Anthony J. Marchese, Ph.D.
Kimberly Hambrick, Ph.D.
The following is material (from PowerPoint slides) from a workshop delivered yesterday at the Faces of Leadership Service Learning Conference in Charleston, West Virginia. The goal of the two-part session was to acquaint participants with the concept of change and provide a mechanism to connect the new concepts directly to real initiatives under consideration wtihin their respective organizations.
Analyze popular conceptions of and rationales for change in light of recent developments within the field of change-management/leadership. With this foundation, begin developing a strategy to develop and implement a change process within your organization.
Introduction and Overview
Meet your Presenters
“If we don’t change our direction, we’re likely to end up where we’re headed.” Chinese Proverb
“Innovation requires a good idea, initiative, and a few good friends.“ Herb Shepard
- Understand the problematic ambiguity of “change”
- Develop an awareness of popular models of change
- Apply principles of change to a real organizational issue/need
- Through group process provide feedback and support to fellow participants about their approach
Overview of Topic
– Societal infatuation with change
– Change as a double-edged sword
– Ambiguous nature of “change”- specificity important
– Effective change initiatives require careful research, planning, buy-in, assessment, and humility.
Considering Change as Renewal
- To renew and reinterpret values that have been encrusted with hypocrisy, corroded by cynicism or simply abandoned; and to generate new values when needed
- To liberate energies that have been imprisoned by outmoded procedures and habits of thought
- To reenergize forgotten goals or to generate new goals appropriate to new circumstances
- To achieve, through science and other modes of exploration, new understandings leading to new solutions
- To foster the release of human possibilities, through education and lifelong growth
Propensity for Change
- Understanding Cognitive Maps (De Wit)
A shared understanding of the world by interacting with each other within a group over an extended period of time.
The shared cognitive map of a group is literally ‘common sense’- sense shared by a common group of people…Different behaviors, based on different cognitive maps, will often lead to the identification and codification of beliefs, either to protect them or to engage in debate with people of other views.
People tend to significantly overestimate the value of information that confirms their cognitive map, underestimate disconfirming information, and they actively seek out evidence that supports their current beliefs
Once an interpretive filter is in place, seeing is not believing, but believing is seeing. People might have the impression that they are constantly learning, but they are largely learning within the bounds of a paradigm.
When an individual’s map is supported by similar beliefs shared within a firm, industry or country, the ability to question key aspects of a paradigm will usually be rather limited.
Not only does that individual have no ‘intellectual sounding board’, for teasing out new ideas, but deviation from the dominant logic might also have adverse social and political ramifications within the group…Strategists must have the ability to challenge current beliefs and change their own mind. They must be able to come up with innovative but feasible, new strategies that will fit with the unfolding reality.
- Dangers of Organizational Solipsism (see article, “Leading Naked: The Costly Consequences of Organizational Solipsism)
– The Emperors New Clothes
– Need for accountability/confirmation
“In their work on human cognition, Maturana and Varela explain that, at any moment, what we see is most influenced by who we have decided to be. Our eyes do not simply pick up information from an outside world and relay it to our brains. Information relayed from the outside through the eye accounts for only 20 percent of what we use to create a perception. At least 80 percent of the information that the brain works with is information already in the brain. We each create our own worlds by what we choose to notice, creating a world of distinctions that make sense to us. We then “see” the world through this self we have created. Information from the external world is a minor influence. We connect who we are with selected amounts of new information to enact our particular version of reality.” (Wheatley)
What does the cognitive map of my workplace look like? To what extent does the map resonate with my own? Who, within or outside of the organization, helps us ensure that we are not perpetuating cognitive rigidity- an inability to overcome the limitations of our own cognitive maps.
Who helps us make sure that our cognitive map is grounded in truth?
Consider the relevance of understanding cognitive maps to the implementation of change.
Propensity for Change
To what extent is my organization’s culture conducive to change?
Two Popular Organizational Frameworks:
1. The Organization as a Machine
2. The Organization as an Organism
-Complex Adaptive Systems
When you think about your own organization, does it function more like a machine or an organism? What evidence exists to support your theory?
Operational vs. Strategic Change
- Operational Change: Fine-tuning, updating practices, policies, positional reassignment, etc within an existing system (maintaining).
- Strategic Change: New fit or alignment between organization and environment (renewal)
Going Deeper: Two Common Types of Change
- Revolutionary Change
- Evolutionary Change
- Seismic Shift (Organization-wide, altering cognitive maps)
- Short Term Results
- “Shock Therapy”
- “Creative Destruction”
- Continuous stream of small, incremental adjustments
- Emphasizes stability
- Long-term emphasis
- Continuous improvement, focus on long-term learning
- Often follows period of revolutionary change
Important Qualities for Change (Senge)
- They are connected with real work goals and processes
- They are connected with improving performance
- They involve people who have the power to take action regarding these goals
- They seek to balance action and reflection, connecting inquiry and experimentation
- They afford people an increased amount of ‘white space’- opportunities for people to think and reflect without pressure to make decisions
- They are intended to increase people’s capacity, individually and collectively
- They focus on learning about learning, in settings that matter
Approaches to Change
- Action Research (Problem/Issue Based)
- Appreciative Inquiry (Emphasis upon preferred future, strengths, past successes)
– The Four D Cycle
Strategies for a “Pilot Group” to Lead Change Effort (Senge)
- Pay attention to your boundaries and be strategic when crossing them
- Articulate the case for change in terms of business results
- Make executive leaders’ priorities part of your team’s creative thinking
- Experiment with cross-functional, cross-boundary teams, if you can get them sponsored by the hierarchy
- Begin at the beginning: with governing ideas
- Develop specific structures that guard against “authoritarian drift”
- Deploy new rules and regulations judiciously
- Never underestimate the power of small changes in complex situations- if they are the “right” changes
- Be prepared for a long journey and don’t embark alone
Review and Discussion
Part Two: Formulating an Action Plan
- Exploration: Identification of desired change
- Rationale: Why change is needed/important
- Readiness for Change: Extent to which organization is responsive to change (machine/organism)
- Analysis: Examining the cognitive map(s) of the organization
- Type of Change: Operational/Strategic, Revolutionary/Evolutionary
- Support: Identification of allies and strategy to increase buy-in
- Threats: Identification of resistors and strategy to mitigate resistance
- Approach: Problem-based vs. Appreciative Inquiry
- Implementation: Pilot group,etc.