The Escher Cycle and Jungian psychology

Part of Jungian psychology includes the idea that we interpret the world in terms of archetypes.

There are several of these, but the work of two Jungian analysts, Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, has distilled them down to just four.

By combining the two essential qualities of people’s psychology as either active or passive and feminine or masculine, they identified four essential Jungian archetypes:

  • Sovereign
  • Warrior
  • Magician
  • Lover

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There isn’t space to go into detail here, but other archetypes can be seen as combinations of these fundamentals. And all four archetypes exist to a greater or lesser degree in everyone.

The Sovereign represents the ‘passive masculine’. If you think of Continue Reading >

Self-Reinforcing Cycle of Leadership

Another example of the Escher Cycle has popped up in an unexpected place: personal leadership.

Suppose you have decided to change something in your business. You’ve decided to create a new product or service, open a new location, close a location, change the way that something in your business gets done, or whatever.

The first thing you do is create a plan. You use your personal insights, and the experience of any other leaders involved, to design how you want the organisation to be and how you’re going to achieve that.

Then your plan becomes a change project: you and the team work together to implement what you have planned and bring about the new way of doing things.

In the process you all have your own individual experiences of the change. You all experience it from different perspectives, depending on your roles, and you interpret those experiences in different ways.

Later you reflect on what worked, and what didn’t, and these experiences then get converted into new insights and rules of thumb. “Getting stakeholder buy-in is the most important part of the process,” “Getting stakeholder buy-in is a waste of time.” “A 15% margin for contingencies is really important” or “A 15% margin for contingencies is way too high.” And so-on.

When the time comes to design the next change project you use these insights and experiences to plan what is possible and how you will acheive it.

The repeating cycle looks like this: Continue Reading >

IBM: Leadership as ‘guided serendipity’

Adam CutlerAs the pace of business life accelerates, so we expect managers to shift from focusing on control (which becomes impossible) to facilitation: to switch from focusing on outcomes to focusing on the processes that create those outcomes.

We’d expect those shifts to appear first in the parts of the business that face directly on to the outside world, namely design, marketing, and sales.

This short article by Adam Cutler, design studio director at IBM, describes the steps he is taking to revitalise that company’s design approach.

He talks about optimising “for possibilities rather than outcomes.”

He designs a circulatory flow “to create a self-sustaining culture of curiosity and collaboration that feeds itself by mobilising thoughts, ideas and possibilities… The recursive effect through the studio helps spread ideas that, in turn, influence the quality of everyone’s work.”

The Escher Cycle is all about focusing on the fundamental processes that create the key outcomes for any business. The process Adam describes is very much in line with the AUDIO cycle, described in Chapter 6.

You can read more about his story here.