Leadership Models With Dave Snowden

Leadership podcast imageAvoiding Pseudo-Science, Cultism & Eugenics

Hosts Andy Cleff, Ben Au-Yeung, Serge Marten, and Jay Hrcsko chat with Dave Snowden about leadership, Spiral Dynamics, Integral Theory, and Metamodernism.

We explore thru a Boxian lens “All models are wrong, but some are useful.”

Are these effective tools for organizations to gain new perspectives on themselves?

Are there other potentially better ways to journey in complex adaptive systems?

Snippets of Our Conversation

  • There have been cottage industries made out of three leadership-related models [Spiral Dynamics, Integral Theory, and Metamodernism], especially in the Agile coaching space, right? What’s old is new again, somebody discovered something. And then they wanted to apply it to everything, make it universal, and run off into the woods. And you had a post out there where you said, “Well, this is just kind of balderdash.”
  • There’s a lack of due diligence in checking material before it’s used. And an assumption of expertise. So I think it’s partly because the way people code the fact that you’ve read something doesn’t mean you understand it.
  • The second problem is a wider problem. It’s not just the Agile industry, which is this whole desire for maturity models, whether at the company level or individual level. A sort of elitism: I am at a higher level, therefore, I can’t be expected to discuss it with you until you reach my age of enlightenment. That’s not good stuff.
  • Any leadership model which allows you to take different perspectives has utility and conversation. The problem is when you ascribe accuracy to it.
  • It’s an attempt to create power for the people who understand the model, and therefore in a privileged point of enlightenment to actually help others through the progress. So it’s a form of epistemic injustice, it’s a power imbalance.



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  1. Andrew

    Someone needs to have a quiet word with Dave and explain “Clean Language”. It’s not “none of your f*ckin’ swearin'”. It is using only a client’s own words when asking coaching or similar questions to shift the client’s viewpoint around until they see a new adjacent possible (huh! waddya know!). The point being to avoid introducing your own stuff to influence them. That sounds consistent with the intention of facilitator-less techniques.

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