3.5 Looking to the East: A Leader’s Role



    EGL Newsletter Volume 3.5


    Continuing in our series on Understanding Organization we will continue our walk around the organization wheel in the east. In using the Organization Wheel, we started our journey in the north, the place of wisdom. From there we continued our journey to the east.

    According to the Medicine Wheel, the east represented youth and beginnings. The animal of the north was the golden eagle, and the east was associated with clarity and illumination. The east, the direction of the rising sun, represented a constant renewal. The eagle represented the ability to see far long distances into that direction.

    Our spirit warrior leaders use this walk to take the long view into renewal. They aspire to understand the journey to renewal, and the path to success. They use the east to refresh the organization.

    For our corporate shamen, the east represents the “how” of the work work. It represents the path that our business takes into the future. In looking at organization dynamics, this renewal process is represented as your core transformation process, the constant conversion of a raw material (whatever the sort) into a valued product.

    A bit more explanation on the Organization Wheel. There are two elements in the east. One is Alignment with the Environment and the other is Clarity of Purpose.

    Core Technical System – This element covers the input and output requirements of the transformation processes that produce the organization’s core products. It’s technologies and practices for controlling the variance in those processes. The information, knowledge, skills, capabilities, and issue resolution practices required to operate, maintain, manage contingencies and upgrade those process to match the demands and dynamics of the environment.

    Human Organization – This element contains the organization’s role structure, processes, boundary locations and network of relationships for accomplishing and supporting the core transformation process, dealing with the environment, supporting the people, and adapting to the future.


    For this work, you move your focus clockwise around The Wheel, first to explore your Technical and Human systems in the East, and then on to the People and Support Systems in the South. At this early stage, you probably won’t need to look deeply into the other three elements of The Wheel; measurement, reward, and learning, unless the major driver for change is coming from one of these elements.

    Here are a few questions that might help you develop a good high level assessment of the state of your processes. Again, as you answer these questions make note of the mismatches or gaps you may ultimately need to address, and keep track of any ideas about fixes that pop out (although you want to discourage specific effort in this area).

    About your core products

    Referring to the work you did addressing Alignment with the Environment and Clarity of Purpose, what are your major stakeholders’ critical specifications for the core products and services you provide?

    About the core processes that provide your core products

    How reliably do your core processes deliver on the critical specifications?

    About the structure and processes of your human organization

    How well do the distribution of roles and the boundaries of your organization support high performance in planning for the future, controlling your core processes and dealing with your environment?

    How is the work that needs to be accomplished by this organization identified, prioritized, scheduled, and allocated? How effective are the processes?

    How is information and authority needed to effectively accomplish the work allocated? How well is it working?

    How is coordination and alignment across the internal boundaries of your organization accomplished? How well is it working?

    For the leader, the work of the east is in understanding at a very deep level the transformational process of the organization. This is where organization high performance is made manifest, and where connected leaders align their people with their purpose.

    Next time, we’ll move to the south.

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