Table of Contents:
Introduction to Change
In chapter 3 we discussed “Change” as being caused by the tension between the current state and the desired state and that learning is instrumental to change and the effectiveness of said change. While both terms, change and learning, have very different meanings they are inexplicably tied to one another. It is this very tie that has given traction to the learning organization and development movement. The change we discuss is not just within the organization, but with the social dynamic as well. Also, as we discussed in chapter 3 perspective of the individual, the group, the organization, and society as a whole affects the dynamics of change, the tension that promotes change.
Many people may consider change as something that occurs only when something happens to cause it or when a new plan or process is enacted. However, change is always occurring even when there is no visible cause (issue or accident) or even a plan for it. Even when an action is done the same way it has always been done a change can and often occurs with the individual conducting the activity: learning, or a motivation change. These types of change are rarely captured in any instruction or guidance, but they are occurring either way. As we discussed in chapter 1 (Leadership Equation) experience is a key driver to behavior and those experiences promote or can promote change within the individual and thus the team, and furthermore the organization as a whole.
Organization Development and Change
According to the book “Organization Development, A Process of Learning and Change” by W. Warner Burke and Debra A. Noumair the earlier thinking of planned change as it pertains to the change agent, Organization Developmental
(OD) consultant and/or change agent, was of data collector, data interpreter, feedback provider, and those such times or actions  Current thought is that the OD consultant is more of a guide to help the organization with these processes.' While having an individual that is versed in the area of Organizational Development would be useful it should not be necessary as the organization itself should embody these processes. Since the role has evolved to that of facilitator for the OD consultant an individual that understands and adheres to the tenents of such thought processes as those of “The Fifth Discipline” by Peter Senge should be able to act as the OD consultant. This position would have to be properly monitored as an individual within the organization itself might bring their perspective biases to the situation. In these such instances an outside consultant should be used to negate any biases and aid in truth of reporting. Ideally, perhaps, this consultant role could be filled by the project manager. In fact, in an agile variant known as scrum, the role of scrum master serves as a consultant. Agile is a lean form of project management that is reviewed at length in later chapters. The scrum master and any project manager role can serve as the consultant. This may require adjustment, and that adjustment will either be reinforced or retarded by the organziation’s culture and at the executive level.
It is important to recognize that the organization may have some measure of politics. This is not going to change, so it is important that the person underaking the work considers this in their approach. Whether the practioner is an internal employee or a contractor from outside of the organization, there are some key steps:
■ identify key stakeholders that are instrumental in the change initiative
■ find mentor from within the organization
■ meet with the key players, especially from the political perspective
■ follow up with each individual in writing with those items important to them according to your understanding
■ map out all of the identified needs
Kurt Lewin developed a simple but effective three step model of change: unfreeze, change, freeze. In this section we will look at this model and some others and discuss how they might apply to a learning organization.
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Figure 4.1 We take care in how we identify, alter, and integrate the change to the organization.
As we alluded to in the section “What is Change” a repetitive action or task can either set the tone for change or create a pattern of habit(s) that serve little or no purpose except to stifle growth and development, i.e., change. Unfreezing in Lewin’s change model prompts people to evaluate their perspective while seeking improvement. In a nutshell current processes must be reassessed in order for change to occur.* While Lewin’s unfreezing portion of the planned change model has been the basis for several other planned change models and has withstood the test of time, we should look closer and from a learning organization perspective. Lewin used the word “reassess”; this suggests that there is a period between looking at or evaluating these processes. If an organization is truly a learning organization it is not a reassessment, but continual evaluation and when a change is implemented it would require check-points for determining if the initiative is progressing as desired and has not affected some other portion of the system unexpectedly.
In the Action Research Model, the unfreezing section is comprised of perception of the problem: enter the consultant, data collection, and some feedback.” That is not to suggest that a consultant is required or desired in this process either; however wouldn’t having someone who is familiar, the process owner or user, be more appropriate?
Another question for this model is regarding to data collection. What data collection would be done for an evaluation of change that is not already being done, and if that data is not already being collected, why not? Just about every organization collects data on their process, procedures, and project management activities. If this data is not based on determining improvements or changes, why bother collecting this data? It is true that there are times where being too close to a situation can lead to any of a number of biases; however, that does not necessarily preclude coaching from within the firm or the project. For example, we may see this bias originate due to a sense of ownership if an organization promotes development as seen in stage 3 and 4 Tribal leadership. If we understand the earlier material from the “Tribal Leadership: Leveraging natural groups to build a thriving organization,1 this bias potential can be reduced or completely negated.
In the Positive Change Model, the unfreezing section is composed of initiate the inquiry, inquire into best practices (if such a thing may exists), and some discovery of themes. This model differs for both Lewin’s change model and the action research change model in that it is based more on positive aspects of a process while the other two look for shortcomings that want, or need, to be changed. This model is based primarily on positive psychology which put emphasis on creativity, optimism, and courage, instead of the previous psychology of determining the issue(s) that required action or correction. According to Kim Cameron’s article in The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science titled Paradox in Positive Organizational Change this approach leads to effectiveness and change, but the negative emphasis has more impact. This was centered on the thought that positive occurrences are evaluated more accurately and remembered longer than negative events or actions/1'
Just as movement in a still room attracts attention, so negative (novel) events capture more attention than positive (normal) patterns. Furthermore, negative events often indicate maladaptation and a need to change, (and) one single negative thing can cause a system to fail, but one single positive thing cannot guarantee success
The positive change model parallels some of what we have been discussing about leadership and the facilitating of learning. This point is echoed by the study of highly effective teachers in K-12 public schools by Quinn, Heynoski, Thomas, and Spreitzer1 when they found the use of a positive approach was helping the teachers and students learn. Their article actually only referred to the students learning, but it has been our experience that when the positive model is employed both parties, leader (teacher) and subordinate (student), gain some knowledge from the interaction.
While there are numerous beginning steps for change, many more than those discussed, the question arises what approach is best for your organization? That question can best be answered by matching the current status of the organization to the change model and determining if it will be effective. We could review the resulting change outcome. Is it as desired? Then perhaps the first change model fits the organization? We can think of it in this manner: when a new individual joins the team how do you bring them on board? What actions are taken to help them develop and how does this help change over time? Just because a shoe fits your foot in the morning does not mean it will feel good after working all day. This thinking is necessary for continual development. This continuous self-improvement and learning is the basis for a learning organization.