One of, if not perhaps the most difficult challenges confronting managers/leaders is how to identify the organizational issue they need to "work." Metaphors—like "disease" and "symptom"—may be helpful in conceptualizing what an organizational issue is. But, metaphors are helpful only to the extent they identify what something is like because metaphors do not identify what it is (Lakoff & Johnson, 2003). Likewise, the notion of interviewing people and listening not so much to what they are saying but what they are saying about what they value would prove helpful in the work of discerning what the fundamental issue is, but only to the degree that managers/leaders are clear about why they are interviewing people in the first place (Sayles, 1979). Otherwise, these interviews may be nothing more than a series of idle or meandering conversations, as managers/leaders "manage by wandering around" (Peters & Waterman, 1982/2004) with little or no purposive rationale for doing so.
Once managers/leaders have identified the issue and formulated a path of change, it is time to consider more practical matters. With the "macro" issue that the organizational change plan is supposed to "work" now identified, managers/leaders will need to specify "micro" activities that will assist people to resolve the problems evidencing themselves in organizational dysfunction. Critical in this regard is identifying a "presenting problem." This problem is one of sufficient magnitude that, when people work it on the action board, they will clarify the issue that needs to be solved which, in turn, will enable them to resolve their problems as people engage in the self-change which is the precursor to successful organizational change.
Four "tools of change"...
McWhinney et al. (1997) offer managers/leaders four "tools of change," each of which provides several micro activities that will engage people in purpose behaviors that offer hope that they will learn how to resolve the problems emerging in the organization. Each of these four tools utilize four boards of play (i.e., worldview, values, power, action boards) while neglecting two boards of play (i.e., truth, environment boards). The reason for neglecting the latter is that most organizational problems have little if nothing to do with truth or responding to the environment. More often than not, these matters present organizational issues that managers/leaders must attend to.
The "design" tool of change uses the analytic mode and its directions to get people to work their problems through to resolution. For managers/leaders, the tool of design is essentially unitary and sensory in orientation and requires exercising power in a logical way so that the organization achieves its goals. Tasks are arranged in a meritocratic order while responsibilities, time, and resources are aligned with that meritocratic order. Although not involved directly in decision making and functioning more as referees when disputes arise so that the organizational change plan moves forward, managers/leaders select from six micro activities (design tools: Action Plan, Causing Effects, Extracting the Qualities; test tools: Affinity Diagrams, Reconciling Dilemmas, SWOTS Test) the tool or tools that will engage people in questioning or discovering those principles, truths, or theories to improve organizational functioning.
The "conversation" tool of change uses the influential mode and its directions to get people to work their problems through to conclusion. For managers/leaders, the tool of conversation utilizes the unitary and social worldviews and challenges managers/leaders to work politically to effect policies that will enable the organization to attain its goals. More patriarchal and oligarchic than the tool of design, the outcome protects the power-value status quo while allowing for radical reformation of organizational policies, that is, the way the game is played. Managers/Leaders use the tool of conversation with the objective of mediating disputes that arise with the intention of solidifying the power base around newly established or valued positions. Principles are not negotiable; processes are...as long as they are logically related to principles. Managers/leaders select from five micro activities (convert tools: Getting the Message, Scenario; persuade tools: Beyond Disruption, Pseudo Quotes; Value Synergizing) the tool or tools that will engage people in accepting or introducing values, policies, or changes to existing policies to improve organizational functioning.
The "allocative" tool of change uses the evaluative mode and its directions to get people to work their problems through to resolution. For managers/leaders, the tool of allocation utilizes the sensory and social worldviews and challenges managers/leader to allocate and align resources properly in order to optimize outcomes. When contrasted to the design and conversation tools of change, the allocative tool of change is more functionally responsive to peoples' desires as it seeks to identify "win-win" values that will be inculturated into organizational functioning. Managers/leaders select from six micro activities (value tools: Dialogue, Force Field Analysis, Stakeholder Wheel, Story Telling; allocate tools: Moving to Where It Matters, Resource Allocation) the tool or tools that will ensure an fair distribution of tasks and resources and, through shared involvement, develop group commitment to action that will improve organizational functioning.
The "evocative" tool of change uses the emergent mode and its directions to get people to work the problems. For managers/leaders, the tool of evocation uses the mythic and social worldviews and challenges managers/leaders to tap peoples' energy and skills so that they will explore solutions to organizational problems by creatively reframing those problems and, in the process, co-create shared values. Managers/leaders select from five micro activities (facilitating tools: Co-Generation, Innovation Process; evoking tools: Core of Intent; Mind Mapping; Search Conference) that will engender group commitment to an idea, image, or program symbolizing the group's values where the power resides in the idea, image, or program not in positions or people.
The tools are just that...tools...the selection and use of which are matters left to the builder's best judgment. There are no guarantees that each tool will facilitate resolving organizational problems nor are there any guarantees that people will enthusiastically embrace each tool. In some organizations, a tool or group of tools might be unusable because of the culture or managers/leaders tools might have to adapt a tool or group of tools to the organization's culture.
The metaphor of a "toolbox" might clarify the purpose and use of these tools of change.
When a builder approaches a project, the builder's toolbox contains all of the implements that the builder will use to complete the project. The wider the scope of tasks associated with a complex project requires a wider variety of tools; a less complex project requires a narrower variety of tools. The variety of tools needed to complete the project is entirely dependent upon the project's scope. And, the selection of the tools is made as the builder surveys the project's complexity.
Once managers/leaders have identified the organizational issue and selected a path of change, the four tools of change represent a panoply of options managers/leaders can choose from to engage people in purpose micro activities offering hope that, by engaging in these activities, people will improve organizational functioning by resolving their problems. As they do, the issue defined by the path of change will hopefully be solved and, as new problems arise, the cycle of issue solution and problem resolution through a path of change begins anew.
Courage and co-evolution...
Unfortunately, the certainty of success that managers/leaders would prefer to possess prior to embarking on a path of change is a pipedream. People, process, and technology converge is some many unpredictable ways on any given day that it is virtually impossible for managers/leader to know infallibly that the path selected and the tools chosen will prove themselves efficacious in solving organizational issues as people engage in purposive activities that are expressly intended to resolve organizational problems.
What managers/leaders can possess, however, is a reasonable degree of hope and optimism that the path selected will prove itself successful over time. Because organizational change is a "journey" rather than a "destination," courage is prerequisite. Naysayers will always have their say, cast aspersions, and attempt to derail anything that threatens to grasp from their clutches the "teddy bears" (Winnicott, 1958) associated with their comfortable status quo. At the first sign of potential failure, there will be those people who will attribute seeming failure to the entire path of change rather than to particular elements of it (e.g., one of the tools). As resistance rises, managers/leaders will find themselves tempted to believe they've made an erroneous decision and desire to scrap the path of change.
In this crucible, courage is needed.
But, what is courage?
It is not fear. Neither is it blind zealotry.
No, courage is located somewhere between fear and blind zealotry. Courage provides the psychic space for managers/leaders to accept their fallibility and their fear making a mistake but without allowing their fallibilty and fear to paralyze them. In addition, courage provides the psychic space where managers/leaders can be bold enough to move forward in doing what they believe is necessary but not with such so much zeal that they deny facts. The realistic view made courage makes possible is what enables managers/leaders to bear responsibility for the choices they make as well as to be responsive to the challenges and conflicts resulting from these choices. As managers/leaders embody the virtue of courage, they can build "learning organizations" (DiBella & Nevis, 1999; Senge, 1990) where managers/leaders and followers develop accords as they together resolve organizational issues and problems and, thereby, contribute to the organization's co-evolution and draw immense satisfaction form contributing meaningfully to an enterprise which is larger, represents values, and is more lasting than any of its members.
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