• Teri Christian

Diversity & Inclusion: Part 2 Remove Oppression to Compete

Open systems, such as DigOps, require the organization to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion. Unfortunately, most organizations have built exclusive, oppressive systems into their operating models, which is the enemy of inclusion. Systems that are strategically positioned in oppressive ways of working cannot be inclusive, and inclusivity is a natural necessity for leveraging the DigOps model.


There are 4 I's of Oppression documented in a white paper by The Grass Roots Funding Journal. To summarize, Ideological Oppression stems from a core belief that one group is better than another based on various cultural values.


These beliefs go beyond even the obvious biases of race, gender, and socio-economic position. Usually, unknowingly, closed systems are founded in this belief and behaviors. The core belief that certain groups have a right to control others drives the behaviors related to Institutional, Interpersonal, and Internalized oppression.



Traditional vs. Digital Operating models – Actions and Behaviors


Traditional Operating models use exclusion to support Institutional oppression. The system is built to support systemic control in silos and discourages working together to understand and deliver desired results. Why is this popular?


It is often because the leaders in the organization cannot clearly articulate the desired results and vision. In this case, the organization is in fear, people are unsure and unclear. This causes actions and behaviors that defend rather than include.

It is easy to identify operating models built on Institutional Oppression.


Here are some of the attributes:

  1. Projects are funded to solve problems with no fundamental understanding of measurable desired results or vision.

  2. Problems are supposed to be solved, with no accurate understanding of what needs to be done across teams/areas/divisions.

  3. People are not allowed or given access to leaders to further define desired results.

  4. Leaders responsible for delivering solutions rarely form a team of teams who develop a strategy, process, and measures of successful delivery.

  5. The blame game is invoked whenever there are issues.

  6. Delivery teams race blindly to deadlines because they have no other measure for success, and lack of clarity makes "time to market" the only business driver.

  7. Leaders and delivery teams continue patterns that do not achieve valid customer results across the organization, rarely reviewing and learning to understand better ways.

Lack of precise desired results and vision cements Institutional oppression and means the entire organization will waste time and money and damage people's safety and morale because leaders do not create clarity.


Lack of clarity forces enterprise delivery leaders to use Interpersonal oppression to push down very direct orders related to dates and timelines. While delivery teams are constrained to a cog in a wheel thinking focused on delivering as directed.


With these oppressive behaviors in place, people get the message that they are not important, their ideas are not valued, and they tend to internalize the oppressive behaviors. They will not be brave or try to participate as it is not encouraged and could be painful.


Organizations founded in these forms of oppression can never leverage the DigOps model necessary to deliver results to compete in an Industry 4.0 economy.


What kind of organization do you belong to? Oppression leads to an inability to act on emergent needs, which can cripple a company in today's digital era. To compete, the organization must create inclusive organizations by removing oppressive barriers.


In the next installment of this three-part series, we will explore how organizations can move to an open, inclusive DigOps model.

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