Books Business, Finance & Law Changing Conversations In Organizations: A Complexity Approach To Change (Complexity And Emergence In Organizations)

Changing Conversations In Organizations: A Complexity Approach To Change (Complexity And Emergence In Organizations).pdf

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Read online or download a free book: Changing Conversations In Organizations: A Complexity Approach To Change (Complexity And Emergence In Organizations)

Pages: 200

Language: English

Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (25 July 2002)

By: Patricia Shaw(Author)

Book format: pdf doc docx mobi djvu epub ibooks (*An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.)

Drawing on the theoretical foundations laid out in earlier volumes of this series, this book describes an approach to organizational change and development that is informed by a complexity perspective. It clarifies the experience of being in the midst of change. Unlike many books that presume clarity of foresight or hindsight, the author focuses on the essential uncertainty of participating in evolving events as they happen and considers the creative possibilities of such participation.

Most methodologies for organizational change are firmly rooted in systems thinking, as are many approaches to process consultation and facilitation. This book questions the suggestion that we can choose and design new futures for our organizations in the way we often hope. Avoiding the widely favoured use of two by two matrices, idealized schemas and simplified typologies that characterize much of the management literature on change, this book encourages the reader to live in the immediate paradoxes and complexities of organizational life, where we must act with intention into the unknowable. The author uses detailed reflective narrative to evoke and elaborate on the experience of participating in the conversational processes of human organizing. It asserts that possibilities are perpetually sustained and changed by the conversational life of organizations.

This book will be valuable to consultants, managers and leaders, indeed all those who are dissatisfied with idealized models of change and are searching for ways to develop an effective change practice.

Must of the thinking about orgazational change suggests that we can choose and design new futures for our firms. Questioning this idea, this book also describes an approach to change and development informed by a complexity perspective..


Read online or download a free book: Changing Conversations In Organizations: A Complexity Approach To Change (Complexity And Emergence In Organizations).pdf

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Customer reviews:

  • By Pete Burden on 19 May 2012

    I agree with the previous reviewers - this is a thought provoking and useful book.I recognised a huge amount from my own experience of working in and with organisations. The examples of consulting engagements ring completely true - for me at least. And I really enjoyed having my natural suspicions of formal planning processes confirmed academically.I also found the chapter which compares the Shaw/Stacey approach with other better recognised approaches really useful. The simple format of "what is similar" - "what is different" helped clarify their position.Like Shaw, I am a tiny bit suspicious of many of the approaches she describes (Open Space Technology, Future Search Conferencing etc). And it helped me to think about the reasons why I have that instinctive response.However, I really missed in that section, and more generally, the sense that she and Stacey are building on the "shoulders of giants". It would have really helped me throughout to have heard even a tiny acknowledgement of the remarkable contribution of others to the practice of OD. At times it really got in my way - I kept getting the sense that the author "doesn't have much time for" Schein, Argyris, Bohm, Bion etc - people who whatever their failings might be have in my view made enormous contributions.I also wondered whether there is a simple flaw in her thinking. Patricia Shaw is clearly an highly intelligent and articulate woman. There were times when I was worried that her explanations were going to disappear into the realm of 'meta-twaddle' - but she always rescued things, in my view. She is 'clear' herself, despite the difficulty of some of the material.Personally, I do find the theoretical framework of complexity at the same time useful, and also a little irritating - why can't we just call these conversations "conversations"? Why do we need a fancy name for them?And I simply find it hard to believe that the people she writes sometimes a little disparagingly about didn't understand the "edge of chaos" instinctively. I think we all do - I think it is human to live in chaos and we all 'get it' intuitively and emotionally. Take her criticism of Argyris' double loop learning. The criticism for me only works from the frame that he is *only* talking about rationality.What if he and Schein and all the others not only appreciated chaos but lived through it in their work? What if it is only when their work is analysed 'rationally' that these flaws emerge? This for me is the irony - the very thing she tells us not to do - to over-rationalise and believe too much in our own sense of the future or past - she seems to do in relation to these greats.Nonetheless a very good book.

  • By G. de Groot on 20 February 2011

    Patricia Shaw wrote a great book because it gives a completely different view on the contribution of the "change" consultant to organizational change. Don't introduce models and schemas but initiate and fuel conversations in the organization not as a planned event but as a way of working. The strong point of this book is that Shaw lets the reader look into her consultant kitchen and takes you along with her "discoveries". It is a must read for every consultant with an urge to initiate all kind of change initiatives in organizations. And it is the most concrete example of the where the complexity 'school' from Ralph Stacey stands for I could find.I have only one objection to this otherwise fantastic book. Shaw finds it necessary to set herself aside from all the other alternative change approaches in her last chapter. I would have liked this book even more if she just had skipped that chapter.

  • By John Saunders on 29 April 2014

    I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I am very sympathetic to the argument the author makes about the nature of organisational life as the complex, emergent product of ongoing sense making through conversations. Shaw's focus on the importance of the everyday act of conversing in creating our understanding of 'what we're doing here', and therefore how we decide what to do next, is laudatory.However, the book is let down by a number of factors. It's not long, but I can't tell you how many times I felt I was reading a phrase or indeed entire sentence used previously. Shaw reiterates over and over the perspective she is coming from - many sections and passages seem to end in an almost identical manner. I was very frustrated by this.Secondly, the structure of the book in some ways makes repetition inevitable, ranging back and forth between case study examples and exposition, theory and critique with no apparent significance to the order. This means constantly reframing and putting things in context as she moves from one section to the next, only to do it over again a few pages later. A more systematic argument and structure would have added a great deal to the book's punch, elminated the need for much of the repetition, and made a more accessible and digestible read.For example, the book ends with an examination of various trends and approaches to organisational development from recent years, contrasted with her approach. This provides an excellent overview and critique of such methods, and concurrently defines her approach much more precisely than elsewhere in the text. This section would have been helpful earlier on, in order to give an understanding of the thinking behind Shaw's practice as described in the case study section.Which brings me to the book's greatest weakness - the case studies. Shaw's approach to her work is fascinating and well conveyed. But the cases she cites demonstrate only that what she does can be done, not that it should. She dismisses planned, cascaded change programmes as a waste of time, citing only anecdotal evidence of their failure. Her own approach, by contrast, is opportunistic and incremental, joining, convening and encouraging conversations between ad hoc groups with no explicit agenda or plan. Despite illuminating this approach wonderfully from her own experience, only the bearest mention is ever made of the actual results of this approach for the client organisations in question. How, then, are we to judge her approach by its real world impact when we're only given the faintest idea of what that might be? This is a real shame, because I suspect that only those already in sympathy with Shaw's views will pay much attention as a result.We desperately need to engage with the messy reality which so many approaches to organisational change ignore or sweep aside - and I think Shaw's perspective is an invaluable step in the right direction. Few, though, will be persuaded of the merits of such a viewpoint as presented by this book.

  • By Tony Quinlan on 22 July 2004

    At last, recognition that real change doesn't happen purely because of top-down, management dictats, but is embodied by real people having real conversations that are not structured by clear objectives, goals and processes. Inherently scary for all those who rely on management as a control process in their organisations and change as a corporately-guided process, this instead looks at the informal organisation and how creating spaces for conversations between like-minded change agents can be the most effective.This veers slightly too far into complexity and informal processes only for me - I believe that a balance is required between formal change and informal conversations, but this is still an important broadening of the discussion on corporate change.

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