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

Friday, August 22, 2008

How can overcome the fear created by conflict situations?

Our August 21 program was on “Four Models for Conflict Resolution”. Deborah Bercume of Bercume Associates presented on “DiSC Indra,” Carol Bergeron of Bergeron Associates on “A Practical Approach to Conflict Resolution,” Debora Harkins of Harkins Coaching and Associates on “The Relationship Between Conflict Resolution and Diversity,” and Claudia Lach of Lach Training & Consulting on “The Consultant as Mediator”.

After the presentations we had a whole group session. In an experiment probably worth repeating, we solicited discussion questions in advance, producing a list longer than we could handle in the available time. Indeed, we were able only to consider one of them, which we have made our Question of the Month. But of course our blog allows us not only to consider this question more fully (and for participation by members unable to attend) but also to discuss any ideas members may have on conflict resolution and organizational development.

So join in and suggest new questions. The other questions were as follows:

· How can we measure impact, effectiveness and outcomes of conflict resolution strategies, tools and interventions?

· How can we demonstrate the value that we as consultants or internal OD practitioners bring to the organization?

· How can we "sell" or influence conflict management practices at all levels of the organization?

· How does a tool like Disc (or MBTI for that matter) which lead to an understanding of people's differences help in conflict resolution, particularly in the moment of the conflict?

· When there are approaches and methods that focus on the common ground (80% of what we agree), how does conflict resolution work?

Jim Murphy

Friday, August 08, 2008

Presencing, Theory U and Deep Change

At our July meeting, I wished very hard to win the drawing and it happened! The prize was Otto Scharmer’s book, Theory U: Learning from the Future As It Emerges, published by the Society for Organizational Learning in 2007. One of the requirements for receiving the book is to make a post to the blog, which I’m happy to do.

The “U process” is based on a concept Otto Scharmer calls “presencing”—a blend of the words “presence” and “sensing,” a heightened state of attention that allows individuals and groups to shift the inner place from which they function. The shift requires, among other things, slowing down, employing “generative listening,” and shifting from reactive responses and quick fixes on a symptoms level to “generative responses” that address the systemic root issues—the single most important leadership challenge of our time, per Scharmer.

Look for more learning in my next post, after I receive the book! In the meantime, you can download an executive summary of Theory U from http://www.theoryu.com/.

Lisa Kleitz

Leadership Development Consultant, Executive/Leadership/Team Coach