C r e a t i n g O r g an i z at i o n a l C a p a ci t y f o r C o n t i n u ou s an d Ad a p t i v e C h an g e
S u b mi t t e d t o : M i d w e s t A c a d e my o f M an a g e me n t October, 2008
Sarah A. Malone Ph.D. B e n e d i c t i n e U n i v e rs i t y 7 7 3 / 3 3 4 - 47 8 4 S a r a h m a l o n e @ ya h o o . c o m
K E Y W O R D S : C o n t i n u ou s ad a p ti v e c h a n g e
© 2007 Sarah A. Malone
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Introduction Today‘s global business environment is dynamic and highly uncertain. Making sense of rapid and complex environmental fluctuations in global markets, (Apfelthaler, Muller & Rehder, 2002), and global interdependencies are presenting formidable challenges to continued organizational viability. The current environmental conditions in which organizations now operate, call into question classical theories of organizational change. Organizational members and leaders are learning that the accepted wisdom about how organizations perform and change is rapidly losing its relevance (Glover, Jones, & Friedman, 2002). The agile and continuously adaptive organization is broadly agreed to as the ideal organization form. Examples in practice of this achievement evidenced in organizations ―not born this way‖, however, are few and far between (Kanter, Stein & Jick, 1992, p. 5). The challenge organizations face is fundamentally one of constant change—they are always in the process of ―becoming‖ (Tsoukas & Chia, 2002, p. 567), always in the process of ―getting from here to there‖ (Kanter et al., 1992, p. 5). The there, however, is not a static state. There is moving target—a constant set of continuously morphing conditions. Throughout history, organizations have viewed change through the lens of a stable business environment—an environment in which routine and order were dominant constructs that framed business reality. Operating in an environment thought to be reliable, leaders and organizational members acted with a sense of security and certainty (Tsoukas & Chia, 2002). The classical response to change was to introduce change through ―silver bullet‖ (Schneider, 1996, p. 10) interventions such as total quality management (TQM), reengineering, organization redesign, new structures, processes and training programs. These change interventions, however, at best achieved mixed results (Kotter, 1995). What leaders and organizational members now better understand is implementing silver bullet change interventions is ―fruitless‖ (Glover, Jones, and Friedman, 2004, p. 15) without also developing and enabling organizational capacity for continuous adaptation. As noted by Glover, Jones, and Friedman, implementing change initiatives ―do not always create adaptation‖ (p 18). A continuous state of change readiness and adaptation, an unending state of preparedness versus periodic initiation of change through planned change events, is fundamental to organizational viability (Rowden, 2001). The new reality, agility and the ability to morph as the operating environment changes are requisite for sustained organizational viability because there is no fixed point at which the organization arrives at success; the organization is always in a perpetual state of arriving. Change readiness and adaptation, an unending state of organizational agility is no longer a nice to have set of skills—this capacity is now essential organizational competency. Organizational Change Perspectives: Context for the Study Weick and Quinn (1999) note that the study of organizational change done in the 1990s distinguishes between episodic, intermittent, and continuous, emerging organizational change. This difference, they note, is central to the evolution of the theoretical and operational framework for organizational change. When viewed from a distance, the changing nature of organizations appears as ―repetitive action, routine inertia, dotted with occasional episodes of revolutionary change‖ (p. 361). When organizational change, however, is seen from an ―on the ground‖ perspective, (Tsoukas and Chia, 2002, p. 568), the interchange of organization members‘ activities viewed as ―routine inertia‖ are revealed as multiple cycles of ―ongoing adaptation and adjustment‖ (Weick and Quinn, 1999, p. 361)of organization members‘ activities. © 2007 Sarah A. Malone Page 2 of 20
569) and flow of positioned initiatives will help to overcome implementation issues inherent in change programs. (2002. one benefit would be enabling researchers to better understand the organization‘s ―micro processes‖ (p. p 568) pose an interesting question. Taylor‘s thinking and his work with organizations were heavily influenced by the industrial revolution. The Hawthorne studies © 2007 Sarah A. Following Taylor. ―What would be the benefits if organizational change.‖ Third.Feldman (2000) suggests that the key to understanding organizational change as an emergent and modifying process is to examine the transformational character of ordinary human action. a ―stream of interactions‖ (p. They ask. Questions that guided this preliminary research phase were as follows: What is organizational change sustainability? What are the phenomena that create organizational change sustainability? What are the causal relationships between these phenomena? How do these phenomena / conditions bring about organizational change sustainability? Literature Review Organizational Change Sustainability The study of organizational change has a rich history—a history that has paved the way for contemporary exploration of the topic. they suggest it would support acquiring a more comprehensive understanding of how change is actually ―accomplished on the ground. He viewed organizations as machines. The evolution of organizational change theory and practice dates back to Frederick Taylor‘s work in the late 1800s through early 1900s (Burke. during which time interviews were conducted with eight research respondents. 2002). My second reason for pursuing this line inquiry is the belief that further development of the body of knowledge in this research area will have significant implications for theory development as wall as advancing practice. Malone Page 3 of 20
. both as an object of study and as a management preoccupation were to be approached from the perspective of ongoing change rather that stability?‖ They offer three responses to this inquiry. several evolutions of organizational change were the forerunners of contemporary study and practice of organization development (OD). Second.‖ Tsoukas and Chia. The study was initiated in fall 2005. In their article ―On Organizational Becoming: Rethinking Organizational Change. The emergent design research strategy was to follow the data—allow the data to lead and guide the research versus steering the direction of the study through a priori determinations. Study Purpose and Guiding Questions The purpose of the study was to gain a deep understanding of the phenomena that create organizational change sustainability through discovering factors and conditions through establishing causal relationships between and among these factors and conditions. I have long asked the question why organizations are able to initiate change. yet are unable to realize ongoing change sustainability—why they do not have the capacity for continued and adaptive change. First. my interest is influenced by experiences and observations related to challenges organizations face when dealing with continuous change. Tsoukas and Chia suggest that viewing change as an ongoing process. A seasoned practitioner with over 20 years experience in organizational development (OD) and organizational change. studied them in scientific terms. 568) of change. My interest and motivation for pursuing this line of inquiry is to-fold: First.
Their findings indicate that mutually reliant concepts of institutional will. an approach that involves everyone. Rosenborg‘s study suggests that a dynamic. Kurt Lewin‘s work (1946) with T-groups and laboratory training. These approaches fostered self-determined learning. one that emphasized intended outcomes and results. Frankford (2003) proposes that when beliefs are changed and when institution systems and rituals to put these beliefs into practice are embedded throughout the organization.‖ ―selfsustaining.beginning 1924. contemporary research in the research area of organizational change sustainability was consulted. Rosenborg‘s. and institutional will. In early 1990s he conducted research in five European universities and identified ―pathways of transformation. and the evolution of the field of management consulting are forerunners to the contemporary study of organizational change. structures. ―radical‖ (sustained) change is achieved (p. not merely change in what members do. In her research. To sustain change goals and everyday protocols. processes and routines (climate) must altered and these changes and these changes must significantly impact beliefs and values that guide behaviors. industrial psychology which emerged during the late 1940s. Initially change was implemented using a conventional approach. organizational members found it near impossible to achieve the stated desired results. p. He suggests that change initiatives fail because the change does not alter the ―fundamental psychology‖ or ―feel‖ of the organization to its members (1996. and self-sustaining
© 2007 Sarah A. A study related to organizational change sustainability conducted by Rosenborg (2003) discusses concepts of participative management and learning that occur in a ―complex setting‖ (p. 64).) learning (individual and organization. Schneider proposes that to achieve organizational change sustainability. culture and climate. Clark‘s. commitment. belief and institutional systems function in concert to bring about change sustainability. studies done at Union Carbide (McGregor). In addition to classical change theory. and (c) collective desire. He proposes three underlying causes of their sustained change: (a) reinforced interaction among transforming organizational constituencies.‖ His study examines the passage these universities made ―from transformation to sustainability‖ (p. Change penetrates throughout multiple levels of the organization‘s architecture. engagement (mobilization. is self-driven. methods. General Mills (McGregor & Bechard). 512). 99). Rosenborg found that a focus on intended outcomes alone was insufficient to bring about the expected level of organizational change. (b) continuous adaptation through incremental change. Frankford‘s and Schneider‘s insights strengthen our understanding of the complex nature of organizational change sustainability. and self organized collaborative action. Malone
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. Clark (2003) adds insight to this discussion. Frankford further maintains institutional systems that align with cultural constructs are dynamically selfsustaining—the rhythmically balance one another. survey feedback. non-traditional approach to change. Through exerting will and exercising choice. 37). systems (practices. creating change in that which the organization becomes. focus. the change must be effected in both the organization‘s climate and its culture.‖ and fosters a ―new way of thinking (p78) about organizational change is required in order to create the capacity for change sustainability. Blake and Mouton‘s (1968) ―grid organization development‖ (p. problem solving. Participative methodologies and the creation of networks were implemented. Total organizational change reaches penetrates the organization‘s way of existence. Exxon (Kolb & Shepard). Eric Trist‘s work in action research (1946). 6). she observed that during early implementation of change.
p. Linking Complexity to Organizational Change All organizations experience change and all. 57) Similar to Burke‘s theory. 2). are key ingredients for creating change sustainability within a complex system. is ―messy and complicated‖ (Bloom. p. Burke hypothesizes that living systems require three interdependent characteristics. 2005). organizations have to be built on change not merely change as a result of a change program or silver bullet intervention. 56). (Lawler and Worley) 2006) agree saying in today‘s demanding and complex environment. most efforts to bring about meaningful organizational change do not work (Burke. Burke (2005) calls for a deeper understanding of the nature of organizational change and the theoretical foundation upon which the study of organizational change is built and guided. p. 2000. 5). emergent response to the environment and adaptive capacity are attributes found in the organic system Burns and Stalker studied. 2) structure. © 2007 Sarah A. 2002). while organic systems (living systems) operate in complex and unpredictable environments—they adapt to ―unstable conditions‖ (p. Weick refers to the ―interlocked behaviors and organizing‖ capacity of social systems (1979. These differentiating features. Many organizations rely on a planned change which is implemented through the application of linear methodology (Cummings & Worley. arguing that to expect ―stable. however. self-organization of member actions forms webs of interdependently contingent and interlocked actions throughout the organization. The central differentiators between the two are the environmental conditions within which each organization thrives. 89). 1997). 18). The nonlinearity of a living system makes it impossible to quantify it based on ―additive equations. and 3) process. Mechanistic organizations operate under relatively stable conditions. 2) It does not fit within the linear cause and effect theoretical model. in some way adapt to shifting environmental conditions. 1961). Burke proposes a synthesis of life science theory and organization change theory to better comprehend and describe complex nature of living systems. In mechanistic linear systems. 2000. however. as others discussed in this paper. Change in organizational life. 2006. Lawler & Worley agree. can only be understood in relationship to a living system‘s interaction with the environment within which it functions (p. 5). Fluidity. The emergent. the authors draw a distinction between ―organic‘ and ―mechanistic‖ organizations. have significant implications on the theory that emerged from this research.collaborative action. Yet. p. 1) pattern. cause and effect are proportional—output is equal to input (Bloom.‖ mechanistic organizations to perform well in complex and rapidly changing environments is ―following a recipe for failure‖ (Lawler & Worley. This self-directed and self-organizing capacity is embedded in the system‘s DNA. have not demonstrated capacity to effective adapt to rapidly changing conditions. ―Knowing‖ he posits. Burke speaks of a living system‘s process as the system‘s ―way of knowing‖ (p. Burke attributes these failures to ―times have changed‖ (p. Advocating for deeper knowledge of organizational change.‖ and as such cause and effect cannot be proportionally linked. While the metaphor of planned change provides a way to view the enactment of change. Malone Page 5 of 20
. but organizations. Continuous and Adaptive Organizational Change: An organic and Complex System In their book The Management of Innovation (Burns & Stalker. Complex social systems are organized by webs of relationships that thrive on information and are capable of reorganizing themselves in response to changes in the environment (Wheatley.
qualitative research enabled me to bring who I am to the research process—to intimately relate to the data—to explore the fertile terrain of diverse experiences. 2005) their experiences with and perceptions of organizational change sustainability. only an inquisitive mind eager to explore an area of study in which I was greatly interested. overlap and function holistically creates an illusion of messy state of affairs. there is method to the madness—an inherent order exists even in the midst of apparent chaos (Fairholm. and diagramming. 1998). 1997). OD practitioners and scholars view understand and interpret (Rubin & Rubin. Coding (open. articulation and relating of categories. aligned and interdependent activities. and information (Minus. The first component of the grounded theory methodology is data collection. and occur simultaneously. Other coding procedures used in this study included sampling. they integrate. Engaging my scientific faculties. The qualitative approach provided a way to become immersed in the research process. As applied in this study. 145). The study was approached with no prescribed or preferred theory. examining. This contention supports the idea that living systems‘ processes are synchronous. overlap. Weick asserts there is progression from one emergent. Marge Wheatly (2006) similarly reflects that in today‘s complex environment a sense of order materializes out of chaos when people exercise choice— make decisions about what affects them based on shared meaning and values. my ability to think abstractly and conceptualize complex data. © 2007 Sarah A. they are non-linear. link. p 1). Within the messiness. Malone Page 6 of 20
. memo writing. Coding results in conceptualization. axial and selective) is the analytic method and associated procedures used to analyze and organize data. and my intuitive skills. The grounded theory research method consists of three major qualitative research components. 1990). 2004. Processes and characteristics essential to complex living systems form together (p.Weick identifies connections and interdependencies as essential characteristics of complex living systems (1979). Methodology Qualitative Research: Grounded Theory Qualitative research methodology was the selected approach for conducting this study as it provides a process for characterizing. and these overlap and meld together to create multiple combinations of self-formed processes patterns designed to anticipate and respond to the environment in which they function. 2005. A holistic form of inquiry (Patton. data were derived from interviews. Weick further maintains that more than one process is active at any given time and the ―speed‖ with which organizing processes adapt to environmental conditions varies (p. exchange and integration of ―matter. perspectives. self-organized process to the next. The third aspect of grounded theory research is the preparation of written and verbal reports (Strauss & Corbin. The ability to collectively adapt to rapidly changing environmental conditions. however. 2). each of which is a building block and arterial medium for comparative analysis. energy. This methodology its well with my interest in studying how organizational leaders. properties and dimensions. 145) to create a lattice of distributed. and interpreting insights discovered in everyday experiences (Stokrocki. including those from my own experiences. non-isolated and have ‗open or fuzzy rather than fixed boundaries‖ that promote open flow. data reduction. The second component is coding of data. and the development. p 34). and insights—to tell a story honoring the complexity of many representations and contexts (Rubin & Rubin. p. While each component is distinct. I entered the process open to learning and trusting that deeper knowledge and theory would emerge from the data.
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. 2 and 3 while illustrated in linear form. attempts to show coding and data analysis as dynamic processes moving continuously back and forth between streams of data and data points in order to discover. First Cycle Coding
Deep Dive Open Coding In Vivo Coding
Stream of Conscious Memo Writing
Figure 2.Figures 1. break down. and rebuild concepts to form meaning.
In Vivo Coding
Figure 1. Second-Cycle Coding and Comparative Analysis Process
Deeper Dive Quotes
Stream of Conscious Memos In Vivo Coding Researcher Comments
Theoretical Propositions Conceptual Ordering
Figure 3. Third-Cycle Coding and Comparative Analysis Process
© 2007 Sarah A.
essential qualities and distinguish this experience from other experiences the conversational partner had with organizational change sustainability.Data Collection—Responsive Interviews The interview process was designed to stimulate respondents‘ recollection and sharing of their experiences. designed to explore breadth of meaning. several organizational development professionals were informally queried about experiences with creating organizational change sustainability within their organizations. Interview Design The interview protocol was based on Appreciative Inquiry design. Surprisingly. and contextual exploration of conversational partner‘s experiences and perspectives. Whitney. I had a good sense of what organizational change sustainability was not. and drew out key concepts related to how the conversational partners envisioned and defined organizational change sustainability. research participants were engaged as conversational partners. each overwhelmingly recounted negative experiences. Region four surfaced and inquired into conditions. and region five explored the leader‘s reflections on organizational change sustainability. Using an Appreciative Inquiry protocol was relevant to the focus of the study. their organizations. Intentionally. Appreciative interview protocol was designed to focus conversational partners‘ reflections on characteristics that give life to organizations as opposed to what is not working and problems to be solved. 7). The interview protocol consisted of five regions of inquiry. The interview guideline included the following questions:
© 2007 Sarah A. and the world around them‖ (Cooperrider. 2005). Each region of inquiry was explored through an appreciative open question. Interview questions included open ended as well as focused inquiries intended to solicit breadth as well as narrowly focused meaning. in real time. the decision was made to focus the research for this study on an organization‘s sustained capacity for change. values and enabling characteristics of organizational change (Rubin & Rubin. It is a systematic discovery of what gives life to an organization when it is most vibrant and performing at its highest productive capability. actions and behaviors required for characteristics. The purpose of the third region of inquiry was to make visible values. values and essential qualities to be present in the organization at all times. should it be needed. allowing for full. During this process. we explored the research topic to develop shared understanding. The purpose of the first region of inquiry was to facilitate sharing a vivid account of conversational partners‘ stories. Prior to starting the formal research. The second region of inquiry drew out and explored the characteristics of success. colorful. in other words. Based on their accounts and personal experience. Together. dept and scope of interview content. I also became more aware that my interest was to discover and study what organizational change sustainability was—what it looked like and what circumstances made it possible. Each region explored a study area consequential to the research. Malone
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. perspectives. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is an approach to inquiry that is about the ―search for the best in people. 2005). They had key influence in shaping and guiding the dialogue and direction of the research. I wanted to develop learning about what it is working within and what it looks like when organizations demonstrate organizational change sustainability. Rubin. Each main question was assisted. In the role of researcher. adapt to changes in direction. 2001. I had the flexibility to. Based on this reflection. with follow-up questions designed to explore specific meaning and clarify understanding (Rubin. p.
how do you define ―sustaining organization?‖ What does it mean to ―sustain organization change?‖ To determine key concepts related to the definition of ―organizational change sustainability. 1999) and their organizational change and change sustainability experiences. Vice President of human resources for a major healthcare organization. Malone
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. Leaders were selected based theoretical relevance (Glaser & Strauss.) What distinguishes this from other experiences you‘ve had with sustaining organizational change? (To discern positive core. organizational development theorist. As with initial data collection. Roles of leaders who participated in the initial data collection were: Director of organization development (OD) for a Fortune 100 pharmaceutical company.) What would need to be in place for these attributes to be characteristic of an organization all of the time? (To identify requirements.Table 1. author. and practitioners were interviewed. government agency. conditions – circumstances. interviewees were selected from profit and non-profit sectors and they were selected based on their OD and
Region of Inquiry II
Region of Inquiry III
Region of Inquiry IV
Region of Inquiry V
© 2007 Sarah A. and non-profit sectors. profit. Senior Pastor of a large metropolitan Baptist church (former CEO for a national organizational development consulting company).) Conversational Partners This research evolved as an emergent design. grounded theory study. non-secular. and essential qualities. consultant and visiting faculty member of Benedictine University. Director of a U. president of a large multiple business unit home health organization. an additional 12 US OD leaders.) What contributed to creating organizational change sustainability? What are the core factors and/or conditions that made this possible? (To discern important characteristics of success. Director of environmental and security services for a major teaching healthcare organization and Associate pastor for a large metropolitan Baptist church. Based on the insights from the initial interviews.) Reflecting on what has been discussed.S. and behaviors needed for change sustainability. scholars. Leaders‘ backgrounds included secular. actions. Appreciative Interview Questions Region of Inquiry I Please share with me a story about a time when an organization you were affiliated with functioned at its best in organizational change sustainability? (To draw out the story—what took place. The initial data collection interviews were conducted with eight organization leaders who were practitioners and scholars engaged in advancing change sustainability within their organizations or client organizations. values.
ATLAS. yet systematic ways (Muhr. The fifth region of inquiry in the interview protocol asked respondents to define what ―organizational change sustainability‖ meant to them based on their experiences.This form of discovery generates. anticipative. cards were positioned. Research Results The initial set of data resulted in two crucial insights that established the base from which further research was conducted. and hypothesis. These themes created the framework for the following definition that was developed: ―Sustaining organizational change is the continuous. and repeatedly rearranged in an attempt to formulate and organize an illustration of the theoretical construct interpreted and depicted in the data.ti. repositioned. and theoretical phenomena. This discovery resulted in recalibration of the initial focus of ―sustaining organizational change‖ to ―continuous and adaptive change. and theory development as a continuous and seamless process that culminates in theoretical findings that are anchored in the data (Glaser & Strauss). Director and professor. 57) – insights gained through over 20 years experience leading. Director of training and OD of an international pharmaceuticals company. Manager of OD for Europe. Malone
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. Findings derived from qualitative interviews for this research were triangulated with a comprehensive literature review.S.organizational change work and study. Sr. Leader of OD with a super regional wireless company. To supplement ATLAS. 2000. categories. and adaptive movement (thinking and actions) taken by organizational members to achieve a desired future. In constant consultation with the data and using speculation. Scholar and OD consultant. Classical data analysis methods as well as computer data analysis software were used to organize and analyze data. explore and reassemble a large amount of facts. Practitioners and scholars who participated in the expanded research included: Internal consultant for a diversified financial services company. Grounded Theory Data Analysis Data from each interview was analyzed using the constant comparative method (Glaser & Strauss). The first insight was a clearer understanding and articulation of the topic under study—―sustaining organizational change.ti data analysis software was used to organize and analyze large amounts of qualitative data. designing. Cards were written for each of the nine concepts. Africa. Fire Chief for a suburban municipality. knowledge and ―preunderstanding‖ (Gummesson. extract. dimensions.ti tools help manage.‖ this was profound breakthrough. and Canada. flexible. for an independent university. and scholar and OD consultant. 3/5 index cards were used for conceptualizing interrelationships among and between properties. ATLAS. Key themes emerged from the data. 2006). Chief HR Officer with a global real state and investment management company. and facilitating organization change in organizations throughout the U. properties. A total of twenty interview respondents participated in the study.‖
© 2007 Sarah A.‖ This definition created the context for calibrating a clear definition of the topic as well as the naming of the research topic. p. The approach fuses data collection. data analysis. Doctoral program director with an independent university. compare. Roman Catholic priest and activist. observations and materials from which conclusions can be drawn in creative. The program provides a suite of tools for systematically analyzing unstructured data. and Asia with a global communications company. Manager of global product and sales training and development for a global interconnect solutions company.
Table 2. strategy. Questions that guided the second round of data collection were: What are the phenomena that create continuous and adaptive organizational change? What are the causal relationships between these phenomena? How do these phenomena/ conditions bring about continued and adaptive organizational change? The comparative data analysis from the twenty interviews resulted in the discovery and interpretation of nine (9) multifaceted grounded dimensions of continuous and adaptive change. and focus. Continuous & Adaptive Change Dimensions and Subcategories
Dimensions of Continuous and Adaptive Organizational Change Leadership Mobilization Grounded Subcategories
Mobilize the organization. Pay attention and keep what is
© 2007 Sarah A. participation and diverse levels of organization members involved in the process. Set example. research questions were recalibrated and a second round of interviews was conducted to broaden the inquiry and meet the rigorous standards for theoretical saturation. teaching / learning. align. frameworks and tools/measures to support learning. Hearts and minds are engaged. anticipate and look for changes in the environment. these concepts appeared to be mutually reinforcing. systems. Believe in and promote collective and reciprocal learning throughout the organization. Based on the findings from the initial data analysis. and maximize potential of others. provides descriptive narratives typifying participant perspectives and experiences. beliefs. In addition. will / exercising choice. convey vision. depicts dimensions of continuous and adaptive organization change and the grounded subcategories that emerged from the data. Understand current and future state. and values concurrence. and exhibits concepts embodied within the dimensions. alter and reinforce behavior are in place. understand implication of actions. Meaningful connections are developed. focus. Structure.The second major finding made during the initial data analysis was the discovery that higher level codes did not take the form of neatly constructed clearly defined concepts and causal relationships. models. Scan. Disseminate information throughout organization. planning and taking collective action. processes. Malone
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. Table 2. Have an end in mind. Comprehend emerging internal and external conditions. Collaborative involvement of stakeholders. Create learning opportunities for others. Emerging from the data were a series of nonlinear. Collaborative involvement of organizational members in deciphering. environmental savvy. Maximize own potential. methods. mobilization. These dimensions embody the concepts leadership. inexact concepts—concepts that appeared to be multi-dimensional versus singular in character. interacting with and influencing one another. learning / teaching.
systems and learning/teaching) are fields where highly adaptive behaviors are initiated in anticipation of and in response to perpetual waves of environmental change. that of an association—they were interrelated. build success from shared belief and values. inter-reliance.
Deeper analyses of data lead to three further observations. the relationship between them resembled. Believe in individual and collective potential. Secondly. Having resolve. Thirdly. Guided by values and beliefs. inter-reliant upon each other.
© 2007 Sarah A. First. non static perspective that accommodates the emergent and complex nature of organizational change. Will/the exercising of choice triggers and sets in motion the organization‘s adaptive capacity. Six of the nine dimensions (environmental savvy. See what is possible. theory development was approached from a non linear. and embedded in their DNA is the intrinsic properties of the other concepts. inter-relational holistic system in which the nine concepts act in concert to create the capacity for continuous and adaptive organizational change. leadership. in form and function. Exercising free will / personal choice. they informed and were informed by each other. mobilization. each of the nine dimensions was adaptive—morphic in nature versus unvarying. Take risks and take responsibility for choices. To capture and illustrate the dynamic and complex nature of CAOC. focus. morphic nature) reflects the holistic nature of CAOC. The presence of these three characteristics (multi-dimensionality.Belief
Will/The Exercising of Choice
important in sight. Intentional deliberation of multiple possibilities. Sustain cohesion of everyone pursuing the same goal. Expectation of success. Have shared values. Figure 4 illustrates CAOC interacting with emerging environmental conditions. CAOC is a multi-directional. the nine concepts. Instead. Act with shared values. multi-dimensional. will/the exercising of choice is the agent of change—the conduit for activating organization members‘ behaviors and actions. dimensions of continuous and adaptive organizational change are multi-dimensional—dimensions overlap and meld together. Shared values and belief in individual and collective ability to achieve success constitute the underlying and stabilizing force that informs and anchors behaviors and creates order in the midst of the sensation of chaos and volatility. while distinctly different did not function independently. Continuously link tactical execution with strategy. Malone
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. Confident in self and others‘ ability to achieve success.
5) diametrical forces and 6) relational dependency. Learning/Teaching.
© 2007 Sarah A. Systems. Beliefs and Values Congruency are fundamental elements of continuous and adaptive organizational change. Malone
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.Figure 4. Will/the exercising of Choice. 3) adaptive capacity. 4) maximized velocity. This organizational capacity. 2) multi-dimensionality. Table 3 summarizes CAOC as a complex social system. they are 2) non-linear form and function. Continuous and Adaptive Organizational Change Legend: L = Leadership E = Environmental Savvy M = Mobilization Lg = Learning/Teaching S = System F = Focus B = Beliefs V = Values Congruence WC = Will/The Exercising of Choice
Continuous and Adaptive Organizational Change: As Seen Through the Lens of Complexity Mobilization. embodies six characteristics. The interdependent aligned and synchronous working together of these nine dimensions enacts capacity for continuous and adaptive organizational change within an organization. Leadership. Focus. Environmental Savvy.
rather than fixed boundaries. is influenced by external and internal environmental change. ―straight line. Adaptation occurs as a result of sensing. 1996) of people. anticipating and responding to changing environmental conditions. CAOC Complex Social System Complex system Characteristic Non-linear form and function Description Fragmented. fuzzy. they influence and are influenced by each other.‖ (Franklin and Streeter. multi-dimensional functioning of CAOC dimensions. Embedded within each dimension.‖ (Minus. p. Values and beliefs anchor and inform behavior and member actions. The nine dimensions of CAOC have ―open. 34) and small changes in one or more dimensions can have unsymmetrical impact on the other dimensions.
Multi-Faceted and multi dimensional
Speed and Velocity
© 2007 Sarah A. is the essence of other dimensions. practices. Malone
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. The nine dimensions of continuous and adaptive organizational overlap and blend together. 1998) and neatly ordered meeting points delineating cause and effect are not found in CAOC. These two features create the multi-faceted. The nine dimensions adapt and reconfigure at different speeds and velocities. they inform and are informed by each other. Adaptation is a way of existence versus a series of episodic events.Table 3. Dimensions of continuous and adaptive change function as an association—they are distinct yet interdependent. and provide stability and a sense of order in the midst of turbulence and chaos. 2005. The speed (how fast adaptation occurs) and velocity (―direction aware‖ movement) (Henderson. systems and structures within the (take out) seven dimensions.
CAOC is viewed as a complex system that adapts to fluctuations in the environment. Figure 5. which flex and alter in response to shifts in the external and internal environment. CAOC Dimensions Responding to Internal/External Environment
Figure 6. 6. and 7 illustrate CAOC taking place throughout the inter-relational patterns among the nine dimensions of CAOC.
Figure 5. CAOC Dimensions Responding to Internal/External Environment
© 2007 Sarah A. Malone
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practiced within the context of in-step. and (c) better understanding of the relationship between CAOC and environmental change. multi-directional.Figure 7. and adaptive illustration. Malone
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. What is called for is a nonlinear. Seeing continuous and adaptive organizational change through the lens of a complex living system has compelling implications for both the development of change theory and the practice of organizational development and change. The discipline of organizational change is. (b) new ways of perceiving and talking about organizational change. Implications for the practice of OD and organizational change are also evident. aligned. theoretical framework that allows for multi-dimensional. The interdependent. holistic. CAOC Dimensions Responding to Internal/External Environment Conclusion The nine dimensions that make up CAOC function as a complex living system in continuous and adaptive relationship with its environment. by and large. and synchronous working together of the nine dimensions foster an organization‘s capacity for CAOC. Advances in knowledge and theory development will be stymied by using singularly dimensioned theoretical frameworks that promote the study of change process depicted as simple cause and effect relationships. Advancement of knowledge will come through theoretical models that support examination of (a) the relationships between and among CAOC dimensions. and working understanding of organizational change.
© 2007 Sarah A.
extending and often simultaneously contracting environment. Practitioners must discontinue promoting this less valuable and less valid view of change and raise awareness that organizational change is not a noun—not a person. interconnection. regional. the complex nature of CAOC requires balancing prescription and creative action in the performance of carrying out the organization‘s business recognizing that within the dynamic of CAOC. The term continuous and adaptive organizational change connotes continuous movement toward achieving a set of non-static strategies and goals that flow in and through a constantly broadening. There are two levels of implications for OD practice. and responding to changes occurring in the environment. Today. First.episodic processes that assume change is achieved within a relatively fixed set of circumstances. or place that the organization. Malone
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. and responding to ever-shifting environmental conditions. Seeing with new eyes is seeing CAOC as a complex social system—recognizing the dimensionality. or national. Organizational change is networks of people in action—people who are continuously predicting. arrives at. 2005). Additionally. preparing for. an organization‘s ability to respond to constantly shifting and emerging global environmental conditions calls for a new worldview—a new way of seeing. It is a normal state of affairs. prescriptive and creative actions reside together in harmony. thing. alters them all. not the exception to the rule (Purser & Petranker.
© 2007 Sarah A. practitioners must see with new eyes and secondly they must practice with new understanding. thinking about. at some time in the future. and inter-reliance that each of the nine dimensions has with one another –altering one. This static and linear view of change may have had relevance when marketplace dynamics were local.
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