Our theoretical foundations

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We get asked about whether we base our work on Lean or ToC, waterfall or Agile, Scrum or Kanban, cybernetics or something-or-other, Freud or Jung (well, almost) …. The answer is we don’t care.
We use elements of  OpenSpace, Lean, ToC, Scrum, Kanban, Kaizen, Sociocracy, and who knows what else, as it suits the situation. Not religion, quackery like Myers Briggs, or Dianetics, which somebody seriously brought up on LinkedIn (only time I ever deleted a comment).  Critical thinking is essential to discern which bits of what are useful to carry along, and which to eject.

We talk a bit about Cynefin because it is a widely recognised sense-making framework, useful in VUCA, but truth be told we don’t use Cynefin much, as we don’t use any abstractions except as background knowledge.  We like Spiral Dynamics and Laloux’s Teal (obviously), for the stories they tell to illuminate the world, not because we think it’s gospel truth. We’ve seen harm done by people so immersed in theory that they’ve lost sight of reality. It turns to precious posturing pontification.

Not to go all mystic, but we must let go of the perfectionism around which one. It matters less than we think. The models are so divorced from reality in specific practical work situations that they only offer a light. If there is a wildly different level of illumination then we pay more attention, but mostly they’re all pretty dim. We need a bunch of them.

The looking matters more than the light.

We are very focused on practical actions in context. We may explain why we do something, when people want a rationale. We might refer to an “authority” to show we are not making it up. But we resist platonicity: we don’t care about the theory, only what works. Work isn’t about being theoretically correct. It is about finding what is possible to get the desired result. [No that’s not the end justifying the means. A result is “desired” within our values].

I often get caught out with ambiguous or incorrect terminology, or loose thinking. If I’m sloppy it’s because I dont care. All intellectual frameworks are just boards we use to keep us out of the mud. They’re useful but they don’t need to be polished to a shine.
We have a higher purpose than the constructs themselves.

What’s more, work is human. It’s as  much about ethics and aesthetics as it is about science and intellect.  At Teal Unicorn we work with the mind and the heart.  It’s not only about what’s correct, but also what is good and beautiful.

As your thinking rises above, the specifics of frameworks and models fall away as operational noise, and we focus on more important things, like humanity and thriving.

as I rise above the treeline and the clouds
I look down hearing the sound of the things you said today
– Pink Floyd