Town of Vail: Living Labs

Town of Vail with Hal Rabbino

The project with the Town of Vail covered the first two weeks of December 1998, exploring how this very successful global-destination ski resort could meet the needs of its visitors and its residents simultaneously.  Using the emerging Strategic Clarity process, we engaged the leadership of the Town of Vail in a strategic systems process.

Initial Project Description

In this 13-minute exploration, Hal provides an overview of this strategic process, initial insights, key experiences or shifts in the participants, and documented impacts.

Video (or audio-only version)

ISC Live Lab Co-investment and Return on Co-investment

Context.  In 1998, we were refining our understanding of strategic systems mapping and developing the synthetic analysis method for identifying systemic leverage points.

Co-investment.  In this fieldwork in the mountains of Colorado, we co-invested our intellectual property of strategic systems thinking and system dynamics simulation.

Return on Co-investment.  The return on this co-investment was confirming the efficiency of our strategic systems process for unifying a diverse group of stakeholders around a common goal, a complex set of strategic dynamics, and the identification of a set of agreed-upon leverage points.

Further References

Global Colors Company — Mexico and Central America Operations: Living Labs

Global Colors Company with Luz Maria Puente Kawashima

The Global Colors Company project started in 2002 and took place within the food colors division of the Mexico and Central America operations of a global colors company. The project used strategic systems mapping to engage functional areas across the company to see themselves as a whole.

Initial Project Description

In this 16-minute exploration, Luz Maria provides an overview of the project, key insights and shifts in the participants.

Video (or audio-only version)

ISC Live Lab Co-investment and Return on Co-investment

Context.  In 2002, we had just published the book Managing from Clarity. We had refined our understanding of strategic systems mapping, and we were testing it in different organizational settings.

Co-investment.  In this fieldwork, we co-invested our intellectual property of strategic systems thinking.

Return on Co-investment.  The return on this co-investment was refining our development of processes for using the Strategic Clarity to bring diverse functions across a supply chain into a unified whole at the business level.

Kraft Mexico: Living Labs

Kraft Mexico with Conrado Garcia Madrid

The Kraft Mexico project in 2003 brought together the Kraft Mexico sales team with its top distributors to understand the underlying dynamics of what worked and did not work in the sales system for them.  Combining system dynamics simulation and strategic clarity analysis, this project culminated in a 1.5-day event with 60 participants from Kraft and their lead distributors.

Initial Project Description

In this 21-minute exploration, Conrado provides an overview of this strategic process, initial insights, key experiences or shifts in the participants, and innovations in working with other consulting processes and in bringing together a large group of stakeholders.

Video (or audio-only version)

ISC Live Lab Co-investment and Return on Co-investment

Context.  In 2003, we were integrating systemic strategy and impact measurement.

Co-investment.  In this fieldwork with Kraft, we co-invested our intellectual property of strategic systems thinking and system dynamics simulation.

Return on Co-investment.  The return on this co-investment was refining our understanding of the process in integrating our strategic systems process with formal system dynamics simulation, and in the development of strategic measurement tools based on the strategic systems simulation.

Further References

INVITATION — Do You Know a Mathematically Trained, Abundance-Oriented Person?

Do you know someone trained in mathematics with an abundance-based orientation?

I am looking for a colleague to work with me in the development of the underlying field-theoretic mathematics of the agreements field equations. We would work on the mathematics, validating them with them with the large data set we have from over 100,000 agreements-health survey responses and empirical data from our field studies describing over 1,000 groups. This work on our scholarly understanding of agreements fields will directly benefit the communities we work with, and will be shared through joint publications, courses, and on-going fieldwork.

I would love to invite her/him/them to engage with our work.  If you know someone like this, please let me know.

Delta-R Oilfield Integration Services: Living Labs

Delta-R with Hal Rabbino

The Delta-R project, 2000-2001, integrated the strategic systems understanding into an online platform for an integrated understanding of the oilfield in hydrocarbon asset valuation.  The project started by developing the software, with the Delta-R software team, that integrated the system dynamics simulation capacity with the strategic systems framework to integrate different elements of the oilfield in one platform, which was then applied with Hal in two settings in Africa and one in Europe.

Initial Project Description

In this 8-minute exploration, Hal provides an overview of this strategic process, its rollout in the field, initial insights, key experiences, and shifts in the participants.

Video (or audio-only version)

ISC Live Lab Co-investment and Return on Co-investment

Context.  In 2001, we had just published the book Managing from Clarity. We had refined our understanding of strategic systems mapping, and we were actively developing the synthetic analysis method for identifying systemic leverage points.

Co-investment.  In this set of projects with Delta-R, we co-invested our intellectual property of strategic systems thinking and system dynamics simulation, and our financial capital in building a strategic systems simulation platform with Delta-R.

Return on Co-investment.  The return on this co-investment was learning how to integrate strategic systems thinking into a simulator environment of a specific complex environment.

REPOST — Guest Post — The Science Behind Our Yes!

With over 5,000 “listens” to this radio interview with integral rock star Maureen Metcalf from September 2021, I thought I would re-share it.

What is the science behind your Yes!?  

For those of you who prefer audio or video, Maureen and I explore this in a radio interview.  If you prefer text, Lou and I explore this in a blogpost.

We welcome your insights.

Comision Estatal de Aguas de Queretaro (water systems in Mexico): Living Labs

Comision Estatal de Aguas de Queretaro with Conrado Garcia Madrid

The Comision Estatal de Aguas de Queretaro project in 2006, with follow up in 2016, worked with the governmental agency leaders and some of their stakeholders to shift their strategy.  This project involved coordination with a simultaneous reengineering project, and culminated in a table of direct action plans for each area within the commission, using a results-based management approach to measurement and action planning.

Initial Project Description
In this 17-minute exploration, Conrado provides an overview of this strategic process, initial insights, key experiences or shifts in the participants, and innovations in working with other a reengineering processes and in grounding the strategic systems insights into action plans for a results-based management approach.

Video (or audio-only version)

ISC Live Lab Co-investment and Return on Co-investment

Context.  In 2006, we had founded the Institute for Strategic Clarity three years earlier, developing our understanding of the sustained use of strategic systems frameworks in long-term relationships.

Co-investment.  In this 10-year relationship with the water authority of Leon (Mexico), we  co-invested our intellectual property of strategic systems thinking and system dynamics simulation, and our social capital of the many other leaders in Mexico working with our approach.

Return on Co-investment.  The return on this co-investment came in the refinement of our understanding of the utility of strategic systems tools over multiple iterations of the strategic process and the engagement of increasing circles of community leadership as the long-term, strategic systems initiative evolved.

Further References

Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell: Living Labs

Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell with Luz Maria Puente KawashimaHal Rabbino, and Marshall Clemens

The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell project in 2002 used strategic systems mapping and idiagrams to engage the leadership of a very impactful nonprofit, serving over 200 kids in Lowell, MA (USA), and on the brink of financial collapse, in a strategic renewal.  This required quick wins towards long-term health.  The process brought the board and faculty together to revision the board, its role, and the work of the faculty with the board to invigorate fundraising and community building.  From then with 1 month of funding until the doors were shut to now with new buildings and an endowment to increase its financial resilience, the Club came together to imagine and materialize a healthier future, doubling the population of boys and girls served.

Initial Project Description

In this 21-minute exploration, Luz Maria provides an overview of the project, the 1-year process with a follow up 2 years later, key insights, key experiences or shifts in the participants, and potential and documented impacts.

Video version

ISC Live Lab Co-investment and Return on Co-investment

Context.  In 2002, we had just published the book Managing from Clarity. We had refined our understanding of strategic systems mapping, and we were actively developing the synthetic analysis method for identifying systemic leverage points, and how it could be used with community-based strategic processes.

Co-investment.  In this multi-year relationship with the Boys & Girls Club, we co-invested our intellectual property of strategic systems thinking and community-engagement processes.

Return on Co-investment.  The return on this co-investment was refining our processes and tools for engaging multi-lingual communities in taking up a long-term systemic strategy for the development of their own community.

Further References

Grupo Bal — Corporate: Living Labs

Grupo Bal with Hal Rabbino

The Grupo Bal project, in 1999, explored the strategic systems understanding of a corporate governance setting, understanding the interplay of multiple businesses and the role of the corporate function.

Initial Project Description

In this 10-minute exploration, Hal provides an overview of this strategic process, initial insights, key experiences, and shifts in the participants.

Video (or audio-only version)

ISC Live Lab Co-investment and Return on Co-investment

Context.  In 1999,  we were refining our strategic mapping of systems, and developing the synthetic analysis method for identifying systemic leverage points.

Co-investment.  In this fieldwork, we co-invested our intellectual property of the strategic systems thinking of complex systems, within the strategic framing of the corporate environment.

Return on Co-investment.  The intellectual return on our co-investment came in the exploration of strategic systems thinking when applied to a corporate environment, exploring the value generated and strategic leverage points for the corporate group managing a portfolio of companies.  A key insight gained was in formulating the valuation of a corporate group of companies as a combination of the current value and the risk of the future value, a risk that is partly controlled by the way that the corporate group works with the portfolio of companies.  This valuation of an underlying system of enabling and value-driving resources works nicely with the systemic view of the strategic elements of the corporate group.

We were invited with leadership from Grupo Bal to present the findings of this work at a conference on strategic measurement at Harvard, bringing a return on our social capital co-invested, developing a relationship with the creators of the Balanced Scorecard, which would play out in future research.

Further References

Guest Post: Mapping and Shifting Our Readiness for Change

by Joe Bienkiewicz

The Strategic SCAN framework is a structured set of concepts and associated questions that enables one to determine a group’s potential effectiveness in working together to meet a common goal. It provides directional guidance to the user as they assess their specific answers so that they can strengthen their team’s relationships, dynamics, and abilities.

I applied the Strategic SCAN framework to my primary working group, the Senior Leadership Team of a US subsidiary of an international medical-solutions company. My goal was to assess our team’s readiness for change against the backdrop of a global pandemic that has presented our team and our customers with many challenges over the past year. Our business, like thousands of others, was confronted with new challenges that required us to radically change how we make decisions to deliver products to our customers and the patients that rely on our life-saving technologies. We are experiencing change, whether we recognize it or not.

Our business success is evaluated, at the top layer, by traditional financial-performance metrics. Beneath this layer are dozens of key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure patent disclosures, product complaints, and almost everything in between. KPIs are used by many companies, factories, departments, and project groups to measure performance against standards that we think are important in contributing to our success. Meaningful KPIs are a tried-and-true tool that allow us to monitor and correct the factors that contribute to our business performance at a frequency that is greater than the frequency of required financial reporting. So, how do we effectively influence the operational factors that we care about BEFORE they negatively affect our business? Well, first, we must acknowledge that there is a layer that the first two layers, above, are built upon. This layer of business performance is our people, and the performance metric is contained in the feelings and unique perspectives of our employees, our peers, and the people we report to. 

I have to admit that this is a perspective that I did not have prior to applying the Strategic SCAN framework to my current work situation. I am a Chemical Engineer by training, and I operate within the relative certainty that science, technology, and engineering provide. While seldom absolute, the things I work on are correct, acceptable, complete, or incorrect, unacceptable, and incomplete, regardless of how I feel about them. The laws of chemistry and the principles of material science can easily be applied by another person to check my work for suitability to our technical problems. However, these principles offer little utility in increasing team engagement or addressing business and management issues that I have encountered as I continue to progress through my career. My thinking had become rigid and predictable, and thus limited in applicability to the majority of issues that I currently encounter in my management role.

I opted to apply the Strategic SCAN concept by interviewing my manager and each of my peers, using questions and concepts provided in the Strategic SCAN framework. The interviews were one on one and scheduled for 30 minutes in length. I emphasized that I was looking to explore each person’s feelings about their experience through a question-and-answer format and that there could be feelings of vulnerability that come along with such a request. The goal was to triangulate the group’s current situation by assessing what we say we do (procedures and agreements) against what we perceive that we do (interviews) against the third dimension of our results.

For example, to help identify whether our team has a deeper shared purpose to guide us in our decision making, I asked each participant the following questions: 

  • Why does our site exist, and what is our purpose?
  • Do you feel connected to that purpose?
  • Do you think the group is aligned with that purpose?

This relatively simple trio of questions proved to be quite powerful in determining alignment of the team and our perceptions of each other as we work together. We each had a similar definition of our site’s purpose, with predictable nuances that aligned to roles and responsibilities. The overwhelming majority of participants also felt a strong alignment to their stated purpose. Unexpectedly, most participants felt that others were not properly aligned to that purpose. These questions identified that my coworkers and I are passionate and that we connect to a narrative that speaks to “the why” of what we do. This process also helped to uncover an opportunity for our team to focus on improving and increasing our trust in one another as we align ourselves to a deeper shared purpose. Identifying and clarifying that narrative should be a powerful tool that we can use as a guide in our decision-making processes. 

To determine whether the intended recipients of our work want and are able to receive what we offer, I asked each person the following question: Does our group understand who we serve, and do we communicate with them frequently enough to know what they want? I did not expect that we would develop a high level of insight into our ecosystem from this process, and that while we all identified our customers and their beloved patients, many of us serve unique internal and external customers that were not universally understood by the rest of the team. This revealed that we do not share a common understanding of our ecosystem, nor do we fully understand how to reach our customers and their patients in the work we do every day. In addition, nearly all of us agree that we do not communicate with those customers often enough to know what they want. These personal perspectives are powerful in aligning the team to a meaningful mission to reach those we serve, but they are somewhat lost in the day-to day completion of our individual job functions. 

I also underestimated the openness that I encountered in the interview process and the resulting feelings of connection that developed in just 30 minutes. We are simply humans, and these are humans that I have spent thousands of hours with, solving problems and making decisions. We have agreed, disagreed, argued, and celebrated together over the years, but, I had never asked them how they felt, what they were experiencing in our interactions, in what we do for our clients. This simple act of asking about feelings, combined with the direction provided by the Strategic SCAN, resulted in a treasure trove of useful information about our perceptions of purpose, our connection to our customers, and how we work together. This has enormous utility for the group, and it has served as a foundation for our team to continue to work on the factors that contribute to our effectiveness and readiness for the inevitable changes that we will experience together. 

The unexpected result is that this simple, but powerful exercise has shifted my perspective towards recognizing the importance of shared experiences, and it has given me an additional set of tools to apply to what I previously considered intangible problems.