“Learning To Dance In The Academic Dynamics.” - Lara Carminati

Lara is co-responsible within the small academic team formerly known as CMOB (Change Management & Organisational Behaviour) presently active under the name OBCC (Organisational Behavior, Change Management & Consultancy) and on the edge of assimilating with the colleagues from the HRM track, possibly resulting in a joint academic proposition under the flag WOP: Work, Organization & People. This can happily be regarded as a connective generative process with heart for the reality of contemporary organisations.

To be connected is to be related
As her interviewer, I appreciate Lara for creating the time and space. We go along for quite some time. I actually feel a bit of a CMOB-OBCC family member, happy and honoured to provide a few classes on generative, inclusive change leadership for UTwente honours master students, who I always ask to complete the Connective Leadership Mirror. The CLM instrument and its corresponding dataset is also offered now to the students as a possible topic for their masters research. If that happens, you will be updated in future blogs.

The relativity of ‘ideal’
After completing a new Connective Leadership profile, especially for this interview, Lara’s first inner response was twofold: “Hmmm, I am not very close to the grey line [of the alleged ideal connective leader] in the graph.” and: “Wow, more red than I expected.” By this, she gave a nice starting point for a reflection on the relativity of the ideal leader, since such has to be regarded within the context of the surrounding organisation. Let’s imagine the ideal connective leader, according to the perhaps somewhat idealistic grey line, in the context of a banking institute or a university. Given the known still quite bureaucratic or hierarchical nature of these organisations, the gap with the ideal connective leader may be simply too big for the leader to make a change or even to survive. Perhaps Lara’s profile shows characteristics of a leader that can connect with her surroundings, and can make a change. Although I always ask to complete the CLM questionnaire as truly as possible, we still may wonder to what extent the given organisational context may influence one’s answers. Food for master research I would say!

I-values and We-values
After we reflected on the level of We versus I orientation, we can only conclude that Lara’s profile is dominant in the We value systems, which is promising for bringing change and development in today’s mostly fragmented organisations and an atmosphere of individuality. And if we add the fact that Lara’s high score value is Turquoise, the all-connective, holistic, oneness value system, we can expect Lara’s students, our future leaders, to be fueled with nutritious, healthy food.

Yes, we have a critical student!
Asked for student experiences with the Connective Leadership Mirror, Lara recalls the following. Among the diversity of honours topics, it was a student in an engineering or technical domain, who openly and sceptically stated: “This doesn’t tell me so much. This profile can change.” Besides being right in his observation, this could have been an opportunity to reflect on his actual behaviour. Like: speaking up so courageously in class, would that support the amount of Red in your profile? Or: showing your objective, factual - good academic - stance in this, could that be a reflection of your Blue value system? At this point in my imaginary reflection, Lara added: Or might it be that we co-create a high level of trust and safety in our classes, for which he felt free to speak as he did? And again, this gives us to think about Green classroom circumstances, perhaps enabled by collective Blue agreements, from a teacher with a “we are one” Turquoise intentionality.

The possible paradox of practising what you teach
It would be too easy to suggest that what is taught in OB class can only be taught if it comes from a coherent organisation. Yes, Lara and her team often experience Red and Blue behaviour in the hierarchical higher levels of their university. It may be so. At the same time, the OBCC team really can be seen as self-organising, autonomous, emergent, connective. From that perspective, they actually do teach and practice in a highly coherent way. And apparently it is possible that a Red-Blue governance enables - or at least allows - the existence of an Orange-Green team of teachers and researchers. What about moving towards the Yellow-Turquoise way, also known as Teal? Who will do the first step? Lara’s most prominent value system knows the way.

Cees Hoogendijk
May 20, 2024
Reading time 4 minutes
“Learning To Dance In The Academic Dynamics.” - Lara Carminati