In This Video

A talk with Michael Spayd.

Transcript (Automatically Generated)

So, welcome to the KnolShare with Dr. Dave Podcast, Michael. I’m just so excited to have you today for our conversation about The Social Justice Center’s impact, especially in the Agile community.

Michael Spayd:

Thank you for having me, Dave.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah, I’m just really glad that you were able to connect. So let’s just kick off and begin by you doing a quick elevator pitch about who is Michael Spayd and make sure our audience knows who you are and the good work that you’re doing, if there is good work. Just kidding.

Michael Spayd:

I hope so.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah.

Michael Spayd:

Well, I’ve been in the Agile World about 20 years actually and have done a lot of large-scale transformations and started the Agile Coaching Institute with Lyssa Adkins in 2010. And more recently started a company called The Collective Edge with Lyssa and Michael Hamman and Kat Conner. And the time I’ve spent in the Agile community has been around bringing disciplines, methodologies, techniques in from other disciplines outside of technical ones or Agile software development like facilitation, professional coaching, organizational change and culture, leadership development, things that are really important that are needed in the Agile community but that the Agile community doesn’t necessarily know a whole lot about or is not native to them. And I just finished a book with Michele Madore called Agile Transformation: Using the Integral Agile Transformation Framework To Think And Lead Differently. And that’s about a big picture view of how transformations go and when we can expect them to happen and when we can’t.

Dr. Dave:

Excellent.

Michael Spayd:

And that’s a little about me.

Dr. Dave:

That’s wonderful. So let’s talk about the emotions that systemic racism bring to the surface for you, and really how do you deal with those feelings? Because those are heavy things for people like myself, but what of for you?

Michael Spayd:

Yeah, sure.

Dr. Dave:

What is that experience and the emotion that comes with that?

Michael Spayd:

Well, so I would say that before this year of 2020, my awareness of systemic racism was fleeting, to be honest. It was in patches or in moments and not sustained more as it is now. As I’ve been reflecting on just the killings this year, the clear record of police violence and oppression and how that extends into all kinds of other places, has really sobered me about that and made me… There’s some guilt for me. I wasn’t paying attention to this in a way that I wish I would’ve before. So there’s some regret that way. And there’s also just some deep compassion.

I remember going to… I live in Richmond, Virginia right now, and going down Monument Avenue where there’s all these Confederate monuments and seeing the Robert E. Lee one, which has been taken over by Black Lives Matter and all these pictures on little stakes of black people that have been killed. And just feeling into that in a much deeper way than I have before. And just seeing the pattern and the picture and just raising my empathy for what that’s like. It’s sort of horrifying to me. So just trying to increase my awareness of systemic racism, the racism in me.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah. So do you sense there are challenges with social justice in the Agile community and where there is little empathy for black, indigenous and people of color lives in this space?

Michael Spayd:

Sure, in the same way that it is in most of our society. I don’t know that I’ve seen it as particularly strong or more so than elsewhere in our society. In fact, in some ways, less so. I think there’s a general sensitivity to pluralism in different people’s points of view. But I don’t think that the Agile community is very active about that, in trying to address systemic racism and lack of sensitivity. So I don’t know that I think we’ve done a particularly great job nor a particularly bad job relative to the whole content mix that we’re in.

Dr. Dave:

So let’s talk about systemic consciousness, something that I think you’re passionate about. How would you use systemic consciousness, to help deal, heal not deal, but heal the harm and hurt that biPAP lives experience through systemic racism?

Michael Spayd:

Right. Well, I work with a methodology called Systemic Constellations and I use the term Systemic Consciousness to talk about how we can explore… We usually think of our consciousness as our own individual consciousness, but there’s a bigger group and theory the systems that we participate in our family, our ancestors going way back the organizations we’re part of and there’s a part of us that’s very attuned to those systems that we’re in often unconsciously. And so systemic constellations allow us to see what the patterns and dynamics are in our own history.

I’ve been a part of constellations that deal with slavery and direct racial oppression going back generations. And when you do this a very experiential, it’s not an intellectual experience at all. It’s a very bodily experiential sensation, feeling oriented kind of a technique. And you can feel, you can see the direct hurt, the deep wound of having a society that’s against you in some way and that condones your repression. And so, both for black people, but also for white people like me to understand it, to like be… Because I can represent somebody who was black for instance, in a constellation and get more of a visceral sense of that. We’d go back to that original sort of wounding which might be four or five, six generations back.

There’s a healing quality to that that I don’t think I can convey very easily, but it’s very moving. It has been for me, it has been for people that I’ve been a part of them working in that way. So that feels like a very direct for me stepping into. I have ancestors, I think i don’t have any specific things, but I think I have ancestors who were slave holders and that’s facing that or being I didn’t do that of course but that is part of my lineage in some way, as part of my privilege and being able to face that or see that really shifts something. And I can feel it as I’m talking about it right now that it’s very confrontal.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah. I could actually feel it even though we’re virtually apart, but just for the audience so they understand when you speak about constellation, what are you saying such that the person who were never a part of any of these types of practices would have an understanding? I just wanted to make sure that we capture that.

Michael Spayd:

Yeah sure. Yeah Great. Yeah sure. Well, a constellation is something you do with a group of people, usually who are unrelated to each other. So it’s not like you bring together a family or something, it’s you bring together people that are interested in growth in this way, and you, at least in the physical world you might have 10, 15 people in a group and somebody would decide to set up a constellation for their own family system or an issue that they’re dealing with. And they choose people to represent maybe a grandfather or a mother or a sibling. And you see very quickly the dynamics of that system. And then you trace that back. Usually there’s some kind of wielding or there’s some kind of lack of success or lack of fulfillment in life that traces it back to our ancestors, that there’s a family system, pattern that’s going on there.

And so people start to experience them like the people that are chosen to represent family members don’t know anything about that person and yet they get information from the field, from the systemic field that informs them about what that person’s life was like in some way. And it’s just a very visceral, very deep experience of the dynamics that go on and then that you trace that back to places where the original wounding happened, which could have been many generations ago like I said. So does that give you a little bit of a sense [inaudible 00:11:54] ?

Dr. Dave:

Yeah. That gives me a sense that I mean I wanted it for the audience so that when you hear and they go like, “I know what that is” or maybe, “I could reach out to you.”

Michael Spayd:

Yes. I have some videos on the web about that. One was Adventures With Agile in the UK called Systemic consciousness I think it is, that shows me doing a constellation, which could give people a sense of that. They’re interesting.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah. What I’ll do is just include that as part of the delivery. So at least that I have watched those. So you wrote about the late John Lewis “May I have half the courage, a third of the heart and a 10th of the impact of this lion who has moved on.” And sorry, I was out trolling you on Facebook. So I smacked.

Michael Spayd:

I was wondering where you got that Dave.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah, I got that from Facebook. So, how are you using your super powers to bring to life some of the principles that John Lewis stood for. Truly he is a lion, right?

Michael Spayd:

Yeah. That was the hardest question in your set that you sent me. I only hope that I am. For me, I don’t know a huge amount about John Lewis’ life, but I know the presence that he had. The presence that he had was lion hearted, right? If it was both a backbone of steel and a heart, an open heart, there was both things in him. When I do my transformation work and teaching and whatever, I certainly try to stand with a backbone and a heart. My gift is to be able to be really deeply with people in the fire. It’s not hard, I don’t shy away from intense emotion or feeling of people or their process. That doesn’t scare me or [inaudible 00:14:38]. And so I try to do that with a certain steadiness and certain gentleness and compassion. I don’t have a lot of thoughts about John, but I have this image he’s just firmly… I get his presence somehow. I don’t know if that makes sense but I can almost evoke it in myself.

Dr. Dave:

No. I understand that man has done a tremendous amount for our country and for the world and for humanity, in my opinion. Anyway, I want to learn about your latest book. I heard that you have a new book coming out or just recently released. Tell us a little bit about your book.

Michael Spayd:

It’s out December 9th. So when this will be published but maybe be out by then. I’ve been working on writing it for about eight years and it’s a long… But the basic point of it, it incorporates the integral theory in a remodel from Kim Robber into an approach to organizational transformation spurred by Agile. I think that the biggest message of the book is that we often lock into just one primary perspective like practices and behavior perspective in terms of implementing organizational transformation. And we really have to pay attention to consciousness and the leadership that comes out of the kind of consciousness that we have. A culture and systemic consciousness and what we create together and what we feel together. And as we out picture organizational structures, the organizational structures themselves, how adaptive they are, as well as the practices and behaviors.

So we have to take a very integrated if you will or multi-perspectival view in order to be successful. And then also that there’s a natural developmental progression that both individuals go through and organizations go through. And jumping from one level up too is just not going to happen. So people that kind of the typical, well, we call it an Achievement Orange organization are not going to be able to implement Holacracy for instance, which is a organization structure that’s popular amongst them, Agile is just, that’s just doesn’t make sense. And we as Agileists tend to be more on the leading edge of thinking, that’s why we were attracted to Agile in the first place and the places that we’re implementing that are not up to speed in that sense. And so we have to be careful not to push them through our only ambition, a desire to help which usually doesn’t end up helping. We have to really be invited into something. So it’s how to develop yourself as a leader and how to see the whole big picture of an organizational transformation of what’s really possible.

Dr. Dave:

Okay. What is the title of your book? We jumped in and didn’t state that.

Michael Spayd:

Yeah. It’s called Agile Transformation. Subtitle is Using the Integral Agile Transformation Framework to Think and Lead Differently.

Dr. Dave:

Okay, awesome. So then they’ll be available, the 9th of December, which would be right around the same time this podcast is coming out. Yeah. So it would be perfect. Let’s talk about your hope for the role of agile practitioners and enabling social justice in their workplace but also in their community. What hope comes from you as you think about us?

Michael Spayd:

Yeah. I think that, like I said, people that are attracted to Agile are attracted to a bit higher consciousness. And so I think that the Agile community is very right for being sensitive to that in that they’re more pluralistic than the average our society as a whole is. So I think we are a rich target for greater awareness and I think initiatives like this podcast are pushing into that space and bringing the light of awareness around. I would think or at least hope that this community is going to be very receptive to that awareness cause they are to diversity issues, I think in general, not withstanding that it’s clear we’re not highly different in terms of women or minorities. We certainly have our ways to go in that way, but I do think that there’s more openness or sensitivity to that in this community even if we’re all have been mired in on consciousness. Speaking for myself at least.

Dr. Dave:

So nothing really. You don’t see a big movement taking place or I mean in terms of hope or in terms of [inaudible 00:20:39] as you speak of your transformation but do you have any hopes in that context in terms of, as we walk into the workplace of being able to facilitate some of those conversations?

Michael Spayd:

Yeah, absolutely. I think that that’s the cutting edge of conversation right now. That kind of awareness is I think absolutely what’s needed to do organizational transformation is evolve the impacts of all the ways that we are together and the consequences of that.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah. I was just trying to see if I could connect your book into the topic to make sure… Yeah, right? How that your thinking could also contribute to the thinking of the community or for a few who may.

Michael Spayd:

Yeah. Well. The book has a strong emphasis on traditional systems thinking, but also what I call left-hand systems thinking, which is on the left quadrants in the integral model. The more subjective ones, the systemic consciousness. So the book and doing a transformation is very much about becoming a bigger systems’ thinker and seeing that all the impacts of how our systems that we created out of a certain frame of mind or thinking pattern that we don’t see the unintended consequences of it like systemic racism. We don’t see that. But systems thinking are ways and constellation are ways to see that more clearly to experience it directly.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah. That’s wonderful. So, I would love to when your book comes out and I’m going to ping you and say, “Hey, I bought a book.” Can you say, “Can you autograph Becca?”

Michael Spayd:

We got to figure out a Kindle way to put an autograph in the book.

Dr. Dave:

Wouldn’t that be awesome though.

Michael Spayd:

Yes it would. Right?

Dr. Dave:

Exactly. That’d be great. So any final thoughts that you would like to contribute to this conversation?

Michael Spayd:

Well, I just want to acknowledge and appreciate your initiative in taking this on. And I think you had an agreement with the Agile Alliance about it. And I think it’s great that you’re asking these questions and that you’re trying to bring this awareness to us. And I appreciate that.

Dr. Dave:

Well, thank you so much. I think this is important for our community. I love our community and I want to make sure that there is healing and there’s opportunity for us to lean in to some of these conversations that we’re out there coaching and training and providing consultancies to organizations who are going from adoption to transformation. So I wanted to make sure that there is at least a voice and some awareness that, “Hey, you could step into this too. No matter BiPAP live or not.”

Michael Spayd:

Yeah. Right. Yeah. I think it’s great. It’s helping all of us really get somebody else’s that doesn’t look like us as experience.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah.

Michael Spayd:

And that’s certainly, that’s probably been the most impactful thing for me in this last six months is really understanding black people’s experience, more people that I know. And it’s given us easier permission to ask that question or to explore that issue together before I think it felt like something you don’t talk about socially or something, there was a barrier about it.

Dr. Dave:

It tends to be that way because it’s on political conversation for some people and we don’t like conflicts, right? As human beings really. We don’t have to. So understood. So, Michael, thank you so much for your time today. I really look forward to an opportunity to have more conversation, especially around your book when it comes out and maybe we’ll have you back on another podcast [inaudible 00:25:15] outside of just talking about social justice, we’ll just dig into your book and have some conversations around that.

Michael Spayd:

Cool. Well, thank you Dr. Dave. Appreciate that very much.

Dr. Dave:

You’re welcome. Any big plans for Thanksgiving?

Michael Spayd:

Well, I’m right in the middle of writing my LinkedIn post of gratitude for things in my world, which I [inaudible 00:25:39] one of my favorite Thanksgiving practices actually. And I will say that I enjoy turkey and stuffing and wine on Thanksgiving.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah of course. All good stuff.

Michael Spayd:

Planning that. Yes in deed.

Dr. Dave:

Well, wonderful. Thank you for listening to the Knolshare with Dr. Dave podcast, with our guest Michael Spayd. I hope this learning experience would also prompt you to seek more and discover how you can contribute to the positive experiences for BiPAP lives. It doesn’t take much. All we need to do is to tap into our own humanity. You will find Agile for Humanity, Social Justice, and Impact series on the Knolshare with Dr. Dave podcast on iTunes, Google play, and Spotify. The Agile for Humanity, Social Justice and Impact series is also on the following websites. You could go to agilealliance.org or knolsharewithdrdave.com or grokshare.com, knolshare.org and also theagileforhumanity.org website. Just under Agile Alliance website, I want you to look for sharing black lives, indigenous and people of color stories on their website under their webcast. I want to give some shout out for contributions to Kiana Brown Hendrickson for the music that we use. And this podcast is copyright 2020 by Knolshare and Dr. Dave Cornelius. So until next time I say, be well, stay safe and let’s get connected.

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