The oft-quoted claim is that 70-80% of efforts to change organizations fail, depending on whom you listen to. Yet people like me continue to throw themselves into understanding how to make things better.
We want our organizations to be more humane.
We want them to make a profit (or at least be solvent).
We want them to accomplish their strategic aims and do so while nurturing our souls and wallets in ways that have us singing Kumbaya all the way to the bank!
Don’t get me wrong. I am all for optimism. I love appreciative inquiry and the positive values that organization development as a whole stands for.
I WANT that kind of a world— for myself and for my sons.
Yet I have to wonder if we might be missing something when critical scholarship is not embraced as well.
Sun Tsu famously entreated warriors to know the enemy— really know him— get inside of his head so you can anticipate his next move.
In the battle for humane and productive workplaces the enemy may very well be what I have studied optimistically for the last few years.
…Yes— fractals, those scalable repeating patterns that seem to pop up and persist in organizational life and storytelling.
Of course some fractals unfold in very positive ways.
Just because we repeat a behavior in myriad contexts on big and small scales doesn’t necessarily make it bad.
In fact, I really enjoy looking for what I am calling “successfractals” these days. These are the patterns of behavior and perception that characterize productive and positive work experiences. They are cool and also very important— representing one of the many gifts to be had from the study of complexity.
I wonder about their socio-material underpinnings.
How much is epigenetic?
What is natural CAS (Complex Adaptive Systems) behavior and what is hegemony?
...I wonder about a lot of other geeky things too, but I will spare you.
As these questions bounce around in my head, I feel the need to investigate not just organization development and change, but also organization dysfunction and stagnation. It seems prudent to examine the other side of the coin as well in a sort of Eastern-inspired "both/and" sort of way.
...At least Sun Tsu would approve.
I can’t wait to find out where this line of inquiry will take me! ...Care to join the fun?
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