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

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


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