Plenary Discussion 2

Breaking the Code of Change II, Rotman School of Management, August 2-3, 2000

These participant's notes were created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker's presentation(s) and comments from the audience. These should not be viewed as official transcripts of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. These notes have been contributed by David Ing ( at the IBM Advanced Business Institute (

Roger Martin

What we heard.

Big focus on choices, with features:

Some of these features involve fear, fear-producing.

Fear --> choice:

All of this operates within a context:

Hillary: Avoid / simplify / conceal feels like Model 1. Artistry / creative is model 2.

Circle then becomes joy (as opposite to fear)

Russ: At the theory level, we're very close. At the level of practice, there's a lot of difference.

Mike Beer: Each of us has different entry into the client. It the only way to converge to jointly enter a client?

Terry: Is the consulting industry converging? [Replies, yes or no].

Mike M.: Aristotelian distinction: process, procedure and product.

Harvey: P models go to higher levels, and more complex models go lower down. Where do you want to spend your resources on the next time you move? It was strategy and change last time, and now it's just shifting to change.

Allan: At the center is an elephant that we've all mucked around with, some coming with external context and some not. There are some good things and bad things. We could try: What is it about the way you come to an organization that makes it come out different?

Larry: Robert challenged us about whether fear is the primary challenge? Maybe it should be progress - pleasure (instead of no pain - no gain). Own practice: to contain anxiety.

Where from here?

David Miron: Nitin and Michael's handle on E and O. Mike Porter's OE and S. Can get past the silent killers. What's possible over the next couple of years. One possibility to build on this model, as well as focusing on the "joy" side of things. Clients are changing and customers are changing. If we've moved beyond fear, can look at what the practices are. Everyone is doing about the same, people are differentiating on reputation and people.

Ron: From Code of Change #1, everyone voted on a joint client, but it didn't happen.

Chris Argyris: Working with Russ Ackoff. Two clients thought it would be a big problem. One client is interested in working on this. Impressed at how often he was blocked in learning. e.g. there's no difference between what Chris was saying, and someone else, but didn't know. Shouldn't go offline, should be where the conference starts. Some people should prepare for what Chris doesn't understand. First conference didn't do this.

Jim: Do we observe convergence in the models, theories or practices around strategic change? Still a reasonable degree of divergence? Would convergence be a good thing? What if convergence was not a good thing? Would cracking the code of change really be a good thing?

Mike Beer: We're all working on the same body. However, there are different physicians, e.g. psychology, cardiology. However, when they work together, they collaborate on an understanding. Convergence is working on a common body. Need to understand how different perspectives or interventions work? What sequence? What nature of collaboration?

Harvey: Who wants to be the surgeon?

Larry: Is it possible to imagine a conference, where two individuals have done a consultation (of one day or six months), and bring a report. This would make a case course. Or could bring the client's team.

Roger: Or just have Ron go to a Mark project and Mark go to a Ron conference.

Terry: Can we do some part academic? In his career, haven't done a consultation, and haven't done a case.

Hillary: Can look to see if anyone has changed the other person's approach or practice.

Harvey: In STS roundtables, had some people go to companies, then had companies come to people, some cases, some papers.

Comment: Convergence / divergence. We know that process orientation is interesting, but we tend to be caught up in structural perspectives. However, we know that processes are valuable unless you want to go to a specific aim. Some changes wouldn't be different if you differentiated by cost and revenues. Example hypothesis: Mike Jensen's necessary of a process perspective. Could also talk about death.

Mike M.: If languages don't match, perhaps we can't craft a language to map across them.

Allan: We're caught up in possibilities. Either we want to create the contingency model or matrix. Or we want to pair with people working at different parts of the spectrum.

Roger: It's a local option.

Mike Beer: Interim step is local option. We need to think of the next Breaking the Code conference be more coherent. Suggest a case, where the actors are here.

Harvey: Find a local organization, where everybody comes into the same case.

Russell: Conference means everyone takes something away. But "Breaking the Code" suggests that an aspiration.

Roger: We've made some progress on causal models. Causal models aren't yet good enough. The quest for good causal models is a good quest.

Robert: Is this group of people capable of creating a strategy? This is what we ask our clients to do.

Edie: How about four or five pairs of consultants, then could compare different collaborations, looking for conflict or resolution across pairs. Does involve getting one company getting a lot of different fingers getting stuck in.

Allan: Only difference is between people who solve the problem with consultants, and those who solve themselves.

Mike Beer: Other bifurcation is that there's an effort to change with internal forces, and those changes driven by the environment, which are much larger changes. Sealed Air case -- pseudo markets. Other people could work on hierarchies.



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