A Palette of Possibilities a robust collection of lenses and design principles.  
Rainbow Lens

Organizations can be thought of as purposeful webs of relationships and agreements. Sustainable success in any organization is clearly dependent on the quality of those agreements and relationships with and among all key stakeholder populations. These two variables feed on each other. For this reason we've initially focused on quality of agreements and relationships to provide a simplified illustration of the Rainbow Chart concept.

Click here for a more robust example of a Quality of Relationship Chart. This one was created in support of a series of in-house "Leadership Learning Expeditions."

Example Applications of Rainbow Lenses

Quality of Agreements

Dimensions Red Zone Orange Zone Yellow Zone Green Zone Blue Zone
Attitude I Will Defeat You. I Will Use You. You Scratch My Back... We Are Partners. We Are For Each Other and For the Whole.
Philosophy Do Unto Others BEFORE They Do Unto You. Do Unto Others Because Everyone is Doing It. Do Unto Others In a Way That is Fair. Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You. Do For All in a Way That Best Serves All.
Beliefs Might Makes Right — Winning is Everything. It's a Tough Competitive World. We Need to Compromise. Strategic Partnership is Possible. All Stakeholders Served Means Sustainable Growth.
Quality of Agreement — Making / Keeping Progress Tacit, Dysfunctional, Hostile, Co-dependant. Legalistic and/or Haphazard. Intent, Roles and Promises Clear. ...And Effective Accountability Loops in Place. ...And These Loops Are Self-Improving and Self-Evolving.

Quality of Relationships

Dimensions Red Zone Orange Zone Yellow Zone Green Zone Blue Zone
Communication Attacking and Blaming. Distracted and Confusing. Focused and Non-Judgmental. Active and Appreciative. Seeking the Genius in Each Other.
What's It Like Around Here? Forceful and Uncertain. Wasteful and Convoluted. Polite and Aloof. Concern for Others. Alive with Enthusiasm and Respect.
Business Results Exploitative for the Good of a Few. Subtly Exploitative. Value Adding. Consistent High Performance. Radical Sustainable Growth.

Rainbow Charts Beta Tested at SBODN Conference — The above two charts, along with a Rainbow Lens interpretation of the Yin-Yang Lens and B- work, were tested with a sizeable group of HR and OD practitioners at a South Bay OD Network Conference on May 13, 2005. Click here to check out those results.

How these two charts might be used in support of a leadership team's commitment to developing itself.

In general, detailed versions of these two charts are most useful when working with individuals and/or groups committed to transforming their stakeholder relationships. Multiple and even multiplying benefits are possible when creatively used with the Stakeholder Lens.

One approach is to have group members give their perception of the quality of their agreements and relationships with the stakeholders in question. These ratings could be summarized in advance and then used as a basis for a group dialogue.

Useful questions for the dialogue include:
  • What is the relationship between the ratings for quality of agreements and relationships?
  • What's it worth to us to be able to shift the quality of our agreements and relationships to the next higher level?
  • What's the most generative way to engage with these stakeholders to 1) check our perceptions and 2) work together to achieve the desired shift?
Individuals committed to improving the quality of their relationships and agreements with specific others can approach them to see if they're willing to engage in an exploratory process using these charts. If willing, both parties would then reflect on and share their respective ratings. An individualized version of the above questions could be a starting point for taking that relationship to a new and more rewarding level.
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