Willingness to Change LO6085

Tue, 12 Mar 1996 07:10:38 -0800

Replying to LO6015 & LO5994 --

Both Michael and Scott are talking about the "Willingness to Change" in
organizations (corporations, . . . or whatever).

Scott says:
> 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

Michael responds:
>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.

Scott Says:
> -- 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.

And Michael replys:
>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.

I want to talk about these ideas, but in a slightly different direction.
We have been talking about 'pushers', 'square wheels' and 'flocks of
geese' and these metaphores are helpful for us to understand certain
general frames. But if we continue to stay at the overview level, we will
miss some rich details which are often important to develop the
understandings and the interventions we want.

For instance, on one of the scales I work with, those who score high are
compulsive about generating alternatives (and they have difficulty
following procedures). On the other end of that same scale are people who
are compulsive about following procedures (but they cannot make new
procedures). The scale is my 'Alternatives' scale.

My experience is that 'pushers' tend to be 'Low Alternatives'. This means
that they are comfortable following procedures (turning out the product or
service widget the same way, every time), but might not notice that the
marketplace or the technology has changed and the procedure needs to be
'tweeked' to maintain optimum position in the market. People who are 'Low
Alternatives' are concerned about "HOW".

The 'puller' tends to be 'High Alternatives'. This means that when they
see that the marketplace or the technology has changed, they can tweek the
procedure for the 'pushers'. People who are 'High Alternatives' are
concerned about "WHY".

Functional problems arise when a 'puller' is 'Low Alternatives'. They do
not tweek the procedures as needed (to account for the changes in
marketplace or technology) and the old procedures take the production
(maybe on a straight line, but) away from the optimum market position
(because something changed).

Other problems are often discovered:

a) 'pushers' are 'High Alternatives': this leads to variable
product/service quality and reduced production.
b) 'pullers' are too compulsive about changing the procedures and this also
leads to variable product/service quality and reduced production.

Communication difficulties arise when: you try to communicate "WHY"
information to a 'Low Alternatives' person. Your communication is heard as
a series of "Bla, bla, bla, bla." It is like word salad to them. It is
like sending FORTRAN computer code to a BASIC interpreter; it cannot be
processed without a lot of ERRORs. They can only process "HOW" information
and all the "WHY" content is meaningless. In other words, the 'pusher'
(here, I'm making the assumption that the 'pusher' is 'Low Alternatives',
because this is common in most well-functioning operations, FME) does not
really want to know "why" the procedure is tweeked, they just want to know
how to do the new procedure.

Scot said:
> Yet we can certainly keep people informed.

And Michael responded:
>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.

Maybe the problem about 'informed' and making information available is to
put the information __"in" the "form"__ that the person is most likely to
absorb (in their own way, of course). And this might not be in the form
that *we* would like to receive it, or in which we think it needs to go

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

Motivation is a very interesting beast and it is based on many individual
factors. [The 'Alternatives' scale is only one of 40 that I work with and
most of the others also have a piece of a "motivation" tied up in it, so
the following is only a small piece of "motivation".]

A person who is 'High Alternatives' is motivated by the possibility to
generate alternatives. When they are 'blue sky-ing', they are getting
'high' on their own endorphins and this is a 'high' that they want to
continue. When they do not have this possibility to generate those kinds
of alternatives (that 'high'), they get a little depressed as part of
their 'drug withdrawal symptoms'.

A person who is 'Low Alternatives' is motivated by knowing a procedure
they can perform and they are motivated to get to the end of the
procedure. The chemical basis for this behavior is adrenalin. Not the
surges we get in fright/flight situations, but a slmall steady flow which
provides an energy that supports the steady operation of the procedure (a
certain "rightness" about _how_ they are doing the task). They too, feel
at a loss when their 'drug' is withdrawn; they get _stuck_ when they don't
have a procedure to follow, or they cannot follow the one they know.

Michael said:
>Maybe it isn't alignment of goals that we need nearly so much as
>alignment of mechanisms and lots of communication.

I agree! Maybe here is where respect and collaboration *really* comes in.
People on two different ends of the 'Alternatives' scale will not (and
*really* can not) act and think alike. They will not be motivated by the
same words, they will not be motivated the same by a goal or mission
statement; their brains simply do not process the information in the same

When the 'High Alternatives - puller' begins to respect the 'Low
Alternatives - pusher', maybe we can have the basis for a collaboration
that is fruitful for all.

We need to keep remembering that whatever we think 'they' should learn/do
is colored by our own patterns. 'They' might not be able to learn/do what
we have in our mind.

Bailey's 2nd rule: "All money in business is made by following

ALSO, IMHO Other's 'willingness to change' is directly related to our
ability to communicate with them 'in' the 'form' which they receive &


Rodger Bailey rcbailey@alfa.adinet.com.uy

Designing and Auditing Interventions

Using the LAB Profile System: - for Understanding, Predicting, and Influencing - the Thinking and Behavior - of Individuals, Organizations, and Cultures

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