Care Pods [Enspiral]

Source: Boyatzis (2006)

A big hurdle in adopting alternative organizational “operating systems” (roles, responsibilities, etc.) instead of the traditional, single-hierarchy, authority-driven system has been the incomprehensiveness of those alternative systems. 

Some core elements of the collaborative efforts are simply left unaddressed by the alternative systems. Oddly enough, those gaps often have to do with the human aspects of the collaborative effort: compensation, performance management, hiring/firing, professional development, etc. — you know, the “easy” stuff…

So when I stumble upon a practice that seems to be filling some of these gaps, without relying on the traditional structures — it is certainly worth sharing.  

And such is the case with Enspiral’s Care Pods which offer a very compelling alternative for driving personal and professional development in a way that is not dependent on a manager (as-a-coach) role, or cumbersome feedback cycles. 

At their core, Care Pods aim to “operationalize”, or implement, Richard BoyatzisIntentional Change Theory (ICT) through a series of 8 sessions (that can then be run iteratively, in perpetuity) carried out by a small group of 4–6 people (aka the Core Pod). The slightly more detailed session plan with high-level agendas for each session and supporting exercises, is available in the original doc but here’s the summary of the summary: 

  • Session 1: Overview
  • Session 2: Getting started
  • Session 3: Ideal self
  • Session 4: Real self 
  • Session 5: Developing a learning plan for change
  • Session 6: Implementing the learning plan
  • Session 7: Care pod retrospective
  • Session 8: Iteration

To me, this seems implementation-ready in its current form and already a massive step up compared to the way 99% of organizations are handling personal and professional development today. It’d also offer a few additional tweaks to make it even better, in my opinion at least: 

  • I do think that this approach skews a bit too heavy towards the “self-reflection” pole of the “feedback”<->”self-reflection” polarity (more on this next week). What this means in practice, is that a thoughtful, well designed peer-feedback exercise that extends beyond the members of the Care Pod and carried out between sessions 3 and 4 can provide fantastic fodder for the formulation of a more accurate “real self” picture in session 4, leading to a more effective learning plan in session 5.
  • I would also either extend or split session 5 to create the space to introduce Immunity to Change as a core framework for understanding our “default” behavior, and using it to design behavioral experiments that are more likely to yield the change that we seek.
  • Lastly, I’d sprinkle in 1–2 purely “social” sessions, to strengthen connections between the Care Pod members in a more informal setting (drinks, dinner, some other outside-the-office activity). 

Net-net this is a fantastic practice that I’d be eager to implement in either the future org that I’ll join or the organizations that I’ll be consulting with. 

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Care Pods [Enspiral]

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