Trying to make sense of Rightshifting

2 min read

I’ve been learning about Rightshifting of late and am finding the mental models used difficult to imagine. This led me to think about how I could redefine them so they made more sense to me.

However first up let me briefly surmise what Rightshifting is.

If you haven’t got time to look at these links now, skip forward, but they do a much better job than I will of explaining!

Rightshifting is a word coined by Bob Marshall, here’s his post explaining it.

In addition there is also the Marshall model, here is the explanation:

Basically Rightshifting is based on the premise that an effective knowledge work organisation is a function of the mindeset of the organisation.

There are 4 basic mindsets in terms of organisational effectiveness:

  1. Adhoc
  2. Mechanistic/Analytic (these terms seem to be used interchangeably in the Rightshifting community)
  3. Synergistic
  4. Chaordic (if you’re interested in where the word chaordic came from, see this book: )

It is then suggested that the closer to Chaordic you get the more effective the organisation is. However most organisations are stuck at the analytic stage. Hence the need to right shift organisations.

Here’s Bob Marshal’s diagram of the Marshall model, taken from the above blog post:

Rightshifting diagram

Note the red transition points, denoting how hard it is to break through into a new organisational mindset.

What I really struggled (am struggling!) to understand was what the different organisational mindsets really meant.

So I wrote down some words that might be used to describe the different stages:

  • Adhoc: Cowboy, messy, chaos, creation
  • Mechanistic: Process, tools, rules, methods, control
  • Synergistic: Learning, flow, empowered, value
  • Chaordic: Opportunistic, come together, mushroom, sharing

As you can see by the words, the adhoc organisation sounds like an early start up. The mechanistic sounds like most businesses! Synergistic sounds like an Agile or Lean organisation and Chaordic sounds more like an open source community.

I then thought further and came up with these definitions, to help me map it to my understanding:

  • Adhoc: Finding value
  • Mechanistic: Building value
  • Synergistic: Flowing value
  • Chaordic: Enabling value

Take a look at Rightshifting, if you haven’t already, and let me know what you think about my definitions of the various organisational mindsets and if you think they are a useful or helpful way of describing them.

More Rightshifting posts:


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