All posts by Malwina Ulrych

About Malwina Ulrych

Malwina Ulrych is the newest partner at Structure & Process and is currently stepping into Marketing & Communication, while also pursuing a graduate degree in psychology. Contact her at malwina@structureprocess.com.

Open Partner Meeting: What’s Your Practice?

The Structure & Process Partner Meeting is one of our favourite formats for joyful, meaningful collaboration.

The main ingredients have remained mostly the same for the past few years: an agile agenda, a dedicated meeting facilitator, clarity on work modes, space and time for personal exchange, the pile of success, good food… – you can find details about all these elements here.

More recently, we have been increasingly inviting external guests, which lead to Open Partner Meetings: In these, we collaborate with clients, colleagues, applicants, friends and other interested (and interesting!) people.

During the last Open Partner Meeting (Feb 27 – March 2) in Dresden, another element emerged in the form of a question:

What is our practice?

practice /ˈpraktɪs/ noun

  1. The actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method, as opposed to theories relating to it.
  2. The customary, habitual, or expected procedure or way of doing of something.
  3. Repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it. (Source)

We noticed that the practices at Structure & Process can basically be summarised in three categories: personal organization/productivity, community building and governance.

Scribbles & notes about our practices

Our personal productivity practices enable us to do good work in the first place: host yourself first, to make yourself available for collaboration.

Then we come together and form a community: We build personal relationships and discover our shared interests as the basis for co-creation. We refine our purpose as an organisation, grounded in community.

And then, to function smoothly as collaborators, we build governance systems/practices that allow us to orchestrate and focus our efforts.

Here is how some of our practices showed up at the last Open Partner Meeting:

Personal Organisation

  • “What do I need?” – Our favourite starting point for solving problems and getting stuff done. Turns out that asking this question is a practice in and of itself. The answers become part of the agenda.
    We ask “What do I need?” (or, when facilitated: “what do you need?”), not: “what do we need? What should we do?” We make our work personal.

  • Capture, process, do – whenever a meeting or session leads to actionable items, the habit is to capture those items, process them to a place that makes sense (personal todo list, shared Trello board) and then do it when the time is right. Things don’t get lost, and action happens at the right place and time.
    Knowing that you and your partners run on some version of this system builds trust and allows being present in the moment.
Capturing the outline of Open Partner Meeting

Community Building

Check-in Circle
  • Circles – every morning we check in together as one coherent group of individuals. At the end of the day we check out again, sharing whatever moves us at that particular time.
  • We prioritize relationships and quality of life – during Partner Meetings there’s plenty of time for food, music and good conversation :-)

Governance:

  • Whenever we go into planning mode (“what is the next thing to do now?”) there is no consensus building on the agenda point that everyone wants to do, but rather taking the initiative to host a session and then seeing who shows up (open-space-style).

  • We are very clear on our individual roles and accountabilities, which makes task assignment easy, efficient and relaxed.
  • One of our Holacratic Governance Meetings took place during this week. Guests could watch and ask questions about the process afterwards.

Practice with us!

The next Open Partner Meeting will happen on October 24-26 2017, again in Dresden. Our guests typically get more clarity on their questions related to organisational development, collaboration, personal path in business/life and generally have a good time… They explore their own projects, or collaborating with Structure & Process. Some have found jobs and love! ;-)

You are most welcome! (Sign up to our newsletter to receive an invite in time!)

Now we’d like to hear from you…

  • What is the practice that informs your work?
  • What do you find yourself doing again and again?
  • How do you apply the ideas and theories that guide your work in practice?

Let us know in the comments!

Musings on Holacracy

Some weeks ago Martina Röll, the founder of Structure & Process, was interviewed by Karolina Iwa, in the context of Leadership Festival which will take place this summer in Poland. There is a recording of an online session that followed this interview available on Facebook.

Martina was asked how she experiences working in an organisation that runs on Holacracy and what makes it stand out from more traditional ways of working. Here are some of her thoughts.

You can do anything you wish. You have a general permission – a completely anarchistic general permission. You can simply act.

Everybody takes on tasks they want to deliver and declares the time of delivery. You cannot assign tasks to anybody. And you cannot tell them how or when to deliver, either. You simply manage your own work. And if it happens that others do not deliver it the time they declared and you cannot wait for them – there is the underlying agreement to move on and do what you believe to be right. All the waiting and delegating falls away. This is extremely liberating. The mental drama of “but we are not ready yet” and “but we still need this and that” becomes obsolete. You just go. And if people do not deliver or no longer fulfil their tasks, they need to make sure they still keep their jobs. In Holacracy, jobs are not described by positions, but by the responsibilities and roles you take on.

It is called “Do and let do”.

When you allow this to be the rule for money too, you show people you really mean it. In Structure & Process anybody can spend up to 300€ for whatever they decide is important, without previously consulting with others. The only rule: it needs to help the organisation fulfil the organisational purpose.

Holacracy gives you a very strong mirror.

When you complain about others being a certain way and not different, at some point you just can no longer make it about them. You realize that it is actually about you. And all change will have to result from within you. This confronts you very strongly with questions like: If I am allowed to do anything, what is it that I truly want to do? What is it that I truly need?

Holacracy brings you back to yourself in yet another way: it offers no space for expecting that others will guess what you need, or what you want. This is quite hard for some. It is not how we are socialised, mostly. So yes, it requires some practice – but this training in self-directedness pays back with a genuine feeling of more freedom and being less burdened.

The self-organisation system is also great for high performers.

Those are people who otherwise often struggle in teams and tend to feel torn between waiting for the others and not living their full potential vs. going their natural pace and feeling like they are a handful. A holacratic working environment allows them to go full throttle.

Have a peek into our own structures and processes:

To support the implementation, maintenance and development of the system there are some software solutions available. Structure & Process uses Glassfrog. You can have a peek at how an up-and-running organisation that operates on Holacracy looks like, see our structures, purpose, tasks and roles here.

Want more? Check out our list of upcoming Holacracy Events in Europe

Overview of roles at Structure & Process as of February 2017

Impressions from our first Open Partner Meeting

openpartnermeeting

Structure & Process’ “Partner Meetings” are bimonthly get-togethers of the team of Structure & Process. From being “internal meetings” originally, they have evolved to include clients, prospects and business partners.

In November 2016, we took the next step and opened up our structure even further, showing what was “internal” to clients, and what was “client-only” to business partners and our wider network. We also invited our community to contribute to and become part of the meeting.

It turned out to be a wonderful format for doing joyful, inspired and effective work – so much so that we’re doing it again this February! View all the details here (in German).

Every Partner Meeting is different, but the rest of this post is meant to give you an idea of what it can look like…

DAY 1

Monday morning.

The place:

galerie

Welcome:

20161107_121358

People start to work: Conversation between Rob and Martina about the future of Partner Meetings, their sustainability, probable profitability and their integration into the structure.

popleworking1

Kind of a tradition at Partner Meetings: Lunch at an Asian place.

20161107_140909

More people show up, the team is almost complete – setting up the space.

DAY 2

After arriving, settling in and putting up the space, the Open Partner Meeting starts with a check-in round:

2_morningcheckin

2_checkinround

Agenda Building:

2_agenda_building_martina-kopie

2_agenda_building

Martina calls for a session about Organisational Purpose Shift:

2_purposeshift
Capture by Lara

The next session for most people is about Partner Community and Applicant Processes  –exploring whether a membership system is an option to develop.

anikasnotiz_partnercommunity
Capture by Anika

Very closely related is the development of Partner Meetings as a (core) product of Structure & Process:

2_partner_meetings

The first guests arrive: Luca and Julia from Reinblau join our Meeting. They are clients in a consulting project from Martina, Lara and Rainer.

After lunch for some participants and a nice walk along the Elbe for the others – the meeting resumes with a Governance Meeting of the GCC. This is a good observing and learning opportunity for some of our guests. Lara explains procedures and gives background information. The minutes of that meeting can be found right here in our Glassfrog.

2_laraexplains2_governancemeeting_gcc

 

 

 

 

 

More guests have arrived: Tobias already joined our last Partner Meeting. He was a coaching client of Martina’s for a while and is interested in our work. Nora is a consultant and knows Rainer and Martina. She came all the way from Bratislava to join.

Rainer and Nora catching up:

2_rainernora

Lara prepares the check-out round for the day:

2_laracheckout

DAY 3

New guests have arrived: We welcome Anja and Gregor. The third day starts with planning mode again. Most of the people decide on an introduction to Teal from Nora.

3_norateal

The next session is hosted by Rainer who has a business idea he wants to develop. His basic assumption is that there is not enough consulting competence in clients’ companies. They are consulted by us, but they need to consult with their clients as well. This  is enforced when transformation processes within the company affect their clients, too.

3_rainer_consultingcompetence

In a second session in the afternoon interested people start to get into operational details for a consulting workshop offer that would increase consulting competences with clients.

3_rainer_consultingcompetence2

Later, Rainer offers a session in Action Learning:

Day 3 closes with a check-out round and some reflections of the core Structure & Process team.

Day 4

On day 4 more Holacracy meetings take place, where some of the learnings from this Partner Meeting are already being captured into the organisation’s governance records:

Lara gives a mini-workshop on her specialty: drawing and graphic facilitation.

After 4 full days our co-created graphic overview shows the richness of the meeting and what came out of it.

Partner Meetings are one of the core activities of Structure & Process and they embody our way of working. Please join one of the next ones to experience it for yourself!

Shoutout to Annette Mehlhoop who created the first version of this post!