"The company as machine-model fits how people think about and operate conventional companies. And
of course, it fits how people think about changing conventional companies; You have a broken company,
and you need to change it, to fix it. You hire a mechanic, who trades out old parts that are broken and
brings in new parts that are going to fix the machine. That's why we need "change agents" and leaders
who can "drive change".
But go back and consider all of the evidence that says that most change effort aren't very successful.
Here is our first plausible explanation: Companies are actually living organisms, not machines. That
might explain why it's so difficult for us to succeed in our efforts to produce change. Perhaps treating
companies like machines keeps them from changing, or makes changing them much more difficult. We
keep bringing in mechanics - when what we need are gardeners. We keep trying to drive change - when
what we need to do is cultivate change. Surprisingly, this mechanical mind-set can afflict those who seek
"humane" changes through "learning organizations" just as much as it can afflict those who drive more
traditional changes, such as mergers and reorganizations.
The easiest way to see this is to look at our interpersonal relationships. In our ordinary experiences with
other people, we know that approaching each other in a machinelike way gets us into trouble, We know
that the process of changing a relationship is a lot more complicated than the process of changing a flat
tire on your car. It requires a willingness to change. It requires a sense of openness, a sense of
reciprocity, even a kind of vulnerability. You must be willing to be influenced by another person. You
don't have to be willing to be influenced by your damn car! A relationship with a machine is
fundamentally a different kind of relationship: It is perfectly appropriate to feel that if it doesn't work, you
should fix it. But we get into real trouble whenever we try to "fix people".
We know how to create and nurture close friendships or family relationships. But when we enter the
realm of the organization, we're not sure which domain to invoke. Should we evoke the domain of the
machine? After all, much of our daily life is about interacting with computers, tape recorders,
automobiles, and ATMs. Or should we evoke the domain of living systems - because a lot of our daily life
is about interacting with family, friends and colleagues?"
Peter shared these in an interview right after he published "The Dance of Change" in 1999, a beautiful book to
think about change like a dance (slow, steady, sustainable and then build up together to a burst of joy) rather
than staccato (sung in short burst of notes - does that not reflect most change initiatives we know?). Howwe
move from systematic interventions to systemic ones. The book came out at a time when many organizations
were at the height of feeling the lowest ebb with this work (pardon the oxymoron). This was happening in many
parts of the world. That's how it felt right back then.
It feels while Peter's words continue to be relevant today, I've seen a gradual awareness by those leading the
work and have understood what these mean, enjoy a much better relationship with this work. One distinct
difference I see is, those involved noticing this work is as much about changes in personal results (inner work)
as much as, if not more than business results. The biggest shifts in business results happen when the former
So, it is possible!
On page 54 of the book, Peter describes the "growth processes of profound change" needed to set this work
into motion. Do check it up!
Hope you enjoy this. Do feel free to pass this on to anyone you think would like to hear about these.
2008 LOPN NEWS!
Click here for details. They share tools that help you to make sense of realities as you see here in the NewsFlash.
2008 COMMUNITY EVENTS AND CONFERENCES:
2008 GLOBAL SOCIETY FOR ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING (SoL) AND RELATED GROUPS
|SOCIETY FOR ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING (SoL Global) DATES:|
"For a long time I had felt like a mouse on a corporate treadmill and I was curious to find out how the
programmes was going to provide me with some new insights and fresh perspectives. As the days
unfolded, I thought the program was pleasant, relaxing and a good opportunity to recharge the
battery. It wasn't until I came home, however, when it suddenly dawned on me that I had subtly
changed. It was as if in this moment of stillness in Vermont, I had changed a lens on my mental
camera and was looking at the world in a different way. As if in a moment of connection with life and
the universe, I finally understood that our greatest power to change the world lies in our power to
see beyond the veil."
- Recent Participant
"Enhancing our capacity for generative conversation, especially in dealing with highly contentious issues, is vital in
building learning organizations. The work of Action Design is an essential foundation in building this capacity."
- Peter Senge, Society for Organizational Learning.
"The Action Design Institute is among the most powerful developmental experiences I've had in my career. I now
have tools and approaches to help me understand dilemmas, appreciate the perspective of others and know how
to help when the conversation appears stuck. - Global Quality Manager, BP Solar. .... "I really enjoyed the Action
Design workshops when I took them but I also noticed that they had a 'time release' quality in my life. It's been a
gradual process but I have actually caught myself seeing things very differently." - An Organizational Development
|Mar 3, 2008 (Mon)