over our heads” en “An everyone Culture, becoming a deliberately developmental organization”, Robert Kegan

3. Is development always necessary?

Is personal development or growth to a next development phase equally important for all teams? I’ll explore that question from an Orange perspective, a rational or early phase 4 worldview.

Based on the type of task, four types of teams can be distinguished:
Does the team beforehand know what the result should be and does the team beforehand know how to get to the result?1

1 Erik de Haan, Team Coaching

type of teamexampleneed of
OrchestraTeam knows what should happen and how it should be doneFactory, government departmentsLeadership control, quality control
QuestTeam knows what should happen, but does not know how how to set aboutProject team, construction teamA present leader, collaborative foreman
ExpeditionTeam knows how to set about, bus does not know the outcomeFilm production, research and clinical work at hospitals or universitiesFeedback and challenge in terms of performance
ImprovTeam does not know the outcome and does not know how to set aboutInnovation and development teamsReflection and coaching of learning and development cycles

All these teams can be self-managing, in case of the expedition team and the improv team the task requires self-steering. Those teams need to be thinking deeper and cooperate on what they are doing with relatively little certainty and agreement. That is exactly what is so difficult in earlier developmental stages.

Promoting reflection, feed back and exploring collective patterns leads to more awareness – the ingredient that promotes personal growth. Team reflection provides understanding and insight, feedback for team members from all levels and combining diverse opinions. Teams that reflect are more innovative2 and deliver better performance3. Reflection especially promotes innovation in teams that were already busy and under pressure4.

In part one of this article you can find a list of practical tools for team reflection: Beyond self-management, part 1.

2 Tjosvold, 2004

3 TSchippers, 2008

4 Schippers, 2015

4. We are already focused on personal and team development

Without a solid framework for personal development and growth, development efforts easily help people to function more effectively within the current development phase. Support is focused on ‘technical change’: more information, more skills. There is nothing wrong with ‘technical change’, it just does not promote personal growth.

A couple of examples:

An individual in stage 3 is likely to get stuck with his or her time, have too many tasks and it is probably difficult to set priorities and make choices. If someone does ask for help, that question comes from the current phase and will be for something that helps to be more comfortable within the current development phase, such as a time management course or a coach to help set priorities.

And in most organizations, that is exactly what this person gets. It does help to know something about time management and to explore your priorities. And I think there’s a lot more to be gained -for the individual, the group and the organization- with a development- oriented approach. In that approach the individual gets help developing their own values, to evaluate others’ expectations, to explore what has the most value or meaning and to make choices. Then too many tasks, priorities or work life balance are no longer a biggie.

A team in phase 3 team facing conflict, will probably ask for “something” to help them better understand each other (for example, an MBTI workshop), or “something” to better be able to convince others” (for example, a workshop ‘dealing with difficult people’). The question and solution are completely in line with Stage 3’s focus on interpersonal relationships. Taking a step towards developing to the next phase requires something different: individual and collective reflection, exploring the structural side of the conflict (what contributes to what, what is most meaningful), the team solving their differences of opinion themselves , with a conflict instruction manual and perhaps with some help.

An organization or team that’s firmly embedded in stage 4 is likely to deal effectively with conflicting views within the team. The key issue here is to extend that ability to dealing with conflicting views in the area of its own system. How can a team add more value to-better integrate with -the environment? How can the team connect with the rest of its own organization – traditionally managed – or with the organization of the customer without adjusting to a previous phase? Those questions go far beyond traditional “negotiating roles”. This asks for a team that deeply understands how cooperation evolves and how to transcend apparent contradictions.

About Leonie de Vree

I’m a believer in the growth of consciousness of people and teams and I want to contribute to the development of people in organizations. The core of my work is to support growing individuals and teams. I think it is important to make tools that help people develop accessible to everyone and I hope I contribute to that by writing these posts./p>

I have been working as a coach, trainer and facilitator for 15 years. My formal qualifications for supporting development are a Masters in executive coaching, training as “Immunity to change- facilitator” and Socratic moderator. My personal qualifications are my love for development, growth and learning and the ability to deal with discomfort and uncertainty along the way.

Please do contact me if you have feedback, queries or remarks!

06 50692091

23 May 2017 | Published by Leonie de Vree