Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Reblog: #SOLUTIONFOCUSED CHANGE: The word ‘talent’

Here is an excellent and well researched blog article: SOLUTION FOCUSED CHANGE: The word ‘talent’. There are reports on the fact that talent and intelligence may be grown and that confidence in this growing possibility actually make it more effective.

This is in line with other work on systems thinking and systemic therapy (from Palo Alto’s mental research institute and the work of, for instance, Gregory Bateson and Paul Watzlawick).

Of course, Solution Focus is an approach with roots in these works, so the article on this blog should not come as a surprise :-). I’m currently reading that book, by the way and created the corresponding category on the blog, because I think I’m going to invest more time in this!

What also strikes me is the link with experience. Aren’t we in the field of Constructionism? Isn’t it what the Thinking Production System (aka Toyota production System, TPS or Lean) is also all about?

  • Plan an experiment to learn something
  • Do
  • Check the result and seek to understand the results
  • Act / Adjust as a consequence

So, not only did Taiichi Ohno enforced doing and having experiences, he also enforced thinking out the results to ensure learning did occur (this is hansei in japanese). In effect, this probably raised intelligence of workers and he didn’t know it at that time (though he probably knew that people not doing things were indeed dumb, given the low opinion he had about most managers! ;)

Can Chris Argyris theories relate to double-bind and provoke avoiding behaviors related to #Change?

Few! What kind of title is this?

Chris Argyris is a renown expert on Organizational Learning and he developed an explanation of change resistance as a difference existing between what he calls the “espoused theories” of people and their “theory in use”. You can read more about that on infed.org.

Espoused theories can be anything that got the interest of a manager (for the purpose of this post). An acknowledged need for change is a form of espoused theory. There may be different methods for conducting the change but I’m not going to talk about the ones where all the change management burden is shifted on some dedicated people, maybe external to the company (consultants). It’s known that few of them succeed at bringing the change to an end. I’m more interested in those (few) cases where a manager espoused the theory that he needs to lead the change himself. Indeed, although that looks like the best way to conduct a change, my thinking led me to discover what appears to be a risk of things not going that well (the so-called “change resistance”).

Argyris told us is that despite espoused-theories are numerous, the theory-in-use always is quite the same, of the Model I kind (see article on infed.org), which is governed by four main values:

  • Achieve the purpose as the actor defines it (ie. “stick to the letter”)
  • Win, do not lose
  • Suppress negative feelings
  • Emphasize rationality

The main consequences of these values (again, according to Argyris) are:

  • Defensive relationships
  • Low freedom of choice
  • Reduced production of valid information
  • Little public testing of ideas

(you can read all of that on the excellent infed.org page about Chris Argyris alongside with the Model II governing values that would prevent these consequences and benefit to the organization).

So, what is the point of view of the people impacted by the change (employees mainly, subordinates to the manager that espoused the change)?

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#Change, #Lean or #SystemsThinking avoidance, a response to double-bind situations?

December 20th, 2010 Posted in Change, Lean, Systems Thinking Tags: , , , ,

I wanted to give you a few words on an interesting paper I’ve read some time ago (in french only) that postulates that change resistance and avoidance behaviors with regard to change may be the emergent result of a double bind situation. I then below elaborate on the possibility that it’s a reason for resistance to the use of Systems Thinking in favor of the more traditional Analytical Thinking (AT).

The paper was available on http://www.approchesystemique.net/XAccueil/index.php (titled: “Les comportements d’évitement : opportunité ou fléau pour l’apprentissage organisationnel”), a site dedicated to systemic approach as devised by the Palo Alto school (Mental Research Institute, works from D. Johnson, G. Bateson, P. Watzlawick mainly) applied to organizations. It has disappeared, that’s why I’m republishing it here.

The paper elaborates on the idea that avoidance behaviors may be the emergent “qualities” of a double bind context. That avoidance behavior may result from a situation in which some people (the person(s) resisting change) are trapped in a double bind as a result of a context of search for efficiency and permanent, accelerated calling into question of work conditions. This context may be generating anxiety for impacted people that it binds. When meta-communication is not possible in this context, then appears the double bind situation.

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