Out of the box approach to behavioural impacts

//Out of the box approach to behavioural impacts

The limitation of many psychometrics is the way they are used by some. Used well, they can provide insights into the preferences a person has “generally”, though this cannot be applied to all situations. However, they often are usedZooCollageLeaders to stereotypically categorise the person, with the implication that this may inform them what roles they may be best suited to. That is, applied in ways that puts the person in a box. This is dangerous given often this largely based on simplistic questions that are actually quite subjective and context sensitive. Worse still is if this thinking leads to making complex judgements based on who the person is and what they are capable of (of which the limitations are clear).

The Organizational Zoo does the opposite. It asks the person to consider what behaviours they could display in order to achieve success in a specific context they face. From there they can discuss whether they are comfortable to behave this way or not and whether it aligns with their values and is acceptable in their culture (including ethics and morals). It does not categorising the people, it provides a choice about the range of behaviours (represented by the metaphorical animal characters) that will provide them with optimal outcomes. Because each animal represents a single behaviour, not the person as a whole, there is opportunity to make a conscious choice of which they can apply to different situations to achieve the desired outcomes. Furthermore, it highlights the value of behavioural diversity, considering a range of perspectives and behavioural adaptability. It challenges the people involved to engage in a way they will lead them to better outcomes. Conversations around behavioural choices highlight the value of reflection before acting and planning behaviour with others, especially when engaging with stakeholders you are wishing to influence. Over time conversations that matter around this embeds the metaphor into the language of the organisational culture and evolves the relationships in your teams. Because it is fun (game based), safe, conversational and inclusive, it engages people to share their perspectives of the impacts of behaviour on outcomes and explore alternative paths to achieve these. This builds trust and relationships between the people and leads to higher performance at individual, team and organisational levels (around whatever you want to focus on).

There are several published papers on The Organizational Zoo concepts to support how the concept works, including the use of the Character Cards and free on-line profiler. My PhD thesis contains a lot of data about their effectiveness and freely downloadable from the internet. This blog contains many posts about how the games can be applied and the Organizational Zoo Ambassadors (a free peer mentoring group) supports people to get started on use of the approach.

The key insight is it works! No need for theory or detailed presentations. Workshops literally around the world (e.g. UK, Europe, USA, China, Vietnam, Australia, Middle East, Singapore…) have demonstrated people quickly engage with the concept and start sharing insights about trust, relationships, leadership, conflict, collaboration and a wide range of other challenges. Their interactions increase mutual understanding and reduces stress.
Why not just try it and see what you can achieve yourself?

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Arthur Shelley

Arthur is collaborative leader who engages stakeholders to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. His professional success record spans over 30 years of experience across the international corporate, government and tertiary education sectors. Internationally recognised as a knowledge and capability development thought leader, equipped with a diversity of skills and achievements including being the author of two books, a regular international conference speaker, award winning tertiary teacher and a volunteer student mentor and career advisor. Creator and leader of the Organizational Zoo Ambassador Network, an international association of professionals interested in sharing and innovative application of metaphor based behavioural learning and development to improve personal and team outcomes and build relationships.

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