Karen Favazza Spencer’s 3 Faces of Environments and How They Affect Work

Karen Favazza Spencer hears the echoes of the pioneering experiential learning psychologists from a hundred years ago in today’s Business Agility movement. Drawing on the wisdom of both 20th and 21st century neuroscience, Karen penned an Agile primer called “The Agile ABC Book” (http://agilekindergarten.com/store/pr…) that leverages visual cues and heuristics. Using another heuristic or two, Karen shares her approach to effecting positive change in challenging work environments. She calls it, the “three faces of environment”:

  1. Physical Environment: This is the shared space in which humans have evolved, and today this includes the virtual environment as well as physical because people work both in offices and online. Karen’s mantra for improving the physical environment: “manipulate and manifest.”
  2. Psychological Environment – Karen’s mantra here is “feedback and feelings”. To get the results you’re driving toward, “you need to make sure you put in structures … to improve communications” and creates a safe environment in which to collaborate.
  3. Process Environment, aka our story space – Karen says, “Stories are the operating systems of our minds.” Since everyone is the protagonist of their own lives, our actions are dictated by our understanding of the story as it relates to us personally: What are our roles? What are the rules? These internal stories may not be reflective of organizational intent but our interpretation governs our behavior. These rules, these head stories are often the biggest obstacles for individuals to overcome. The business also often has a narrative that is inconsistent with their stated mission, such as “we value work-life balance, but you must work 20 hours a week overtime.” Consequently, achieving clarity and buy-in on the “roles and rules” of a consistent and well understood narrative is critical to success.

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