Co-Creation and Evolution

Pattern 1.1: Respond to Organizational Drivers

Clarify what’s happening and what’s needed in relation to the organization, and respond as required.

Responses to drivers:

  • action
  • agreement (including creating a role, circle, team or open domain)

The response to a driver is usually an experiment that is evolved over time,
based on learning.

Review of Drivers

  • Is the description of the situation still correct?
  • Do we still associate the same needs with the situation?
  • Is the driver still within our domain?
  • Is the driver still relevant?

Pattern 1.2: Qualify Organizational Drivers

Some situations might be helpful to address in the context of an organization’s primary driver. Others are not within an organization’s domain.

A simple way to qualify organizational drivers is by checking:

Would responding to this driver improve – or avoid impeding – flow of value to an existing Organizational Driver? a.k.a. can it help or harm us?

Pattern 1.3: Objection

An objection is a reason why doing something stands in the way of (more) effective response to a driver.

Objections contain information that reveals:

  • a certain or likely consequence of harm (not considered safe enough to try)
  • ways to improve proposals, decisions, existing agreements or actions

Qualifying Objections

How would doing this impede – or miss an opportunity to improve – flow of value to any organizational driver?

Objections stop:

  • current and planned action
  • people from executing on decisions
  • existing agreements from continuing without being reconsidered
  • proposals from becoming agreements

It’s the accountability of individuals to raise objections. Those accountable for the action or (proposed) agreement they relate to, are responsible for addressing them.

Withholding objections can harm the ability of individuals, groups or the whole organization to respond to organizational drivers.

Being able to raise objections at any time means decisions only need to be good enough for now and safe enough to try.

Understanding Objections

Some Helpful Questions

  • Does the objection relate to this specific proposal or agreement?
  • Does this objection reveal how a (proposed or current) action or agreement:
    • harms response to any organizational driver?
    • can be improved right now?
    • prevents or diminishes someone’s contribution towards responding to a driver?
    • is in conflict with the organization’s values?
    • is considered not ‘safe enough’ to try?


A concern is an opinion that doing something (even if already considered good enough for now and safe enough to try) might impede – or miss an opportunity to improve – flow of value to an organizational driver.

In consent decision making, concerns:

  • can inform ways to further evolve agreements (including evaluation criteria and frequency of evaluation)
  • are heard if there is time or they are considered important
  • are recorded in the logbook

If people believe a proposal may not be ‘safe enough to try’, they can raise concerns as objections to check with others about likelyhood of harm.

Pattern 1.4: Resolve Objections

A way for resolving objections

  • resolve objections:
    • hear one objection
    • amend proposal
    • ask for any objections to amendment
    • resolve objections to amendment (hear/amend/ask/resolve)
    • process next objection

Pattern 1.5: Consent Decision Making

  • a decision making process (often facilitated)
  • invite objections, and integrate the wisdom they reveal, to evolve proposals or existing agreements
  • withholding objections can harm the aims of a group or organization
  • unaddressed objections prevent proposals becoming agreements
  • “can you live with it until the review?” ➤ proposals only need to be good enough for now and safe enough to try

Implicit Contract of Consent

  • In the absence of objections against an agreement, I intend to follow through on the agreement to the best of my ability.
  • I agree to share objections as I become aware of them.

Pattern 1.6: Navigate Via Tension

Identify and accounting for organizational drivers.

All members bring awareness to what might help or harm the organization, and aim to account for drivers in an effective way.

A tension is a personal experience: a symptom of dissonance between an individual’s perception of a situation, and their expectations (or preferences).

Challenges and opportunities for an organization are revealed as people become aware of tension they experience in relation to them.

To discover drivers, look behind tension and describe what’s happening and what’s needed. Sometimes our inquiry reveals misconceptions and the tension goes away.

Awareness of organizational drivers can be passed to an appropriate domain to be addressed.

Pattern 1.7: Proposal Forming

A (facilitated) format for co-creating a response to a driver.

  • draws on the collective intelligence and diversity of perspective within a group
  • involves people in co-creating agreements
  • fosters accountability and sense of ownership

Proposal Forming Process

  • Present and consent to driver: Is this driver relevant to respond to and a clear enough articulation of what’s happening and what’s needed?
  • Deepen shared understanding of driver: invite essential questions to understand more detail about the driver
  • Collect considerations relating to possible solutions, as questions that reveal constraints and the scope of possibility (information gathering questions and generative questions)
  • Answer any information gathering questions if possible
  • Gather ideas as possible ingredients for a proposal
  • Design a proposal for addressing the driver considering the creative ideas and information gathered so far. This is usually done by an individual or a smaller group.

Template for Proposals

Pattern 1.8: Those Affected Decide

Involve everyone who will be affected by a decision, to maintain equivalence and accountability, and increase the amount of information available on the subject.

For larger groups:

  • facilitate a process in several stages and create smaller groups who select delegates
  • set out a virtual, asynchronous, time-boxed and staged process

Treat review and evolution of decisions accordingly.

Pattern 1.9: Role Selection

A pattern for selecting people for roles.

  • People avoid expressing interest before the selection
  • Nominations are made on the strength of the reason, not according to the majority
  • You can nominate yourself or pass
  • When checking for objections, ask the person nominated last

Objections to a nominee may be resolved in many ways, including amending the role description or by nominating someone else.

Pattern 1.10: Driver Mapping

A workshop format to identify an effective response to a complex situation: organize start-ups, kick-off projects, tackle major impediments or opportunities, align organizational structure to the flow of value.

  • inspired by Gojko Adzic’s Impact Mapping
  • small or large groups identify and prioritize drivers, progressing quickly from concept to action in self-organizing teams.

Driver Mapping: Template for Domains

Read next: Peer Development (or back to Introduction)

©2017 by Bernhard Bockelbrink and James Priest. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0