DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Value of Disruptions

Written by: on January 13, 2021

It appears that the average person spends 13 years and 2 months of their adult life at work. If they work consistent overtime, another 1 year and 2 months can be added to that number. On the other hand, it appears we spend only around 328 days in our lifetime socializing with friends.[1] When crunching the numbers, it looks like that average person spends over 11,000 hours over their lifetime at work. According to a Gallup poll only 15% of employees feel engaged at work meaning the remaining 85% of those working either dislike their jobs or are not happy at work.[2] According to authors Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey in their book An Everyone Culture the majority of people at work spend a great deal of time hiding who they really are while trying to manage other people’s impressions of who we are.[3] Their solution is to look at an organization’s potential through the lens of what they call a DDO (Deliberately Developmental Organization). A DDO makes the holistic developmental potential of everyone in the organization a top priority, as well as a common event.[4]

This concept of concentrating on the growth and potential of everyone in the organization flies in the face of organizations that prioritize the training and growth of only those who prove themselves worthy or those in power, leavening the rest to fend for themselves. It reminds me of an Aesop’s fable. “A Lion, Fox and Ass are all hunting together. They all gathered a huge amount of food and now had to decide how to divide it. The Lion asked the Ass to divide the food. So, the Ass chose to divide the portions equally. This made the Lion, the king of beasts angry and with his paw he killed the Ass. The Lion then asked the Fox to divide the food. The Fox wasted no time. He quickly gave a huge heap to the Lion and only kept a small portion to himself. The Lion asked the Fox, who taught you to divide so fairly? The Fox replies, I learned from the Ass.”[5]

Jesus in the gospel of Matthew is clear that he came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. (5:17) In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus disrupts the natural assumptions of his listeners six times. Each time he states, “You have heard” then responds, “But I say.” Each time he takes an assumption and disrupts it giving them a new understanding and meaning of what was truly intended.[6]  A key to being a Deliberately Developmental Organization appears to be the ability to disrupt the natural assumptions and tendencies of people allowing them to see the deeper meaning and possibilities that lie beneath the surface. According to Kegan and Lahey “Probably every genuinely disruptive idea in the world at first seems to fly in the face of taken-for-granted assumptions about immutable limitations. That is essentially what makes ideas disruptive. They do not disrupt only how we behave; they disrupt how we think.”[7] That’s the glory with certain types of disruptions, they force us to face a side of ourselves we most likely wouldn’t choose to face. Part of growing holistically is learning how to embrace the potential beyond the normal assumptions of life.

 

[1] https://www.payscale.com/career-news/2018/10/heres-how-many-years-youll-spend-work-in-your-lifetime

[2] https://www.staffsquared.com/blog/why-85-of-people-hate-their-jobs/

[3] Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Developmental Organization (Boston, Harvard Business Review Press; Boston, 2016), 1

[4] Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, An Everyone Culture, 3

[5] https://www.imagineforest.com/blog/life-lessons-aesops-fables/

[6] Matthew 5: 21,22;27,28;31,31;33,34;38,39; and 43,44.

[7] Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, An Everyone Culture, 286

About the Author

mm

Greg Reich

Entrepreneur, Visiting Adjunct Professor, Arm Chair Theologian, Leadership/Life Coach, married 39 years, father and grandfather. Jesus follower, part time preacher! Handy man, wood carver, carpenter and master of none. Outdoor enthusiast, fly fisherman, hunter and all around gun nut.

12 responses to “The Value of Disruptions”

  1. mm Darcy Hansen says:

    We sure do hate those disruptions of assumptions! I wonder if our perception of growth and change would be different if we not only knew the statistics you provided, but also had permission to choose a different path? It seems these DDOs are trying to do that, but they seem to be isolated bubbles of existence? How do we begin to change the cultural perception that we just have to endure work ( maybe millennials are leading the way in this? )? In our digital and service driven age, it is very difficult to shake those long held business practices forged during the industrial revolution. In your experience of coaching leaders, what is often the catalyst within a leader that leads to holistic, disruptive change within their organizations? How is that proposition to change received by the organization and sustainably navigated through by the leader? I’m just really struggling to see how these DDO principles play out in real world situations where current cultural norms are deeply embedded in the identity of employees and leaders.

    • mm Greg Reich says:

      Darcy,
      You ask some very valid questions. I think generational differences play a big role in whether a DDO would function or not. I also think unions would inhibit the DDO concept. You may be right that millennials are paving the way. They are the first generation all about teams as well as, high expectations for the work place. I love the idea and concept but believe that it would struggle in most church settings. It may work in a church with a strong emotionally mature lead, but as long as pastors are addicted to the power of the pulpit a DDO would be challenging. Church or no church people tend to avoid confrontation. I also think with todays frail younger generation many of them would never survive a DDO.

  2. mm Jer Swigart says:

    I appreciate your distinction that DDO’s focus on the development of all employees rather than those who seem worthy of development. I wonder if the strategy behind this faulty approach is that an increase in the formation of top leaders will result in an increase in profitability.

  3. mm Dylan Branson says:

    Greg, in your experience of working in business, how did you focus on developing others within your companies? Was the conversation An Everyone Culture attempts to start part of your own leadership?

    • mm Greg Reich says:

      Dylan,
      We flattened the organization chart and passed the responsibility and decision making power for everyday operations down to the people in the field. They had lots of training and support and a very good perks but were held accountable. I don’t think is was an everyone culture as much as, an efficiency empowerment model. I have always been a holistic leader and concerned with employee growth but, the challenge I found is most employees do not have a holistic mindset. I also found in the natural gas pipeline industry as a person in middle management there were huge time constraints and central location issues. Things were spread out and though there was a central local office the majority of my employees worked out of remote locations strategically placed along the pipeline corridor. Capital projects with a large number of union contract hands and inspectors were a totally different dynamic especially when unions were involved. In my case I would not have had the power to orchestrate a DDO format; if I had I would have gotten me tar and feathered.

      • mm John McLarty says:

        This is a great point. There are definitely some places where a DDO mindset would be such a foreign concept, and maybe even detrimental. My question for the authors would be, “is an employer obligated to deliberately develop people, or should people take more responsibility for their own growth and look for ways and places to become more whole on their own?”

  4. mm Shawn Cramer says:

    Greg, that’s a great quote about disruptive ideas. I missed that on my way through! I think I’ll be writing my syntopical essay on the emotional process of disruptive change. Any insight or sources for me?

    • mm Greg Reich says:

      Shawn,

      Great topic. Life is all about disruptions, breaking things down to build them up. Weight lifters strain and stress their muscles in order for them to be redesigned and expanded. We disrupt our understanding through reading and study in order to expand our knowledge. We often disrupt our comfort in order to move and expand our influence within a company or ministry. Disruption is all about breaking down, reorganizing in order to expand and rebuild. Disruption is a Hosea 10:12 concept. Breaking up fallow ground, ground left idle that was allowed to go wild and become unproductive.

      I am personally focusing on the emotional intelligence side of self differentiation.
      I have limited knowledge of disruptive leadership beyond my personal life studies but I would check out the below website and a book by Charlene Li; The Disruption Mindset. I am familiar with her books but haven’t read this one. It is in my library of books to read I just haven’t gotten to it yet.

      https://www.elevatecorporatetraining.com.au/2019/05/03/the-7-characteristics-of-disruptive-leaders/#:~:text=A%20disruptive%20employee%20is%20someone,in%20our%20world%20is%20changing.

  5. mm John McLarty says:

    Greg, I wonder about the process of being “the first one over the wall,” in bringing a disruption like the deliberately developmental approach into a traditional top-down organization. What “coaching” would you give to the one who wants to introduce this concept?

    • mm Greg Reich says:

      John,

      Great question! Though I don’t have a particular process around “the first one over the wall” I do coach around the importance of influence and paving the way for others. I have helped clients look at the importance of legacy and allowing younger leaders to stand on our shoulders in order to go above and beyond where we have gone.

  6. mm Chris Pollock says:

    I wonder how the fox really feels?

    Thanks for including such an appropriate story to give way to the ‘idea train’.

    The DDO, it seems, creates a space for truth. A space where truth (one’s own and as it pertains to the community) might be expressed and considered regardless of position and power.

    I like the idea of ‘disruption’, intentional and graceful and safe ‘disruption’ for a community set toward growth. There’s pain to it? Uneasiness? Perhaps, pain and uneasiness are markers for going in the right direction?

    Thank you for including the difficulty in facing ‘the stuff’. Not easy, for ‘the stuff’ in secret and scary, dark places. Here’s the call for courage in leadership! Enlightening the assumptions, being curious toward origins and usefulness (or, inutility) of ‘the stuff’.

    Thanks Greg, thanks for helping to push the limits a little further…painful to perceive as some of it can be, at times.

Leave a Reply