Recently I had a chance to speak at the third edition of ACE Conference. It was great, so remember to come next year by the way. Anyway, one of keynote speakers at ACE was Bob Marshall – the guy you may, and should, know from his work on rightshifting as well as many other things, acting as an extraordinarily knowledgeable and vocal guy on Twitter being one of my favorites.
In his session Bob described what rightshifting is in context of organizations, which is basically the initial appliance of the concept. Personally I liked the session very much. However, after the event I had a chance to speak to a couple of folks who weren’t really happy with what Bob shared.
When we started discussing why it was so it became pretty clear for me that some people took the rightshifting idea, tried to apply it “by the book” to their organizations and saw little to no visibility in terms of orgs’ effectiveness, let alone any chance to control how the orgs would change. From such perspective rightshifting indeed can look as a shallow and simplified model.
Now, let me explain how I approached the Bob’s idea when I first learned about it. I saw a model, a general one, which seemed pretty intuitive. I was fortunate to have enough control over organizations I work for to be able both to assess roughly how they were doing and got some ideas how to rightshift them. That was however only the first step, and a small one, in terms of getting my buy in.
What I found most valuable in rightshifting was that it is sort of symmetric model that could be applied to personal development context as well as organizational one. I mean a professional can rightshift themselves as well as they can expect that from their company. The curve would be very similar or exactly the same and likely the transition zones would look alike. What more, understanding where the individual is and where the company is on the curve can say much about potential dissatisfaction of people (and people-related risk for the company).
I’m not sure whether all of that was Bob’s intention when he was formulating the idea, so it is sort of possible that I’m reinventing the wheel here. Anyway, what I want to point here is not (only) how I interpret rightshifting but what is my general approach to idea adoption. I avoid implementing stuff by the book, whichever book it is. Instead I try to understand what is standing behind them and adjust them to my context.
It means that I may misuse one idea, but on the other hand it means that I can enhance another. And of course it means I learn a lot. Also I’m not that quick to call something shallow or oversimplified – I prefer to think that as long as I dig around the thing long enough I will find a gem there (assuming the gem isn’t visible at first sight).
After all this is how we add something from ourselves. We take the work of others – people, who we respect – and apply their ideas in our context. On occasions result of such work will pull the concept a few steps forward.