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Reading about change

Fall Prairie at Quivera NWR

Change is happening on the Kansas prairie as grasses and trees transform to their brilliant fall colors. As Organization Development (OD) practitioners we journey alongside organizations and individuals in the midst of planned and unplanned change. Here are some items gleaned from my reading this past weekend.

George R. Brunk III, Interim President of AMBS, was one author I encountered who is thinking and writing about change. He asked questions that apply at a broader level to everyone involved in organizational change. He argues that change begins at the personal level and needs to be practical, asking. “Where does change begin?” How can a context for changed be created? Should change in an organization begin within the organization or follow change that is happening in a larger context? Or is change complementary between the small and large?

I continued reading Peggy Holman’s Engaging Emergence. Her important reminder is: the pattern of change is that it increases with time. When we begin change, we are quick to measure progress or take the temperature of the organization every day or week. Constantly checking to see if change is happening can distract us from focusing effectively on the process or even stop us from persevering through the fallow ground of transition. Peggy gives the wonderful example of the transition from snail mail to e-mail. It took a number of years for our primary communication mode to change. The shift happened in fits and starts, asking us to change our own patterns and assumptions along the way. Yet the pattern holds, change requires time and the amount of change increases with time.

Finally, on our Quivera adventure, Jon and I began a discussion about “transformational space”. My first reaction to reading this phrase was, “Oh no, another business buzz phrase.” But Stephen Cope , a psychologist writing about stress-reduction, uses it to further challenge my thinking about the need to intentionally create spaces where change can occur more easily. This topic deserves, and will get, its own post. But the question stands, what impact does the way we setup meeting and training rooms or work spaces have on how we engage with each other in the change process?

Here are more questions than answers. But, I find the questions worth pondering.

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