CIIC, 18 March 2017, Melbourne


The first CIIC workshop in Melbourne brought together a group of 14 highly motivated participants around the theme of neurodiversity. Following a brief overview of the 11 submitted problem statements, it took only one minute for participants to break out into two productive groups.

Group discussion A

Joanne Mihelcic, Jorn Bettin, Susan Long, Mark Boyes, Debbie Marks,
Keith Duddy, Joerg Kiegeland, Jannet Egber

The support system needed to nurture divergent thinking  in the context of collaboration within organisations and between organisations

This question emerged within the first 15 minutes of discussion as the shared interest of the group. Mark Boyes did a fantastic job of capturing the development of the discussion in a visual picture.

CIIC Melbourne 2017 03 18 Group A

When the discussion touched on corporate culture the following observation was made and not disputed by anyone in the group:

The big corporations that dominate the landscape of knowledge workers today will not be around in a generation (20 to 30 years) as they have no ability to renew themselves.

Corporations currently suffer from an unprecedented level of lack of trust from the outside (customers and suppliers) and from within (staff and contractors). The only reasons why most employees remain is the monthly pay check. Once staff realise the extent to which their colleagues and superiors distrust the corporation, and once they notice that customers and suppliers no longer play along, the game is up, and the entire house of cards of social delusions collapses. Attracting motivated young staff is already getting harder and harder, and demand is shrinking as disillusioned customers turn to more ethical suppliers of services and products.

The ‘corporatised’ older generations are already alienated from the younger generations that have yet to enter the “workforce”. Children notice the social mask that their parents take to work.

The group explored the feedback loop between beliefs, values, and behaviour that can either fuel or stand in the way of cultural evolution. Innovation can only take place in an environment where difference is accepted, where there is room for breaking social rules, and where conflict is used as a constructive element and not as a reason to reinforce rules and boundaries that may no longer be appropriate in the evolving wider context.

Participants observed that:

  • The education system is outdated and does not promote learning and critical thought.
  • Established social frameworks and hierarchies in particular represent barriers to learning.
  • Social media platforms are broken. They come with baked in value systems that encourage simplistic ‘engagement’ and social replication of beliefs, leading to group think rather than a critical learning process amongst peers.
  • High performance teams are self-selecting, focused on a shared goal, and held together by a shared understanding of the unique talents and capabilities of the other team members.
  • Visual languages can be useful in creating bridges of understanding between silos of domain expertise.

Group discussion B

Julien Leyre, Hamid Soltani, Jen Plant, Helen Palmer,
Dani Sirotic, Susan Long, Nisha Leena Sinha Roy

Individual behavioural patterns within the social context in typical work environments

CIIC Melbourne 2017 03 18 midday summary

The flow of discussion was captured in four sets of sticky notes:

Part 1 : Factors that influence behaviour

  • Structurally organisations do not reward anything that is risky or may cause chaos
  • Harmony = merging of dissonance
  • Harmony ≠ homogeneity
  • Discord is created to cause a ‘mood’ or ‘tension’ that is / may be good
  • Society’s blame game entails fear-mongering that leads to feelings of being judged
  • Frame of references define boundaries of harmony and discord
  • The dimensions of polarity that are used in a discourse matter more than discourse about the poles in each dimension
  • Our evolution often leads to a need to justify our position / belief
  • We bring our biases, which are so deep we don’t know them
  • We have the capacity to not experience emotion as data
  • Honesty and dishonesty
  • Preoccupation with survival leads to our downfall

Part 2 : Processing of sensory input

  • Trigger: “Safety”? Feeling unsafe
  • Behaviour: justify
  • Behaviour: judging
  • Behaviour: resistance
  • Feeling: irritated
  • Feeling: I see my reflection and I hate it
  • Feeling: physiology of anger, upset, defence
  • Coping strategy: awareness
  • Coping strategy: I’m learning
  • Stance: conscious

Part 3 : Patterns of social interaction

  • Emotional nuclear bomb
  • If someone verbalises something, there is no need to always respond
  • Teaching moment => not for everyone
  • Linguistics: I vs We
  • Leading with dis-empowerment
  • Express judgement
    (I respect with honesty | I value your choice and freedom | I respect your space | I care)
  • How much power need? Do I feel the need to be aggressive
    (what rubbish | hip hip hooray | don’t care)
  • Do we have to please them because they have power?

Part 4 : Breaking the mould of established patterns – learning

  • Exposure to experience is key to your frame of reference
  • Baseline “how are you feeling” before session starts
  • Emotion and behaviour is data that needs to be processed and contextualised
  • Warm up! Circuit breaker!
  • How to change comfortably? Successfully?
  • Naturally empowered and self-managed workers
  • Know your limits; using volumetrics
  • Skill and insight required to drive change
  • Top down < MANAGE TENSION > bottom up
  • Measuring thinking effort with caloric count (BMI chair)
  • How do we wake up?
  • Social dynamic card game => teaching need for feedback
  • Open your palate; conscious intervention

Group discussion C

Following a presentation of the results of both groups, participants came together again after the lunch break in one group.

The obstacles that stand in the way of collaboration across organisational boundaries

  • Group identities are a significant obstacle in establishing trust across organisational boundaries
  • Especially if individuals value systems are not fully aligned with the organisational values – which is the default in all large corporations
  • The autistic perspective on individual relationships provides a good model for optimising collaboration across organisational boundaries
    1. Start assuming that there is no shared understanding and that there are no shared values
    2. Both parties openly share their core values
    3. The overlap of core values determines the foundation for collaboration. No party tries to persuades the other party to adopt new values. Instead curiosity may lead one party to inquire about unfamiliar values. New values are only adopted and old values are only discarded when a new level of conscious understanding / insight is reached, and not as a result of any kind of coercion.
    4. Exploring what is possible based on the current level of
      (a) shared understanding and interests,
      (b) complementary domain expertise,
      (c) joint capacity.
    5. Having the courage to share new/crazy ideas, and joint exploration/validation of such ideas via instantiation and mapping to past experiences.

Many people leave some of their personal values at the door when they go to work in a corporation.

When working with colleagues within an organisation, interactions are frequent and knowledge can often be shared along informal networks using pragmatic protocols, minimising the perceived conflict with personal values.

However, when interacting across the organisational boundary, employees are highly conscious of the expectation to represent the organisation and all its values. This can create significant challenges, not because the employees are incapable, but because organisational values may clash with the expectations of external parties, and because required protocol may stand in the way of a meaningful dialogue and a working feedback loop that allows the organisation to learn.

The group concluded with the observation that different team contexts can lead to  different forms of collaboration, each of which has unique characteristics that may be worthwhile exploring in a future CIIC workshop:

  1. Conformance and ‘doing’ within an operational team
  2. Divergence and creative exploration within a team involved in prototyping
  3. Synthesis and implementation based on new insights within a team developing new products and services
  4. Teams defined by roles embedded within an organisational hierarchy
  5. Self-selected / emergent high performance teams