Story of a Masthead
mouse over and click on Masthead to go to
Organizational transformation Paper
20 years, Graphics, Modeling Transformation
The pictures and graphics that make up this Masthead span 20 years. The picture of me at a WorkWall was taken in 1985 - I was 47 at the time and we had just left Acacia and were starting iteration4 [link] of MG Taylor’s history. The two Abscapes studies [link], Hierarchy and Quo Vatus, were drawn by me in 1987. My picture, in the orange sweater, was taken at the WEF Annual Meeting this last January. 2005 [link], the powering up time of iteration6 [link] of MG Taylor’s evolution. This masthead evolved, as is described below, as a reminder that you cannot take yourself out of the process of organizational transformation nor can you avoid the personal consequences of it. The Transition Manager [link] [link] is not immune from the process nor from the personal consequences of it.
Each of the Masthead’s components have both denotative and connotative meaning. Each contain memory [link]. Each has a spatial relationship to each other which, itself, is content. Together, they illustrate a process and tell a story. The story has many aspects; it is one telling; it is not the whole of it but, like a hologram fragment, it contains it all if only in partial resolution. The focus of this piece is to tie together some personal threads of my experiences facilitating organizational transformation and the consequences of doing so. In do this, the goal is to brings some clarity to the role of the Transition Manager.
I am explaining, circa 1985, the MG Taylor strategy for facilitating organizational transformation on a global scale [link]: a ValueWeb of NavCenters supporting Transition managers who are designing and facilitating the emergence of a better world.
There are deliberately distorted perspectives and horizon lines in this 1987 Abscape study. The size of the people are “wrong.” The attitude is one of ambiguity and uncertainly. There is clearly a choice, but the future is no more certain than the path to the past. Which way will they go?
At Davos 05 wondering what it is all about. This event should have been a celebration but circumstances clouded what was a benchmark occasion for our work. Perhaps 06 - if there is one - will see the practice more fully accomplished. It is essential to keep this moment in context of a life-time of work.
This side of transformation, the feedback to our work is from the old paradigm of organizational structure. “Structure wins.” This does not mean that the feedback is all negative. Negative or positive, the context is from the Industrial Era and has to be understood as such.
Playing the Glass Bead game further, see below, the 4 Step Re-Creative Model is superimposed over the Masthead graphic. Through this lens, we can see 20 years of concept and intent having gone full cycle. At this 20 year scale and perspective, a different story emerges than can be told from the narrower viewpoint of a disconnected series of incremental experiences. In my mind, this illustrates why personal documentation is so important and how an appropriate modeling language can be employed to “see” what otherwise daily experience can so easily miss. Experience without models to frame it is as inadequate as models without experience to give reality to them.
Process cycles happen on many different time scales. The Taylor method focuses on rapid iterations of work and on “shipping a product” each one. To bring about large scale change and transformation also requires paying attention to very long cycles - many of them generational in length [rbtfBook]. It is as necessary to “ship a product” at the end of these longer iterations as it is upon completing the shorter ones. It is not short vrs long cycles - it is the integration of both into a NOW that can be see and responded to as a single system.
I made this Masthead from existing graphical pieces for a paper on the process of organizational transformation [link]. This paper is the result of my reaction to an experience that I had, earlier this year, wherein I believed a corporation was working hard on “transformation” but fundamentally approaching it in a wrong way. They had a flawed model of transformation and were working against themselves. It was a classic exercise of some very bright people working very hard, spending millions of dollars, and beating themselves up very badly in the process. They also lashed out at everyone they had asked to help them in their process. It was all very painful for everyone - and unnecessary. Worth it, perhaps, if transformation was to be the result. But, this cannot be. This work was nothing but a massive exercising of the old, entrenched corporate structure and process on a “head trip” about a future it wants, intellectually, but will not, yet, allow to happen. TRANSFORMATION is the consequence of a fundamentally different approach to the world and if it is not fun - hard work, yes, but fun - it will not happen.
In January, I posted the two graphic portions of the masthead right away because they expressed ideas that I knew I wanted to talk about. As I wrote the piece, however, I was re-mind-ed how much transformation is a personal experience and not something a corporation and some consultants can do to a group of people. Recovering from an extremely stressful and disapointing three weeks, I stared the Paper on the airplane to the 05 WEF event and slowly pecked away at it during the months afterward. As my frustration with my January experiences, with entrenched corporate structures, waned so did my interest in writing about it. During the June 05 ReBuilding the Future DesignShop sponsored by AoGG, TomorrowMakers and MGT, Gail and I talked about the role of the Transition Manager [link] and, of course, sought to put the process of organizational transformation into the context of time. It was with this expereince that I decided to put myself (with the two pictures, 20 years apart) into the Masthead.
Superimposing the 4 Step ReCreation Model onto the Masthead transforms the picture. This, however, requires an understanding not only of the Model, itself, but its history. The comments below provide a brief outline of both.

THE MODEL is divided into 8 steps. Four of these are states of activity each a manifestation of an idea. Each is a transformation of the idea as it is expressed in a media. In between each of these states is a death and rebirth process - the recreation necessary for the idea to be expressed in a new and fundamentally different form.

The FIRST STEP is to conceive of an idea/design in the multidimensional multimedia, high variety, timeless, space that is the mind. On the human level of recursion, rL4 [link], this is an individual act. The mind-media holds an enormous complexity, over extend time, and the idea/design can easily mutate within this space. This is incubation.
The SECOND STEP is to put the idea/design into some form outside of the self. This form-environment will have structure (and conventions) that will effect the design of the idea be it a web site, a book, a paper, a drawing, a speech, or a physical model. In all cases, this involves a radical reduction in variety and can only produce one expression of the idea.
The THIRD STEP takes the TEMPLATE created in the second step and actual manifests the idea/design in concrete form causing an enormous increase in variety from the “paper’ expression of the concept which is two dimensional and linear. This is why it has be be recreated just as the transition from Step One to Two required - the idea in in a new form.
The FOURTH STEP is to evaluate the experience of the first three steps and to provide feedback to the Idea/design - not to what was built as is commonly thought. What is the idea/design now? Once again there is a recreation as you move from a user of your creation back to being the author of its next cycle of development.
I created this Model out of a personal frustration and a question. The frustration was how to “pass on” a vision to others so that it is not destroyed yet in a way that they can invest their own genius and creativity to it. This is a fundamental question of GroupGenius and the creation of large-scale, complex works of great integrity and art. This Model allows for multiple expressions of the idea as it moves through the Stages and as it is recreated in different media. Different people with different skill sets and ideas, make up and employ that new media. The question was how was it that so many people had difficulty in “moving” a concept through the creative process as it developed from an abstraction through various concrete expressions of the Design Formation [link] Model. I do not have difficulty with this task. What was it that I do differently than others and how do I think about and conduct this process?
By the time I developed this Model, the Creative Process [link], Design Formation and Vantage Points [link] Models were long established and well embedded into our work process. These three Models make up the SolutionBox Model which you see at the bottom of every one of my articles on this web site. This model provides a 7 x 7 x 7 matrix of the steps an idea moves through from concept to use. Each of these way-points can have an agreed upon language and standards of credibility (to a community of practice) - this make individual and group navigation possible. The 4 Step [link] model is not another restatement of the other three. It is aimed at getting at what happens - or not - at the transition points in the creative process be that when thinking moves from one stage to another, when the work product takes on a new form, or when the work itself is introduced to a new community of co-designers. It is at these transitions that there seems to be the greatest propensity for confusion and when the environment, in which the work is done, is most likely to be compromised causing unnecessary delays and degradation of result.
This model deals with two aspects of complex, distributed, time stretched creative projects. First, the process of getting an IDEA translated into documented, and ultimately, built form. If you realize that the idea has to be completely recreated each transformation it takes and that this is because of the variety equation [link] and the media in which the idea is rendered, then, the real task is revealed. If you have an idea of a house in your head, for example, and try to draw what is in your head - you will fail. If you understand that you have to render it in a new, constrained, lower variety, media, then you can succeed. The same is true moving from the template of a drawing to building. If you just build what is on paper, the result will fall short of its full potential. The media and complexity of a built thing (involving many contributors and a higher variety) is always far greater than what a piece of paper (no matter how well done) can hold. Second, the process of engaging others in a VISION which they can make their own by working in it and bringing their special genius to it, thus, helping to both recreate it and manifest it. It is at the Recreation Points that allow this to be done without doing violence to the work that came before. The act of re-creation not only is a good time to bring new members to the effort it is absolutely necessary for success. The act of recreation is the creative act and the entire creative process has to be completed at each of these transition points.
Writing this Article has been part of my personal “debriefing” process of the ReBuilding the Future DesignShop event [link] and was started concurrently with writing the final Scenarios to the Bad Ragaz Private Wealth Council Workshop [link]. As I prepared for and, with Gail, facilitated the Bad Ragaz Workshop, I worked in this Notebook to pull together many aspects related to the last 6 months, specifically, and the last 20 years, generally. This introspection has remained a continuing process from my working retreat in February of this year (and the immediate time leading up to it) which was documented in my Notebook #7, post 9/11 series [link] - most of my retreat comments are on the left hand pages from p. 529 to the Postscript of this hand written Notebook [link].
The transformation of organizations and societies is personal. The Transition Manager [link], has to bridge both the new and old worlds; s/he has to be competent in both and independent of both. In terms of the organization or community s/he is facilitating, s/he has to be in this world but not of it. Not only is s/he a fiduciary and must avoid entanglement and improper gain, s/he has to be aware that, at critical moments, the old world in transition may attack agents and agencies [link] of change - this includes the Transition Manager. This risk is an unavoidable aspect of the role and of the work - it has to be accepted. The Transition Manager’s response to the attack is critical, in the transformational process; the response has to be neutral and objective. If the Transition Manager is pulled into the game, all can be lost. Transition management is meta-facilitation on extended organizational and time scales.
Over the 20 year “story” depicted by this Model, I started out an advocate of change (1), built a Method to facilitate change (2), became, sometimes reluctantly, a Transition Manager (3), and now I am evaluating these experiences in light of the still-in-place social structure. We have to have Transition Managers. How do we facilitate their work?
To get more depth on the 4 Step Model, and how it brings insight to the 20 year cycle, a study of the glyphs is useful. Check out the definition of these glyphs on the MG Taylor web site [link] and then read the additional notes below and click on the glyphs for links that add context to the story.
At the time my picture was taken explaining about a network of NavCenters, the idea was already over fives years old - a map (template) had been drawn.
The WORK has reached a threshold that will require a far greater community and ValueWeb than has existed before; we are at the step-function.
The work of MG Taylor is truly global now in terms of where it is done, the diversity of people it reaches and the web publishing of the results.
You cannot fix the past. Even if you “go back” to “fix” something it is a new act. What does the VISION of a global network of NavCenters mean in 2005?
iteration6 will be the greatest change MG Taylor has ever experienced - the transition from an organization to a true, functioning ValueWeb.
There is no question that many of us, associated with MG Taylor, have paid a high price to bring this new way of working into the world. Yet, we have stayed true to our mission [link] no matter the circumstances. I have always been an idealist and see no reason to change now [link] even if the score is sometimes discouraging - the game is not over; the game is never over as long as there remains life.
A global transformation is an unbelievable big undertaking. It cannot be understood or controlled. The conditions necessary to better facilitate it are possible to understand and create. That is what this work is about. It can only be done in a series of concrete steps [link] that are done in a global and long term context - you cannot change the world by directly trying to do so. You can add to the storehouse of options [Fuller]. And, you can be an exemplar, of better choices [Gaundi]. You can engineer and build better solutions [mcdounugh]. It is possible to do this and lead a balanced life [link].
The practice of the Transition Manager is to create these conditions and facilitate a local community in their part of a Global outcome. It is as simple as that.
It should be understood that not everyone should attempt this role; and, that there are many other roles that are equally important - the “conservative” who holds the integrity of the old ground and the “advocate” who agitates from the new, make two examples. If the TM role is to be performed, however, there are certain rules necessary to the role and certain expectations that have to kept in mind and practiced with total integrity else the work fails. These are outlined in the Transition Manager’s CREED: keep a balance between the two worlds with a competent foot firmly placed in both; while holding Enlightenment Principles, do not bias the outcome in the specific; do not take unfair advantage of the situation (fiduciary stance). Facilitate, as well as design.
When any of us are employing the Taylor Method for a client, or as a facilitator/KnowledgeWorker for our own organization, we are acting as a Transition Manager. We may have other roles outside of this specific task. Some, may choose to function as a Transition Manager in all the work that they do be they employing the Taylor Method explicitly or not, working with a client or not. I believe, that just as the Knowledge Worker [Drucker] is becoming seen as a legitimate role, so will the Transition Manager as the moment of large scale and disruptive social transformation gathers momentum. It will be necessary to codify this role and to train for it as it will for the Fair Witness [Heinlein] and Speakers for Gaia [link]. These issues operational will be taken up elsewhere.
Even into the early 60s, there remained the notion of the “public person” who took on the role of public stewardship. Servant Leasership, by Greenleaf [rbtfBook], explores many aspects of this role. I am sure that there remains such people but they are drowned now in controversy, spin, litigation and partisan politics. It should be remembered that such an environment is actually an advantage to those who command great resources and seek illegitimate power. Always “follow the money” and ask “who gains” in what looks like a ridiculous, random situation. There were times when churches, universities and governments severed the creation of the public commons - no longer with rare exception. We, as a society, have to decide what kind of social space we want to live in - perhaps, if present trends continue, can live in. To do this we will have to embrace better rules in regards how criticism is conducted [link]. And, we will have to create new socially accepted and properly credentialed roles such as the Knowledge Worker, Transition Manager, Fair Witness and Speakers for Gaia. Failing to do this, we find ourselves in a social quagmire impossible to navigate, devoid of the practice of philosophy [link] and left to those who, driven by only un self-examined ambition to exploit everything in sight [link] and turn every thing and everybody into a commodity.
The Transition Manager plays a key role in the creation of this space. The Taylor Method starts with the creation of a neutral space [link] which contains a level playing field for those who will risk the exposure necessary for the emergence of GroupGenius [link]. This SPACE is composed of spiritual, energetic, philosophical, informational physical, technical and process elements designed to facilitate the emergence [link] of the best that people have to offer themselves and the world.
Those who take on Transition Management will give up many amenities that our society bestows on talent applied to popular project within “proper” channels; s/he will risk retaliation and sometimes serious attack. This role requires years of intense preparation and continual self-evaluation [link]. This commitment does have rewards. The work is honest, the results often gratifying and sometimes it pays very well.
It is not for everyone. If it is for you, and we can make common cause, contact [link] me.
If you are interested in the application of philosophy to the real world, I recommend that you check out the American Philosophical Practitioners Association [link]. Here is a group who is working across the grain of the current love-in with nihilism and the assault by the deconstructionists. Philosophy is important - as we find out (sometimes to our regret) a generation later. I mention them here becuase they do 3-Day Certification Training Program for Philosophical Counselors. This is very much in the spirit of the roles I outlined above.
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Matt Taylor
June 20, 2005


SolutionBox voice of this document:



posted: June 20, 2005

revised: June 29, 2005
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(note: this document is about 95% finished)

Copyright© Matt Taylor 1985, 1987, 2005

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