Cultivating a Deliberately Developmental Organization: Insights from Lisa Lahey and Robert Kegan

December 8, 2023

Learn how to lead a Deliberately Developmental Organizations

Let’s dive into the world of Deliberately Developmental Organizations (DDOs) inspired by the thought-provoking work of Lisa Lahey and Robert Kegan. Their book, “The Everyone Culture,” is a true gift for those seeking to understand the transformational power of fostering personal and professional growth within an organization.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Lahey and Kegan have a unique talent for giving words to the unspoken thoughts that resonate with many of us. It’s refreshing to see them not just theorize but validate their findings with transparency. Unlike some who generalize their theories based on a select few success stories, they meticulously studied three companies, highlighting that only one consciously applied human development theory. This transparency is a breath of fresh air in the world of organizational development.

Deliberately Developmental Organizations

The essence of a DDO lies in recognizing that the war for talent isn’t merely about recruiting the best; it’s about developing the best within your organization. People thrive when they can grow, and this growth shouldn’t be a sporadic event but an integral part of the company culture.

To achieve this, a DDO integrates deeper forms of learning into every aspect of its operations. It encourages personal and professional risk-taking and rewards employees for doing so. This cultural shift isn’t for the faint-hearted and requires courage and resilience. But the reward is an organization where 100% of its people show up every day, ready to contribute their best.

The Challenge of Maintaining High Performance

Here’s the paradox: maintaining high performance isn’t about staying within your comfort zone; it’s about pushing boundaries and embracing innovation. If employees focus on ego protection and looking good, they’re less likely to take risks or question the status quo. This leads to stagnation and mediocrity.

Deliberately Developmental Organization: A New Perspective

Lahey and Kegan challenge the conventional notion that developing people and delivering high returns are mutually exclusive. They propose that these two goals are not a trade-off but rather systematically linked. In a world where innovation is key, organizations can’t afford to shy away from the discomfort of growth.

The Role of Mindset

While skills and motivation are important, what sets the superstars apart is their mindset—the ability to discern patterns and connections in a chaotic world. Lahey and Kegan’s past work on adult development models underpins the importance of mindset in their DDO concept.

Final Thoughts

Lisa Lahey and Robert Kegan’s exploration of Deliberately Developmental Organizations challenges us to rethink how we nurture talent and drive innovation. They remind us that the path to sustained high performance isn’t paved with complacency but with continuous growth.

Reach your next peak

We help leaders expand the change they want to see in their teams, organizations, and the wider world.