Willingness to Change LO5871

Dave Birren, MB-5, 608-267-2442 (BIRRED@dnr.state.wi.us)
Tue, 27 Feb 1996 09:55 CST

Replying to LO5851 -- was Shape of the Org Chart

Replying to Jan Lelie in Shape of the Org Chart LO5851 (a conversation
with John Zavacki, et al.):

John commented:

> IF you don't want to do it right, don't get people's hopes up.

and Jan replied:

>... Why i come back to you is to find out how we might establish a quick way
>to probe the willingness of an organization to change. Time and time again i
>run into managers and directors who say they want to change, but when it comes
>to action, they try to back off, find excuses, start to develop new lines of
>reasoning, agree with you without accepting the consequences, become afraid
>and one time even got aggressive...
>... i believe that learning can only take place, when you want to do it out of
>free choice. But how to see/listen through a complete and convincing set of
>white lies?

I'm wrestling with the same issues in my agency's reorganization. In
thinking about redesigning our work planning system, I asked the question
"Why?" five times and came to the astounding realization that we, in this
public sector organization, are unwilling to change the ways we do things
because the current management system appeals to the values of our
customers (in our case, taxpayers and legislators). They want everything,
so we try to give it to them. When we make judgments about priorities and
try to drop the low-priority work, we're told we have to keep doing it.
So why bother trying to change?

This is a specific example, and it's admittedly the product of a limited
amount of analysis. But it points out the possibility that the underlying
reason for resistance to change could have nothing to do with the honesty
of management or even their awareness of their own values. It could have
everything to do with management's simple lack of awareness of the values
that *really* drive the organiation and how dependent they are on those

Food for thought.... eat well.


David E. Birren Phone: (608)267-2442
Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources Fax: (608)267-3579
Bureau of Management & Budget E-mail: birred@dnr.state.wi.us

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be
to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
(from T. S. Eliot's "Little Gidding")


BIRRED@dnr.state.wi.us (Dave Birren, MB-5, 608-267-2442)

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>