Willingness to Change LO6015

Michael McMaster (Michael@kbddean.demon.co.uk)
Wed, 6 Mar 1996 19:34:46 +0000

Replying to LO5994 --

The really wonderful response from Scott provides some indications
that we are not seeing organisations as composite complex adaptive
phenomena - or intelligent ones to keep it simple - that are emergent
from the interplay of those participating. This is to contrast a
view of a corporation as a "thing" with people running it (the
production machinery) with a view of a corporation as having an
existence or "being" of its own.

(As I've said before, I think one of our problems in dealing with
organisational issues is that we call our corporations organisations
and then find it difficult to have a word to deal with the phenomenon
of organisation - hence my attempt to use different words here.)

Here's some thoughts triggered by Scott's words (I am using this for
the value in the dialogue rather than to critisize the metaphor
which, if stretched too far will always break):

> I don't think it is possible for everyone to have a clear view of
> the front. Organizations are not _really_ like a flock of geese

Right. I know where the "front" of a flying flock of geese is by looking -
but where is the "front" of an organisation. It is not going so
clearly in a direction and having a vision or mission won't help this
analogy. Even if the organisational direction is well known and
understood, it will still not provide a "front" in the sense that the
flying flock has.

> -- the organization must produce/distribute something and
> everybody cannot share the lead and maintain a continous view of
> the front. We need wagon pushers, too, and they will have a
> limited view.

There is no position, person or group which does not have a "limited
view". They all have different views based on location, time,
action, connections, and beginning (historical) orientation. There
are no specialists that have a uniquely "unlimited" view of the whole
- or even all of the necessary information for their own specialty.

> Yet we can certainly keep people informed.

No. We can't keep people informed. At best we can make information
available. The full information might exist in a distributed way and
even an integrated way - but never as a whole and complete. A posted
mission statement has not proved itself in any company I've heard
about nor been in. Occasionally, it might have helped.

> We can do other things, too, because we have to keep them
> (all of us, actually) motivated to push forward.

For almost everyone, the best we can do to eliminate the profound
underlying "us/them" which is a result of current organisational
paradigms AND a continuing cause of their maintenance is this
*afterthought* that it's us and there is no "them" to motivate. (But
few of us believe this in our heart of hearts - or else our language
is awfully sloppy.)

> People can have a voice, too. They need that. My experience is
> that Pullers are not inclined to listen well, as a general rule.

There's nothing unique about the Pullers (bad choice of metaphorical
language - except it fits the one begun with the wagon) when it comes
to listening. Human beings are terrible at listening. The Pushers
are not eager and open listeners to what the Pullers are saying.

> So, as Julie observed, they really do need to integrate their view
> of things with the view at the front and get at least some
> *alignment* of goals, like geese more than starlings!

Maybe it isn't alignment of goals that we need nearly som much as
alignment of mechanisms and lots of communication. My own experience
in interviews and in workshops large or small is that there is
incredible alignment but that people don't know it. They understand
the business in the same ways, they pretty much share where it's
going and they are aligned on what the point of it all is - in
generall but sufficiently broad ways. Their actions and
conversations are far less aligned than the revealed commonality
indicates, in my experience.

And now, here's my challenge. You don't have time nor the luxury to
"put it up on blocks" nor is that required. You need to change the
tires while the car is driving. My challenge is to take that idea
seriously and see how you would do it. Metaphorically first (ie.
with a car) and then analogically with an organisation.

One of the keys to resolve the double bind of organisation but no
authority is to really get that we are dealing with a distributed
phenomenon where there is only what emerges from the interplay of the
participants. This is a far cry from "getting the most from our
people" or "communicating so that they will feel included" or other
such trivial and manipulative stuff. (I'm not accusing Scott of
this, by the way. His "four principles" indicate something far more
powerful and his plea for "not fear" reveal his heart.)

> My model of Change involves four simple factors:
> * The current level of discomfort with the way things are
> (not FEAR, please!)
> * The attractiveness of the vision of the future
> * The individual or group's previous success with change
> * The peer or group support for the effort

One last thing.
> But let us not be foolish. I left out another important group.
> All around us are Spectator Sheep -- you know, the ones who aren't
> involved in the effort and who go, "Naaaaa. Baaaaa." whenever we
> propose new ideas or suggestions for improvement. But that's
> another story in itself.

This is a statement that applies in spades to executives and
managers. There are few of these as groups or individuals who do not
exhibit the exact same behaviour and often worse and often with much
less justifaction. The major difference is that they get to propose
and therefore experience (as personal) the reaction from the rest.
They, however, exhibit the same behaviour to ideas that they didn't
propose whether from those "below" or those "outside" or their
fellows that they do not agree with.

Scott, this was truly a rich posting of your, I love the spirit in
which is was written and I hope to hear much more from you. As you
say, "Fore the Phun of it."

Michael McMaster : Michael@kbddean.demon.co.uk
book cafe site : http://www.vision-nest.com/BTBookCafe
Intelligence is the underlying organisational principle
of the universe. Heraclitus


Michael McMaster <Michael@kbddean.demon.co.uk>

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