"If you're in a bad situation, don't worry, it'll change. If you're in a good situation, don't worry, it'll change."
-- John A. Simone Jr.
A-shaped people are A-shaped because they have developed the capacity to not only hold and see the intrinsic value in all stakeholder views while thinking and acting from a systemic point of view, they can also align and cohere these views and harness system dynamics to create powerful change and direction for their communities, organizations and institutions. The “A” stands for the ability to unify or harness multiple streams into a coherent, clear strategy and direction.
So how do we see A-shaped people?
- Around 5% of the adults in the US are believed to be A-shaped.
- With A-shaped capacity, individuals are able to look at the entire value chain for any decision and choose paths that can potentially align short, medium and long-term benefits.
- A-shaped people can be many things to many people as they adjust their selves to resonate with the needs of the situation.
- A-shaped people may be leaders or may be behind the scenes orchestrating and designing.
- May be seen as “visionary”, may be seen as aloof or “strange”.
- Can fully embrace and leverage the power of non-linear, systemic thinking and dynamics.
- More capable than H-shaped people of taking decisive action in the face of complex issues and multiple “good ideas.”
- A-shaped people are comfortable with ambiguity and “big-picture” thinking.
- Perceives self as self-regulated part of greater inter-related contexts (organization, family, environment)
- Thinks and acts with respect for inter-relation, unintended and hidden consequences of action.
- May be perceived as slow to move from a T-shaped perspective.
- Strong potential for eco-systemic thinking and eco-logically coherent action.
- Capable of leading, designing and implementing multi-cultural, multi-national projects or projects with highly changeable or fuzzy targets.
- Often highly interested in not only own development but the growth and development of others.
- Seeks multi-win solutions.
- May be seen as callous and not compassionate.
- Enjoys reframing norms and rules when perceived as limiting, outmoded or short-sighted.
- May play a variety of roles in work and life. May confuse or confound earlier action logics that seek linear consistency.
- Creative in conflict resolution. May use humor or other unorthodox approaches to resolve tensions.
- May be intolerant of opposition and perceived lack of vision.
- Tend to be highly flexible, capable of working in a wide range of contexts, with a wide range of people.
A-shaped people are complex and difficult to pin down. Because they operate by scanning and considering action from diverse and complex sets of inputs their decision making may seem sagely and wise or completely off the mark by their co-workers and community members. A-shaped people often are found in consulting and advisory positions because of the value their perspective brings to decision making, planning and design. If given limited responsibility or expected to fulfill mundane tasks with little autonomy or vertical loaded scope, they will quickly tire of the work and move on to more challenging and stimulating opportunities. The evolution from “T” to “H” to “A” is a very important one for any community, organization, institution or government in need of global perspectives, eco-systemic vision or planning for long-term sustainability. At Interkannections we believe that current and future demands on leadership will require A-shaped capacity as a minimum for effective leadership.
*Based on research done by Susanne Cook-GreuterPosted 08 May 08 by Zach Smith