The following is a link to a PDF collection of blog posts, articles and an interview produced between 2014 and 2016.
When I started to explore the topic of peloton formations, I was involved in a change programme in an organisation that seemed stuck; weighed down by process, bureaucracy and deference to hierarchy. At the same time, I had joined different communities and online conversations where the possibility and opportunity for doing things differently were being discussed on a daily basis.
My interest in road cycling became a lens through which I looked at these alternative practices but also provided a useful metaphor with which I could translate and communicate ideas to colleagues.
This is the idea in a nutshell:
The world needs responsive organisations. Companies that are agile and adaptive, responding to changes in context and circumstances.
In professional cycling, the peloton is fluid. It moves towards its destination with common purpose. Yet roles shift within the peloton as a whole, and within each team, dependent on terrain, conditions and the individual cyclists themselves.
Each team will have slightly different objectives on each day of racing. This affects the roles each rider takes on. Sometimes they will lead. On other occasions, they will be in service of their teammates.
As in a hierarchical company, the roles may largely stay the same, but the riders in the peloton move fluidly from one role to another rather than being constrained by a single one. They are leaders, followers, technical experts. They are climbers, sprinters, rouleurs, puncheurs and baroudeurs.
This is network working. Your node lights up and people, energy, ideas and leadership responsibilities flow to you. Then another node lights up, and you take on a different role in service of the goals of this other node. The network remains a hierarchy, but it is one in a constant state of flux.
The various pieces in the PDF collection walk around the topic, zooming in and out, unpicking the metaphor and examining the various figures and roles within the peloton. They include:
The apprentice’s craft
Ready to jump