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Building a future-proof organisation

Kate Swade

Our director Kate is just back from maternity leave, and has been pondering how Shared Assets might develop as an organisation.

I had a baby! Or, as I prefer to call her, an organisational development prompt.  I’ve just come back to work after 7 months of surprisingly lovely maternity leave, and have relished the opportunity to take some proper time away from work.

I’ve had space to think about the some of the questions that Shared Assets is facing as we move away from being a start up – questions that it’s too easy to not concentrate on when in the thick of delivering for clients and on projects. What does an organisation with some big system change ambitions need to look like on the inside? Mark and I as directors have obviously been central to getting Shared Assets to this point: how do we really harness the collective energy and talents of everyone in the organisation to make it sustainable? And, personally, how do I combine work that I love and feel passionate about with raising a family well?

What does an organisation with some big system change ambitions need to look like on the inside?

We brought three new people on board over the late summer and early autumn, – Hannah, Megan and Julian – so me taking some time off also coincided with some other big changes. We ran some strategy days in the new year which brought the whole team together to start chewing over some of these questions (and had the added bonus of introducing my baby to the joys of flip chart paper and post it notes).

We’ve been inspired by lots of the thinking around Teal organisations, and have been exploring what being a self managing organisation would mean for Shared Assets. I finally got around to reading Reinventing Organisations by Frederic Laloux (and explored that further on my blog here and here). I’ve become a fan of the Corporate Rebels site which also has some great stories of people on the journey to self management.

teal baby

We’ve been looking really closely at our purpose and our values as well as the unspoken principles that we put into action when making day to day decisions, and we’re working on making sure we are all very firmly on the same page. We’re moving away from specific job descriptions and towards clear definitions of roles. Our work on the Unlocking Networks project has got us thinking about what might change if we conceived of Shared Assets as a network rather than an organisation.

We’re also working on how we take our own medicine a bit more – we are good at facilitating other people but too often forget to use our skills on ourselves. We specialise in creating new governance models but have in the past struggled to find the resources to properly distribute power and responsibility through the organisation. We are becoming a more dispersed and part-time team, and have become far more disciplined about processes, knowledge sharing and ways of working than we were before, but still have a way to go.

I’ll be blogging about how we get on with all of this.  We’d love to find some fellow travellers on this journey – some peers to work with, as we explore new ways of sharing power, responsibility and authority, while still delivering high quality work on time!

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