What an invigorating and thought-provoking session by Hannah Elise Jones who is an OD practitioner at Uber.
She explained the concept of Adult Vertical Development which in psychology is a versatile tool to explain the advancement in a person’s thinking capability leading to the ability to think in more systemic, complex and strategic ways. She outlined the three conditions that help in aiding vertical development which include Heat Experiences (complex situations that disrupt and disorient habitual ways of thinking), Colliding Perspectives (being exposed to people with different worldviews, opinions and backgrounds) and Elevated Sensemaking (integrate and make sense of these perspectives and experiences from more elevated stages of development). She also explained how through her research, she categorized the approaches to leadership development prevalent in organizations and the cultural conditions supporting the process.
She then explained an interesting parallel with the concept of vertical development as applied to the practice of OD and how it attempts to solve the paradoxical situation of whether the leaders shape the organization or the organization shapes the leaders. A pertinent question that she has sought to answer from her research is: How can we shape the practice of OD which is both individually and organizationally developmental? How can we design approaches which have multilevel impact and which could lead to more sustainable solutions? She shared how this concept of vertical development has been used by her team to create synergies and how other OD practices could utilize this very useful concept to create sustainable experiences.
Thank you, Hannah, for taking us on a path of research-based Organization Development and challenging us with some thought-provoking ideas!