Organisational change model LO12771

Edwin Brenegar III (
Thu, 06 Mar 1997 05:43:57 -0500 (EST)

Replying to LO12761 --

On Wed, 5 Mar 1997, Ian Saunders wrote:

> As you mention change is a part of everyday life and in that context we
> seem to cope.
> What I find helpful is having the opportunity to talk about change, as it
> affects me, those around me, my work etc.
> So if you can find ways to get people together to talk about how they are
> finding things you will probably find that helps. e.g
> 1. Lunchtime meetings
> 2. Short events will no agenda, an opportunity to talk. Probably needs
> facilitating
> 3. After hours get togethers.

I'd like to take Ian's suggestion one step further. As a result of these
more informal dialogue sessions, put a group together who will promote
more intentional dialogue by larger groups. Let me give you an example.

Our community, Asheville/Buncombe County, NC, conducted a visioning
process in 1995. The criticism of the process was that it seemed too
canned, too forced, not open enough. I'm on a task force dealing with the
second phase of this process, our focus being education. We have had a
task force meeting since late summer, early fall involving business
leaders, parents, students, teachers and administrators at the primary,
secondary and post-secondary levels, both public, private and home
schooled. Can't get much more diverse than that. Now ordinarily, this mix
would promote divisiveness and contentiousness. And that is because these
groups usually come to a task force like this to promote their own
particular agenda. They are normally asked to be advocates for their
cause in these situations, which promotes conflict rather than consensus.
Our approach has been very different.

Our task force has intentionally not sought consensus on any specific
education issue. Instead we worked to design a process which allows for
dialogue to take place by the public, allowing that discussion to generate
the positions which our group then reports to our governing board. We are
conducting a series of Student Summits today and tomorrow, March 6 & 7 in
all the public high schools, and most of the private high schools in the
community, to ask students a series of focused questions on actionable
goals for improving education. In two weeks, we will be conducting an
Education Summit which will have all the usual education suspects
reporting on education in their area, then we will have a facilitated a
two hour long break-out session of 25-30 persons each, which will ask the
same questions we asked students. Our task force will then take the
material from the discussion groups and draft our report on specific
initiatives which the community in partnership with the various education
institutions can implement.

The remarkable thing about this process is that we have found a group of
people who have the position in their institutions and the community to
dictate policy positions, who are willing to listen to the public. This
is a dramatic departure from past experience where literally the "town
fathers" spoke for the community, without really knowing what the
community thought.

After our summits are completed, I'll report back to the list on what
we've learned. My point is that it takes a core of committed people,
willing to put aside their differences in order to foster that sort of
dialogue. And just dialogue with themselves but with the broader
community, whatever that may be.

If you have any questions about how we have done this, you can email me at or call me at 704/693-0720.

"Learning To Lead, Together"

Ed Brenegar
Leadership Resources
Hendersonville NC


Edwin Brenegar III <>

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