16 Patterns to Build Adaptive Learning Organizations

A few years ago, I was struck by the concept of emergence and it's relation to design (or at least the ambition of designers). I spent quite a good deal of time learning about it a finding bridges to apply its ideas to my own practice. During that time, I tried to register emergentbydesign.com. Of course, like always, there was already a blog by that name. Damn it. Someone beat me. But I'm happy to say, I'm glad they did—or specifically she did. Vanessa has done a far superior job creating content for such a site than I would have. Her perspective and topics are worth your time.

One post that deserves specific attention is How to Design Culture: 16 Patterns to Build Adaptive Learning Organizations. What I love about the points she lists is that they parallel many of the things I've been experimenting with in my own work. So it was awesome to have that sense of confirmation. Bit I also like them because they give me a lot of new ideas. All are critical, actionable, and must remembers. I like them so much, I want to re-list them here.

1. Be Purposeful 
“It is easy to maintain your focus when you have a clear purpose.”

2. Facilitate Your Meetings 
“Facilitated meetings tend to have a clear goal, a clear set of rules, and a clear way to track progress. They provide space for the convener to observe and reflect.”

3. Examine Your Norms 
“Normal is what you willingly tolerate. Examine your norms, because what you tolerate is a minimal level of what you insist on. Insist on norms that encourage tribal greatness.”

4. Be Punctual 
“Punctuality associates with focus, commitment and respect; these in turn associate with individual and group greatness.”

5. Structure Your Interactions 
“Use protocols to clarify essential interactions. Employ structured speech as a tool to clarify the meaning of what you say.”

6. Announce Your Intent 
“Be easy to follow by announcing what you intend to do. Announcing your intent is making a request for help. State what you are doing with purpose.”

7. Game Your Meetings 
“Meetings suck when attendance is not optional, when the goal and rules are fuzzy, and when there is no way to track progress.”

8. Conduct Frequent Experiments 
“Frequent experimentation means frequent learning.”

9. Manage Visually 
“Radiate information and use visual artifacts to define physical space that in turn will influence thoughts and perception.”

10. Inspect Frequently 
“Change is the new normal. Extensive change means high complexity. Use iteration and frequent inspection to make a game of change.”

11. Get Coached 
“Coaching helps the learning process and is a best practice. A coach will see what you do not and cannot.”

12. Manage Your Boundaries 
“Be mindful of boundaries for authority, role, and tasks. Loosen boundaries for inquiry and dialogue, tighten boundaries when deciding and executing. Manage boundaries to create the kind of space your tribe needs to accomplish every kind of work.”

13. Socialize Books 
“Books contain ideas and concepts that you can leverage in pursuit of tribal greatness. Select the right books to reiterate the beliefs, values, and principles you want.”

14. Pay Explicit Attention 
 “Pay attention to what is working and what is not. Zoom in on details and focus on interactions and results.”

15. Open the Space 
“Open Space meetings are fantastic for managing the integration of transitions, evolution and learning in groups. These meetings generate opportunities for expression, inquiry, dialogue, and learning.”

16. Be Playful 
“Play games to get work done. Use games for simulation, work, and learning.”

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