Watershed Partners: Patchworks Program Optimizing human performance for biosphere integrity

The purpose of this page is to provide an overview of: Why we do what we do; How we do it; and Why we're exploring working with you.

The rate of change is exponentially increasing

We experience a level of change in months that our ancestors experienced in years and decades. The human created impacts on our biosphere are increasingly profound as The Great Acceleration continues. Humans, organizations and systems are struggling to keep up.

The world is increasingly complex

We often strive for simplicity. However, we live in an increasingly complex world. Three types of complexity proliferate: 1) Social complexity - where stakeholders lack a shared vision of the future or even a common understanding of the problems we face; 2) Dynamic complexity - where the causes of the effects we are experiencing are difficult to find because there’s not a binary or linear relationship between them; 3) Generative complexity - where the rules of the past are no longer helpful in predicting for or dealing with the future.

Mechanistic bureaucracies of a bygone era prevail

Due to the exponential rate of change, organizational structures, hierarchies and ways of working that were designed for an industrial era have been transferred into today’s Knowledge Working economy. The world is moving too fast to conceive of a different modus operandi; so we have one of a bygone era. Today, companies aren't living as long as they used to: they can't keep up.

Avergae lifespan on S&P 500 index fallen from 60 yrs in 1960 to ~18 yrs today
"We can no longer rely on hierarchies. The problem is not that they have suddenly become illegitimate, but that they are slow and the world has become fast. It is no longer enough to merely plan and direct action, today we inspire and empower movements of belief."

Collaborative Design offers an answer to the rate of change and complexity

In complex environments, uni-lateral or bi-lateral decisions typically need to be imposed by force; either explicitly or implicitly. An alternative is collaboration and co-design where people are empowered to work together to achieve shared outcomes. But collaboration needs to be carefully designed and delivered to achieve results. Otherwise it can be a costly exercise that delivers little value.

Watershed are world class at Collaborative Design events

We work with organizations around the world to help them achieve profound results through harnessing the power of Collaborative design. We’ve run hundreds of events with tens of thousands of people in every major geography to help navigate through complexity and achieve shared outcomes.

We bring groups of between 25 to 200 people together for one to three days to create a collective understanding of the problems they face and to co-create solutions to them.

During these events we harness the power of collaboration to: make better decisions; accelerate the time it takes to do the work and; enable people to organize themselves around the work that needs to be done after the event - based on their passion and purpose.

We know Collaborative Design events alone are not enough

We have three key issues with our Co-Design events that we are solving through technology:

1. How to extend the intention that people leave our events with after they have finished? How to bridge the intention : outcome abyss to ensure that the work people commit to gets done?

2. How to scale the transformation across a wider group of people?

3. How to measure the transformation?

So, we created a Patchworks Program and technology

By the end of our Co-Design events, participants have defined and identified the work that needs to be done to solve their problems and have organized themselves into teams called Patches.

Each Patch has a purpose and the people within Patches are called Nodes.

The overall framework creates an architecture for the change that our facilitation process has enabled participants to design. Nodes in their Patches are working on components of the solution and they are enabled through our app, Recoder. They are connected to Nodes in other Patches to ensure an integrated solution is created and silo's aren't created.

The pattern of working on the app is set when participants are together in the room. When people leave events is where the really hard work starts, as the transformation typically needs to be delivered alongside BAU activities.

Many big transformation programs fail, despite active participation in designing the change. Patchworks aims to overcome five of the key challenges we’ve seen with our clients:

1. How to deliver the transformation alongside BAU activity? The Patchworks process only requires an aggregate of 1.5 hours of additional activity a week

2. How to ensure a holistic and integrated solution gets created and embedded? Our Patchworks algorithm creates Noding Patterns which ensures people in different Patches are connected to one another. The process that the app enables ensures all the teams are connected for the duration of the project.

3. How to ensure the work gets done, not through top down hierarchical management, but through people holding each other to account? The transparency of activity creates an environment where behaviours change and because the work is driven by passion and purpose, the desire to get the work done is a profound enabler. On a very practical level, the push notifications from the app ensure the connections are made and information is shared.

4. How to embed new ways of working together to achieve shared outcomes? New patterns of working across organizational silos are embedded as the Patches are typically multi-disciplinary teams formed of people from different business units.

5. How to know if the Patches are performing and if they need support? How to understand if the work that the Patches are doing is still relevant and if the system needs to re-organize itself into a different orientation? Our Culture Transformation specialists monitor the activity of the patches with a joint sponsor team and interventions are co-designed and delivered to remove barriers and facilitate the reorganization of activities.

Patchworks creates a way of thinking and working differently for our clients

Because we can’t solve the problems that we created with the thinking we used to create them.

Why we want to talk to the Watson team: Measuring the cultural transformation

We will have a rich data set from our Patchworks process and app. We understand how this enables us to extend the intention of our Co-Design events and to scale a transformation. We don’t yet know how to measure the transformation. The measurement of cultural transformation is our holy grail and we suspect the Watson team might be able to help.

We will generate a set of data outputs from Patchworks that we would like to explore with you:

  • Personal values; Perceived organizational values; Desired future state values
  • Frequency of communication between individuals (assigned nodes); Frequencies of meetings over time; Evaluated relevance of information
  • Personal productivity (how much work people are assigned) over time
  • Engagement between departments
  • Health of communication across groups of people
  • Content reactions
  • Semantics used in communications between individuals
Our aim is to enable biosphere integrity. The world is changing faster than ever. Humans need to a way to organize their work to keep up. We believe Patchworks offers part of the answer.

We're excited to explore this further with you.

Created By
Charlie Ursell
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