#CIPDOD15 Beyond OD Orthordoxy: dialogic and networked change approaches

This is with Prof Cliff Oswick of Cass Business School at City Uni London.

It’s going to be a fairly quick look at moving away from problem-centred change and to discursive approaches to OD.  Shifting from top-down to emergent, network forms of change.

Traditional vs Dialogic vs Emergent OD

1900s to present – orgs as machines.  1960’s to present – orgs as systems.  1980s to present – interpretive meaning-making systems, 1990s to present – complex adaptive systems.  The last 2 acknowledge the complexity, subjectivity, emergent, chaotic nature of OD.

We’ve come to realise that it’s the discursive construction and context of something that frames what we think of it.  It’s how we frame the problem that matters.

New dialogic OD is solutions-driven, proactive & rhizomatic (that means non-linear!), generative, complex & emergent, abstract & intangible, multi-directional (not constrained by hierarchy).  In the past OD took a problem-centred, concrete & tangible, reactive, linear approach.

All new CEOs come into an org and restructure within 6 mths.  Even though they won’t really know enough about the best structure to create.  All you do is move the pieces around.  Mark their territory.  Prove to the shareholders that they’re ‘doing’ something.  We still like to hold onto tangible.  But who you report to doesn’t really matter.  The power isn’t located in the hierarchy.  However people are structured won’t change the culture.

If interested in OD practices – book recommendation – Dialogic OD: a theory of practice (G. R. Bushe)

Traditional OD – change as a scentific process, great for linear, tangible problems and solutions, top-down e.g. job design, teamwork and structural intervention

Dialogic / Diagnostic / Contemporary OD – change as a discursive process, emergent, fluid, focus on positive and future – always trying to create better e.g. AI, Future Search, World Café

Emerging OD – change as a political process, a neutral focus on change – what will be different now rather than what will be better in the future, turbulent & socially connected, change with employees e.g. Employee activism, Constructive deviance

Talking about a play where the audience can choose to follow different characters acting out different scenes which shows the characters for who they really are.  Doesn’t work now because people tweet it / text it / fb message it so the other audience members find out about the back story they’d never have found out about before.  Just like in work.  There’s nowhere to hide your true self!

Bottom-up is the way forward!  Hierarchy will become less important and leaders will emerge at all levels – they’ve always been there but they’ll now be overt.  Internal crowdsourcing with leaders facilitating the conversations (not heroically leading) will increase into the future.  Decisions made outside of the boardroom – engages and brings people with you. Co-creating change.  Viral change – start by infecting one or two until everyone’s caught the bug!

This post has been live-blogged from #CIPDOD15.  I’ve done my best to represent the content accurately and fairly but some errors may exist.  Most of it is the speakers’ content and I aim to show the bits that are my opinion.

2 thoughts on “#CIPDOD15 Beyond OD Orthordoxy: dialogic and networked change approaches

  1. I personally appreciate the sentiment that hierarchy is gone, I completely agree. Hierarchy = ego which has little place in our matrixed, space age paced world that we live in.

    We all NEED each other, at all ‘perceived’ levels, finally we appear to be getting that.

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