organizational change

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Wheatley, Kotter, and Mourkogiannis all present systemic views of organizational change as described below. For a responsive processes view of change, based on the complexity sciences, see organization evolution for Stacey's explanation of organizational change.

Managing change in self-organizing complex systems Based on Wheatley (2005) --
Recognizing that organizations are not machines, but complex self-organizing systems, the principles and methods for effective change do not reflect the top down command and control so prevalent in organizations. Assuming organizations are inherently self-organizing and it is essential for organization members to have their freedom to be themselves, principles for change are as follows -

  • Participation of the organization members in rethinking, redesigning, and restructuring the organization is required. People involved in creating their future will make it work. People only support what they create.
  • People react to directives, they do not comply with them. The message receiver's reactions will be as diverse as the people receiving the message. Accepting this as a principle changes the expectations of what can be accomplished with communication. Partnering with people -- dealing with their reactions -- builds stronger relationships and commitment from them. People need to include themselves in how a procedure is done. Compliance without this inclusion and understanding results in procedural failures and foregoes gaining the loyalty, intelligence, and responsiveness management is seeking from the person in the first place.
  • People see the world through the lens of their worldview. Ultimately, each person's worldview is different to some degree. This leads to diverse interpretations of things and activities around us. Sharing these diverse perceptions brings about learning. Conversations, not debates or oratory, bring diverse views to light. This diversity of knowledge produces a more complete understanding from which decisions are made..
  • A systems health improves the more interconnections there are between the parts of the system. This is true between part of an organization or between the organization and other organizations. Interconnectedness brings about cooperation to improve. This approach to improving the health of a system takes advantage of double loop learning, the ability of a system to improve itself. The leader's role is to connect the parts to bring about the health of the organization.

A leader's role in this approach to change is much different than command and control. See self-organization.

A note on values: Wheatley (2005, pg 92) said that people can agree to productively go forward without having ""identical values"". I agree with that as stated. But common values - beliefs of what is true held in common -- are at the core of aligning to achieve a mission. Ideas can be discussed, debated, and modified. Differences in beliefs of what is true and right are difficult if not impossible to overcome to align people towards a common purpose. They must at least share the belief in the mission.

John Kotter's eight stage community building and change process Kotter, (1996) --
1 - establishing a sense of urgency
2 - creating a guiding coalition
3 - developing a vision and strategy
4 - communicating the change vision
5 - empowering employees for broad based action
6 - generate short-term wins
7 - consolidating gains and producing more change
8 - anchoring new approaches in culture

Nikos Mourkogiannis' view on community, change, and purpose -- Mourkogiannis (2005, pp161 - 162)
Mourkogiannis asks apropos questions regarding change - ""Why should anyone care about 'the vision' the CEO or the top team produces? Why should people commit to sacrifices to achieve that vision? How is it that people can come to believe in the aims of the company so strongly that it actually influences what they do day to day and gives them the energy to perform?""

More is required than having people understand the vision - far more than communicate, communicate, communicate. People are not spontaneously motivated by the prospective success of the organization. They do not see organization success as their own success. And the CEO generated vision will not carry them through the sacrifices they will need to make to achieve the vision.

But an organization with a meaningful purpose forms a community of purpose - a community of people drawn to the purpose. Purpose motivates people - they will make sacrifices in pursuit of a purpose they identify with.

Purpose is decided upon. This decision comes from a process of discovery. There are two constraints to what is discovered - 1) the purpose must fit the moral ideas of those the team hopes will join the community of purpose, and 2)support an achievable strategic position that will generate wealth.