IDM – An Institute Supporting the Art and Science of Agile Development
In today’s tumultuous global environment, organizations and institutions face many critical challenges.
Two of them stand out:
- Strengthening organizational innovation through design thinking
- Supporting self-organizing and cross-functional teams in handling real-world complexity integrally and holistically
Our value proposition addressing these issues is based on validated social-emotional and cognitive research, undertaken for the sake of understanding adults’ development to self-authoring. This understanding includes how adults grow into self-authoring through work, and over time improve in accountability of work delivery. Our research paved the way to CDF, the Constructive Developmental Framework (Laske 1999-2000), a set of novel assessment, dialog and listening tools for spurring innovation. Innovation, for us, is based on finding new ways of conceptualizing and delivering work freed from the hierarchical shackles of old, in combination with new, technologies.
We excel by turning the experience we make with clients right back to them, teaching them self-authoring through evidence-based design thinking. In this way, they learn to create “open-system” organizations that include them as the singly most important innovation potential. Such an organization is naturally and deliberately committed to supporting the self-development of its contributors and stakeholders and to safeguarding its social and physical environment.
CDF tools emerged from listening to clients in interviews, and thus are dialogical by nature (as is design thinking). Used by individuals as well as teams, they do not stop short at simply describing, but extend to constructing, the world. One powerful form of constructing one’s world is designing it. Design involves empirical assessment, hypothesis formulation and testing, assumption mapping, fallacy discovery, as well as social-emotional self-testing within a team setting (“who am I independently of this team?”). In CDF, all of these tools operate on a meta-level of reflection. On that level, the structure of individuals’ reasoning in real time becomes the target of team attention, and thus itself an integral part of design activity.
We are known for encouraging our clients to bring to life in themselves forms of meta-thinking. These forms shed light on the structure of their reasoning in real time, not just the momentary content of their reasoning. As a result, we provide, and expertly model, evidence that “one could view this situation quite differently and more integrally”, whether it is a business model canvas or one’s team’s performance in constructing it.
Our key resources are found in DTF (Dialectical Thought Form Framework), CDF’s cognitive core set of tools. Exercising them expertly, we help clients move everyday discourse — and thus business as usual — from logic-analytical and systems thinking to what we call transformational thinking. Such thinking does not stop at dealing with mere “change” but continues through to understanding transformation in the real world (of which change is only a small part).
Transformational thinking naturally engenders, as well as easily marries, emotional openness and the acknowledgement of others, erecting a bulwark against defensiveness.
As interviewing and listening experts, we are keenly aware of the limits of logical thinking in the human effort to discover what is real. Based on our own experience, we view the mastery of transformational thinking as a condition of acquiring critical realism regarding the world, not only the world designed by people but the world outside of it in which human designs are embedded. Modeling critical realism for our clients simply by the way we think and speak, we instill theory-practice consistency in the activities of individuals, teams, and teams of teams: our clients actually do what they think.
As a result, our world is not only designed in a lean but also deep way; it is also closer to the real world than purely logical thinking can ever hope to come. And as a consequence, it scales well for everybody involved.
It is this continuum that underlies all offerings of the Interdevelopmental Institute (IDM).
Complex Thinking for Integral Leaders
This first book on complexity thinking for integral leaders will come in handy at a time of great turmoil in the global economy, reflected in organizational attempts at agile thinking, lean start ups, and forestalling the risk of defeat by disruptive business models. The author critiques the sole reliance on formal logical thinking, showing how via systems thinking a path can be cleared to what he calls transformational thinking, based on Roy Bhaskar’s Dialectical Critical Realism.
In particular, the book focuses on agile teams and pods, pointing to both the risks and opportunities of flexible managerial hierarchies and distributed leadership. It not only teaches the rudiments of transformational thinking but also gives many examples of how to boost complex dialog — connected to the real world — in teams.
By introducing the four moments of dialectic and their associated thought forms, the book suggests avenues toward transforming organizational and institutional cultures through dialog, opening up new vistas toward agile action logics beyond purely logical thinking.