An end to change?

Awesome reflection about change by Wendy Farmer-O’Neil entitled Change is dead:

I am proposing that the ever-emergent flow is all there is. Take that into your body for a moment and see if there is a different response.

And how do we respond to that? With self-organization, like we always have. Like there was ever anything else. Only now, we can choose to do it consciously. We can choose to learn and create processes that leverage the power of emergence, of context, of relationship, of questions. So let go of change. It is a concept that no longer serves us or our organizations. It locks us in a jail of false hope and is creating increasingly disastrous consequences. We are simply in the flow of the ever-emergent. We shape our present and future through our collective intention. Might as well step up and start taking responsibility for what you care about and see who else shows up.

Emphasis mine, HT @hnauheimer for sharing.

Can we direct slow unconscious change processes?

In his TED talk, Seth Godin defines change leaders as heretics looking at the status quo and deciding that it is not for them. He is talking about consciously choosing to change something and doing it.

There is also another type of change that happens without realizing it, sometimes without wanting it.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Inhotim, a contemporary art museum and beautiful garden. If you ever are near Belo Horizonte, do visit this small park, it is amazing!

To be honest I am not a big fan of contemporary art, but one of the art pieces there that spoke to me was Samson (1985) by Chris Burden.

Samson (1985) by Chris Burden

Samson (1985) by Chris Burden

From the explanatory sign:

Samson (1985) consists of a 100 ton jack connected to a gear box and a turnstile. The jack pushes two large timbers against the walls of the gallery. Each visitor to the exhibition must pass through the turnstile and each input on the turnstile ever so slightly expands the jack, and ultimately, if enough people visit the exhibition, Samson (1985) could, theoretically, destroy the building. (…) The institutional critique in Samson (1985) is brutal and subtle simultaneously: by forcing spectators to pass through the turnstile in order to satisfy their curiosity, Burden assigns them equal culpability in the potential destruction of the gallery space.

A couple of parallels from life outside the museum come to mind immediately: we are slowly destroying our basis of living. It is not the single act of driving 500 meters to get milk or buying a new cellphone every 6 months, but the sum of all these small things that add up to destroy the natural resources we depend on.

Another example is social media: Tweet by tweet, share by share, wall comment by wall comment, digg by digg, we are changing the way we communicate and work with each other and this already has profound implications for the way organizations and governments work, hire, and communicate.

Can Seth’s heretics give this unconscious change direction so we create value for each other instead of destroying it? What do you think?

RTVC Workshop and New Post on WebTastings

We just finished the Realtime Virtual Collaboration Workshop. It was a great experience and though it initially seemed very chaotic, turned into some fruitful conversation. Kudos to the participants for self-organizing so well. We will definitely share summaries and lessons learned.

On a related note, I just posted a new post to WebTastings about the lessons we learned from social reporting of a Conference on Rights and Climate Change.

Realtime virtual collaboration for change

I recently joined a group of change facilitators and social media enthusiasts in organizing an online conference on the question What tools and principles do we need to help change to unfold? Social and technological development as means for better organizations, and a better world:

The development of the World Wide Web as a tool for global connectivity has given rise to a participatory culture, opening new possibilities for communication and collaboration to effect and facilitate change.

There are plenty of examples that show the ease with which people actually link up with each other and coordinate complex projects as well as social and political change, including the wikipedia, coordination of aid efforts after natural disasters such as fires, and earthquakes through twitter or tools such as ushahidi, but also recent events such as the “Moldava Twitter Revolution”.

These tools, also called social media, are complementing an already existing large toolbox of methods for facilitation of whole systems change such as Open Space Technology, Appreciative Inquiry, Theory U, just to name a few. All these tools are means to an end, which is to change organizations, societies, or communities.

The conference will discuss how the different tools available can be used to foster collaboration that goes beyond mere sharing of information to create action. How can we combine social media tools with real time facilitation to address the essential questions and challenges arising in organizational and social change? Which tools support which kind of collaboration needs? What are the underlying principles that need to be observed to ensure that collaboration effects change?

Go to the Change Management Toolbook to register and to find out how to participate. Another way to get news and follow the conference is to tune into twitter hashtag #rtvc.

Overcoming ‘territorial’ management

The Economist published a review of a forthcoming book by Morten Hansen on collaboration, which talks about the pitfalls and challenges of creating cross-unit collaboration in an organization. This is espacially true when the organization is sectorized and different parts feel themselves in competition to each other, when it has a lot of – what Hansen calls – territorial managers.

Another voice that emphasizes that for any mainstreaming initiative, in this case mainstreaming of a collaborative culture, you not only need a critical mass of people that work differently, but also signs and incentives (and in some cases pushing) from the top to show that working differently is wanted by the organization’s leadership.

Enterprise of the future embraces change. Are we?

Holger Nauheimer is asking a set of interesting questions about the shifting requirements for change facilitators in view of a new IBM report about the enterprise of the future. The characteristics of the future enterprise are, in my mind, very encouraging and can be summarized as embracing complexity and change and seeing opportunity instead of impossible challenge. One of these characteristics I find particularly interesting:

Genuine not Generous: The Enterprise of the Future goes beyond philanthropy and compliance and reflects genuine concern for society in all actions and decisions.

Holger’s questions are:

Are we ready to guide our clients into that future? Do we have the skills, attitudes, knowledge, tools? Do our consulting organizations work along these principles? Or are we repeating old patterns? Are we ready?

Not only change facilitators, but any professional advising organizations on their strategic direction has to ask herself if we are changing with our clients.

Join the discussion.

Saving costs: a good enough argument for change?

TriplePundit has a post on the benefits of pilot projects to convince managers of the usefulness of becoming sustain:

Assuming your pilot is successful, just multiply out the sustainability and financial benefits by the total number of units to be produced in normal operation. Then… presto! Your demonstrated value isn’t just the return of your pilot project, but the return of the overall project, as if it were implemented throughout your facility.

via Making the Case for Sustainability in Tough Times: The Magic of Pilot Program.

Unfortunately, this simple math does not always work. It will depend on the incentives a manager has to cut costs and the way he is viewed by the rest of the organization (especially his superiors) to try out new things.

Watch this video on resistance to change to see what I mean:

If you want to know more about this video case study, read this explanatory post.