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Making Sense of Organizational Change Allowing Order to
Emerge from Paradoxical Tensions -- Asaf Zohar, July 9, 2003
47th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS), Hersonissos, Crete, July 9, 2002.
July 9, 2003, 5:30 p.m., Special Integration Group on Organizational Transformation and Social Change
This digest was 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the IBM Advanced Business Institute ( http://www.ibm.com/abi ).
Came here to hear stories.
Can we understand change?
What makes change a transformative experience?
What makes people commit to change?
Non-profit organization: top-down, want greater
Start with force field analysis: what is driving change, and what is
holding back change?
Two columns, forces for change, and forces against
For change: vision
For change: external environment, pressures -- key funders, United
Way; change in public attitudes, want more results.
Managers make progress, and then have "yeah, but", and take two steps
back, and they do nothing.
Against change: team non-action, reasons that things won't
Against change: internal resistance
Want to find some way to increase those for change, and reduce those against
As an icebreaker, have 12 directors stand up to hold a wake for the old organization:
wish them well, so that they can get on.
CFO, in the middle of the eulogy, starts crying: said the outgoing executive
director made him feel second-best.
Every single manager had stories about the outgoing executive director
who had paralyzed the team.
This was held as a secret.
All of 12 executives felt that they were second-best, and everyone else
was plotting against them.
A shared system of meaning that wasn't in the above -- the surface
The things that matter, they called the deep structure.
Against change: sibling rivalry, called themselves abused, in a
For change: needed to develop an adult identity
We can spend a lot of time in analysis in things that seem reasonable,
but they are not at the root of what is going on, in a complex system in human
Shared systems of meaning that we don't even know we share.
Meaningful change, as fundamental change, shifting in core identities is
at the deep structure level.
Didn't move this at the surface level, for 4 months.
Have to go to the bedrock, with the surface structures as
Can't play just one side of the equation.
Internal resistance for change was not a bad
thing: needed to preserve identity.
Need to create a context to drive change.
Question: On paradoxes?
Charles Hampden-Turner, needing to hold both horns of a bull (or getting gored on one horn).
Lots of things at personal level, trying to take this up to the
Question: From here to precise questions or
Question: Psychoanalysis of the institition?
Had no idea that he was going there. This was an icebreaker
exercise, and became very uncomfortable.
Don't have the right to take people there.
Question: Elements and processes of deep
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