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A New Way of Thinking

Part 1 of the "New Way of Guiding Large-Scale Organizational Change" Series

In my experience as a coach and practitioner of organizational development, I’ve come to understand and realize that to effect change within an organization, the organization itself needs to be empowered and prepared with the resources, skills, knowledge, and support necessary to achieve the desired results. Most importantly, in order to gain a competitive advantage through large-scale organizational change, efforts and initiatives require a new way of thinking - a shift from the old mechanistic views to an organic view of organizations.

Today’s organizational and business landscape is uncharted territory for most and the prosperity of today’s organizations depends on their openness and ability to effectively plan and implement large-scale organizational change. During these shifting, transformational, and often difficult times, many leaders have been responding to what seems like a newly established norm of turbulence and uncertainty by attempting to implement deep, pervasive change through old survival based strategies such as downsizing, mergers, re-engineering business processes, in the hope of gaining a competitive advantage by improving the quality of services or products and ,therefore, productivity and profit.

These change efforts, which are usually launched with great enthusiasm and fanfare, typically run into serious resistance and impediments during implementation and can often produce disappointing financial results. Many do not last any longer than eighteen months. And the unintentional outcomes of these efforts include high employee turnover, dangerously low morale and productivity, and a workplace atmosphere of fear and discomfort. People view the change initiative as the “fad of the year.”

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The challenge of our times is to invent and discover organizational forms that can be resilient, adaptive, and healthy. We need to expand our thinking and change our ways of creating and engaging in business from a mechanistic point of view to an organic point of view. We must view organizations as organisms - living and breathing as opposed to being part of a machine.

As agents of change - human resources professionals, coaches, consultants, and trainers - it is our role is to guide clients and organizations through the planning and implementation of complex organizational change. So we must consciously help them and their organizational members expand their thinking along new lines:

  • from separate parts to connectedness and wholeness,
  • from results to process,
  • from outer resources to inner resources,
  • from sameness to diversity and plurality,
  • from control over society to reinstalling spirit into society,
  • from observable facts to intuitive wisdom,
  • from profit/productivity to higher purpose/vision,
  • from a material age to relationship age.

Most certainly, the concept of a shift in thinking is not new, but, until recent years organizations could ignore it and remain relevant and profitable. But a shift in thinking continues to occur and evolve in our society and it is mirrored in our organizations. We may call it transformational thinking. And ultimately this shift in thinking will give way to the requirement and demand for a new way of leading - to be explored in the next part of our series.

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