The System Time-Out Process is a methodology for bringing
group of about 15-25 key people across three organizational levels to
work on a critical business issue. A "STOP," which usually takes the
form of a one-day event, brings together the creative-problem methods
of the Idea Factory™ with central insights from the Organization
Workshop™ about improving relationships between organizational levels
and between customers and suppliers.
suppose that an organization is in the middle of rolling-out an
important organizational change program, or in the process of
implementing a critical business strategy. Also suppose that this
change or implementation is not
going as well or as quickly as it needs to. Very often what is behind
these difficulties are "invisible" systemic power dynamics between
organizational levels. As the Organization Workshop™ vividly
demonstrates, top, middle, and front-line levels each tend to fall into
certain debilitating attitudes and behaviors that reduce organizational
Each System Time-Out Process revolves around a "focal issue," for
example: "our department's new customer-focus initiative" or "the
change to a team-based organization." In a session attended by an
intact group that spans three organizational levels:
Each level clarifies how they perceive the focal issue and how they
have been trying to "fix" the issue as they see it.
The facilitator then briefly reviews the Organization Workshop™
framework, giving people insight into how systemic organizational
forces lead people at different levels to react differently to the same
focal issue. Everyone then works toward new ways of understanding and
responding to the issue. These new approaches include "high-leverage"
solutions that deal with underlying issues. They also involve more
empowered and empowering ways of dealing with the organizational
pressures experienced by different organizational levels. After a
process where each level receives coaching from the other levels, each
person leaves the session publicly committed to a set of action steps
that will move the whole organization ahead.
The System Time-Out Process has been very effective not only as a
stand-alone organizational problem-solving intervention, but also as a
follow-up to the Organization Workshop,™ directly applying workshop
learnings to important business issues.