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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

HSD 2.1

Luke's comment on HSD 2 is:

'So to take one example: what if there was no interaction with consultants and managers (from the Exchanges) - how much less successful would a BootCamp be?

Possibly related question: how do you know which Differences/Exchanges are most useful/relevant?”

Luke: Thanks for your comment and great questions!

My quick reaction is that every BootCamp is so different in our experience that one can't say what changes would have what result. The learning in BootCamp is so rich, that every group surprises us with it's creativity and response to their learning, and so the detail of every BootCamp result is different.

Nonetheless; we do follow the Instructor Protocols carefully because experience has shown us that this approach always leads to great results no matter what group of people participates. And we are aware of groups attempting to run their own second BootCamp without the consultants and managers. My understanding is that they found the session less satisfying and effective.

So what is missing without the Exchanges from the consultants and managers? Actually, most of the learning opportunity!

Without the Consultants, the Camp becomes an experience without expanded learning – a repetition of what one has already learned. An analogy would be learning a new language from a book or software program and talking to yourself or speaking it only with someone else would had learned the same way. Immersion in the language's country of origin just can't be beaten for the practice, gaining new vocabulary, formation of expressions and ideas, etc.

The Consultant role in BootCamp provides all the external guidance and experience to practice the Protocols, expand one's understanding of them, appreciate the nuances, gain insight, resolve any difficulties of understanding or execution. Those Exchanges are the “instruction”.

Without the Managers, the Camp lacks the drive toward a great product delivered on time. Each organization / enterprise exists to produce and provide a product or service. The Managers provide that direction and focus. The BootCamp team needs to experience and practice how to do that effectively, without drama and fog and pretence. The Exchanges with the Managers make the simulation “real” - how “Work” should work.

As to “which Differences/Exchanges are most useful/relevant?”: ALL of them! :-)

BootCamp provides a learning experience at the individual level, the team level, the Container of the Consultants and the team, the Container of the Managers and the team, the Container of the Consultants, Managers, and the the team, and often beyond that when family members are participating or involved remotely.

At any moment, in any instance, at every turn, a given Difference or Exchange can provide the subtle learning, or the life changing AHA! that makes the Camp meaningful and successful for a participant and the team as a whole.

In Human Systems Dynamics we talk about “the difference that makes a difference”. What makes BootCamp exciting for me is that any Difference or Exchange or Container can be that difference. One just needs to be open to the possibility.

Thanks again, Luke!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Last week I was talking about the Human Systems Dynamics course I had attended.

I'm actually still “attending” in that we are in between the class room sessions – the next week comes up soon – and I am supposed to be working on my assignment. The assignment is to, uh, er... What is the assignment? I'll have to look it up!

Anyway, I am sure that it involves continuing to practice the tools we started to learn and exercise.

For example:

Last time I was talking about some of the things that we learned and the intersection of that research with what we had experienced in our Teamwork BootCamps.

That is exciting because we always experience success with every group becoming a fully functional high performing team within a week, but we can't describe why to someone who hasn't experienced it.

(How does one describe falling in love to someone who hasn't?)

The Human Systems Dynamics (HSD) learning, and the research and experience that it is based on, helps us understand what we see occurring time and again, and provides insights as to what is going on in language that is useful. The terminology provides descriptors that make the dynamics of a group transforming into a true self organizing team more clear, and more explainable.

And that was an example of a delightfully simple tool: “What?, So what?, Now what?”


  • “... things that we learned and the intersection of that research with what we had experienced in our Teamwork BootCamps.”

So what?:

  • “... That is exciting... but we couldn't describe why.”

Now what?:

  • “Human Systems Dynamics terminology provides descriptors that make the dynamics of a group transforming into a true self organizing team more clear, and more explainable.”

In this example, nothing has actually changed – the team performance statistics stand on their own – but now we have better language – a model – that helps us to talk about it.

Additionally, we are learning about the three necessary and sufficient variables to change a human system: the Container, the Differences, the Exchanges - another model to not only better understand, but to also choose effective courses of action.

In BootCamp, some of the Containers are:

  • the group of people itself (the team to be),
  • the week of immersion using the tools,
  • the simulation of a work environment,
  • the physical space the group is using, etc.

The Differences from other teamwork sessions include:

  • the simulation which immerses one in the tools,
  • the freedom from risk,
  • the requirement to be responsible and accountable,
  • the activities of building a team product,
  • the deadline to ship or deliver that product by the end of the week

The Exchanges are:

  • the sharing of one's emotional state at any time,
  • the use of the rest of the Protocols to make decisions, resolve conflict, align oneself to improving a virtue, build shared vision, or choosing to pass on any of these and any activity one doesn't wish to participate in,
  • the interaction with the simulation's consultants and the managers.

How do these observations help?

Human Systems Dynamics teaches us that these three categories are all we need to concern ourself with in our analysis. Further, when we wish to determine the “Now What?” we only have to alter the formulation of one of these at a time: change the Container, change the Differences, change the Exchanges. Clearly that still covers a lot of ground. And it provides manageable clarity from which to act.

Working from our list we can see that BootCamp is successful because it provides that simulation Container, and the Difference of individual safety, and the Exchanges of the Core Protocols. And so on, with all the possible combinations. (Which emphasizes how much in human relationships BootCamp covers.)

And most usefully, it provides clarity on how BootCamp is a completely different type of team work experience, and why it is consistently successful.

“And then a miracle occurs....”