The world of work we live in is increasingly turbulent and chaotic and many of our leaders are burdened by this complexity and may not always know how to react to the challenges. As a result, many of us feel confused and frustrated and wish someone would give us clear directions and tell us how to work effectively in these conditions. As Bion from Tavistock pointed out, when our need of dependence on our leader is not met, a growing sense of frustration, disillusionment and anxiety tends to arise. This in turn will provide fertile ground for the growth of what I call the 'if only' mentality
To continue the questions from Part I – can effective change happen without taking onboard the behavioural science knowledge of who we are as humans and what our nature is about? Is there any hope that most change agents will go beyond the formulated, project management, task-based focus change approach?
I have gathered some insights over the past few years that have propelled me to write about the subject of love in organisation and OD practice.
I was asked to be an external examiner of a PhD thesis on The Relationship between Transformational Leadership and Love as 'a Choice to Will the Highest Good' using the Transformational Leadership Questionnaire (TLQ). The title was so intriguing that I quickly agreed. When I finished ploughing through the 306 pages, I was stuck by (1) how much academic literature there is around this topic, and (2) in times like this, love is such an important subject that we must scheme to restore it to the organisation.
In April 2009, an article called The Irrational Side of Change Management (Carolyn Aiken and Scott Keller in McKinsey Quarterly) said that most of the well-grounded change management prescription (e.g. Kotter’s list in 1996) had not managed to make change sustainable nor successful because it ignored the irrational side of human nature.
Recently, someone asked me how many change approaches there are in the field of OD. Instead of answering the question, I found myself, saying – “It is not so much about approaches, but about the bias and assumptions that the organisation has about changes”. In working in the complex change arena for over two decades, I have found it to be a fact that most organisations, based on their own national and/or organisational cultural lenses (whether conscious or not), have a set of change assumptions and bias that powerfully inform the approach they take in conducting a change programme — regardless of what the change topics are.
I have just returned from the US after attending two conferences – the first was the inaugural HSD (Human System Dynamics) conference and the second was the fiftieth anniversary of the Organisation Development Network Conference. Both events, in different ways, devoted time to talk about the future – the NEXT WHAT of OD and HSD.
I was thinking about the subject of ‘voices’ recently. I don’t mean the physiological aspect of speaking or how audible certain voices are. I am referring to our ability to voice what we think, what values we hold, and what we institutively feel – both at work and in our personal lives. I find it strange that so many of the competent, professional people I meet find it hard to ‘voice’ their views about specific professional matters.
This Christmas, I have been continuously struck by the critical importance of human kindness – how kindness keeps the world going round, as they say. I saw someone go and buy hot food for a homeless person; I witnessed someone who was struggling financially being given money by another so that they could afford presents and a tree. The builders who have been doing work on our house worked around the clock right up until Christmas in order to give us back a semi functional kitchen (a working oven, an old sink and a stove) so that my family could have home cooked meals over Christmas (we have lived without a kitchen for over 3 months). I have received more presents than I need from my family, especially from my 16 year old who has limited resources.