Discussion forum for members of the Massachusetts Bay Organizational Development Learning Group

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Change Management in this current economic situation.

I won the prize drawing at the last Program Meeting on Jan 27. In order to claim this prize, I must post a note to the blog. That got me to finally try out blogging, something I've thought about doing but never made the time. For me, it involves breaking out of my shell and doing something different. Which brings me to the subject at hand: change. I was prompted to make a change and do something different by something that happened (winning the prize). Would I have done this if that didn't happen? Perhaps something else would have happened to prompt me to do it. Perhaps my thoughts would have changed as a result of some experience, leading me to blog. The point is that change in experience (physical, mental, environmental, etc.) leads to change in behavior. This is well understood by change memnegement practitioners. So, as to the question of how the current economic situation will affect change management practices: I do not think the economic situation will substantially alter change management practices. We have a situation that has created some significant experiences for many people and organizations. That will prompt changing thoughts which will change behaviors. Some will be more open to changing, many by sheer necessity. This may allow change management practices (and practioners) to have more influence and credibility. However, the basics of these practices will remain the same. Things like recognizing and dealing with resistance will still have to be done. Coaching people to acknowledge and use their resilience will continue to be an essential skill for change management professionals. We will still have to work from where the client is and not where we think they should be. The big difference is that there may be more willingness on the part of clients to use the services of change managers and/or thier tools. But let's not forget that people are still people and organizations are still organizations. Changing them will still require a solid understanding and prudent use of the basics.

I'm Grant.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How does the current economic situation affect change management practices?

Our December program meeting, with Rick Lent on “Change Management That Works,” was rescheduled to January 27. In anticipation of that event, we’ve chosen as our Question of the Month a topic that is much in peoples’ minds these days.

Is change easier to motivate in a “difficult times” – or harder? In “turbulent times” are different principles and tools for change management needed? Do change agents have to apply themselves to new areas in “tough times”? We invited members’ discussion on such topics.

Jim Murphy

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Seven Crown Jewels of Public Speaking Presence

Summary/Review of DVD: The Seven Crown Jewels of Public Speaking Presence, by Carla Kimball

7 jewels:

1. Where you put your attention, that's where your energy goes.
Change your focus of attention from "what might go wrong" to "what is success".
Notice/pay attention to what is going on for you. If anxiety begins to build, figure out what would be a more productive use of your energy.

2. Slow down. Take your time. Breathe.
Let the breath come.
Then, you can make some choices, pace yourself, in order to deal with whatever comes up in the moment.
"Entrainment": people catch up to the dominant rhythm in the room. So, you set the (slower) pace.

3. When we're anxious, we tend to be in our heads. We need to be in our bodies: an embodied presence.
Come back to feeling your feet on the ground, your connection to the earth.
Or focus on your center: your belly.
Let your energy drop down in your body.

4. Think of it as a conversation.
That takes pressure off ourselves to "perform."
You don't have to be perfect in a conversation.

5. Ask yourself, "How can I be of service?"
Be present. Be available.
Drop the need to be the expert.

6. Find the inner smile, the smiling energy that is inside.
Smiling and frowning have very different neurochemistries.
Don't take yourself so seriously.
When we smile, we end up being much more open and receptive to others.
Be kind to yourself.

7. Trust the power of silence.
Silence provides an opportunity to come back to yourself, to allow the possibility of discovery.
It also gives emphasis to what you just said -- gives it resonance. Gives folks time to assimilate.

I agree with the effectiveness of most of what she says in the DVD. It is entirely a "talking head" (or, more accurately, "talking torso") piece of media, with the camera scarcely moving (and then only horizontally), so don't expect the visuals to be at all enthralling. But she has good material and delivers it well herself.

Most of us omit one or several of these points in our own public presence -- so the DVD can offer a good refresher.

Ed Dolan


Thursday, November 20, 2008

What challenges will OD face in the year 2009?

Our November 18 program meeting was on “Six Challenges for OD Practitioners”. We had small group sessions and report to the whole group on “Defining and Explaining OD,” “External vs. Internal,” “Globalization and Virtual Worlds,” “Measuring OD Interventions,” “OD and Creativity,” and “OD as a Career Field”.

For the Question of the Month, we taken a focused view of the program theme and are asking members to provide their thoughts on what challenges OD will face in the next year – as well as ways that OD practitioners can meet those challenges. Of course discussion on the six specific areas covered is also welcome.

Jim Murphy

Friday, October 24, 2008

How can we tell whether what people tell us about organizations is the truth?

Our October 22 program meeting was on “Getting the Organizational Truth”. Bruce Katcher of Discovery Surveys presented on "Designing Effective Survey Questions". Louise Mallette of The Telic Group presented on "Creating a Safe Space". Michael Nagle of Michael Nagle Consulting Group presented on "Open and Honest Dialogue”. Deepika Nath of Indica Consulting presented on "What You Need to Know Before You Seek the Truth".

This program was in part a follow-up our December 2004 “Interviewing and Surveying Customers and Employees” and July 2006 “Focus Groups in OD”. The 2006 program was a result of ideas from a brainstorming session at the 2004, and this program similarly originated from whole group discussion at the 2006 one.

Our overall theme was that we have to collect data in OD, using such methods interview, surveys, and focus groups? But since people don’t always want to tell us like it is and sometimes don’t even understand their motivations, how can we know that this data is “the truth” (or, if that is too philosophical a question, adequate ground for making sound decisions and taking effective action)?

This time we also considered what we would learn and what topics would be good to learn more about. The following were some of the ideas proposed:

· How can we get open and honest feedback? Is this situation different in virtual contexts?

· How can we build trust in organizations? And how can we rebuild trust after it has been broken (e.g., betrayal by management)?

· How can develop discernment? Specifically, how we practice “use of self” and build more reflective self-awareness?

· How can we find courage to speak up when it is not safe to do so? Or is this something that sometimes should be avoided?

· How can we avoid self-deception? How does this apply to leadership?

All of these would make for good program topics. In the meantime, we invite blog discussion on any of them or related topics. For the Question of the Month, we taken the overall question provided by the program title.

Jim Murphy

Friday, September 26, 2008

How can we better make use of reflection in our practice?

Our September 25 program featured Grady McGonagill of McGonagill Associates on “Reflection on Practice: Moving Competence to Mastery”. Through small and whole group discussion, those attending gained new insights into model building and how it can be used to enhance one’s practice of organizational development. We gained new ideas and a new focus for understanding and aligning our abilities and values, expanding the deepening the scope of our practice, and having that practice naturally reflect what we are.

Reflection is one of the most important skills for OD practitioners but is rarely given the attention it deserves. This program was thus a very valuable learning on which reflective follow-up is particular appropriate. Whether you were there or not, we invite your ideas on how reflection can make us better practitioners.

Jim Murphy

Monday, August 25, 2008

Deep Change Musings

Your Prize: Theory U

Terms and conditions (the fine print): write two blog postings on deep change – one before and one after reading the book.

Having not read the book, I am clearly in no position to comment on it. However, I felt compelled to turn to it as a place to start.

THE FIRST THING I DID was look at reviews and the executive summary of the book. The brief descriptions resonate with some of my experiences -- experiences that were designed to bring me to the same internal awareness that I believe is highlighted in the book. I'll know more after I read the book.

THE SECOND THING I DID was listen to my critical theory voice emerge. I started questioning the whole notion of change. Mind you, I identify myself as a continuous learner. I am motivated by engaging with others who are willing to change. At the same time, I believe we have become a culture where the notion of change has also become a sacred concept, an underlying Truth. Change as a Sacred Truth can serve as a red herring. By putting change on a pedestal, there is also the danger of the underlying message of “not good enough;” it can be easy to forget to celebrate and draw from our successes. Change as a Sacred Truth can be disconfirming.

THE THIRD THING I DID was return to Mary Catherine Bateson’s words on deep change. I’ll let her speak in her own words:

"Much of coping with discontinuity has to do with discovering threads of continuity. You cannot adjust to change unless you can recognize some analogy between your old situation and your new situation…If you create continuity by freezing some superficial variable, the result, very often, is to create deep change. This is something my father used to talk about in relation to evolutionary theory. He used the example of a tightrope walker. The tightrope walker is walking along a high wire, carrying a very light bamboo rod. To keep his balance, he continually moves the rod. He keeps changing the angle of the rod to maintain a constancy, his balance in space. If you froze the rod, what would happen to him? He would fall off. In other words, the superficial variation has the function of maintaining the deeper continuity. In evolution, the deeper continuity is survival. For the tightrope walker, it's staying on the high wire." (Mary Catherine Bateson) www.buzzflash.com/contributors/05/03/con05110.html

I’ll be back after I explore Theory U.

But don’t wait for me. Please share your Theory U Musings!!

Polly Silva