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    Copyright Barbara Senior, Organisational Change Lecturers Guide 2002

    1Organisational Change Chapter 8

    Soft Systems Model forChange

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    Overview

    This chapter challenges the notion of rationality as applied to organisational change in thecontext of soft complexity .Lewins three -phase model of change isdescribed as a simplified representation of amore detailed description of organisationaldevelopment as an approach to change.

    Some limitations of organisational developmentas a change philosophy and as a changeapproach are discussed.

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    Objectives To:

    recognise that some change situations

    (problems/opportunities), by nature of theircomplexity and particular characteristics, requiresoft rather than hard systems approaches tochange;

    consider the philosophy, value orientation andtheoretical underpinnings of OrganisationDevelopment (OD) as a generalised example of softsystems models for change;outline and describe the processes and practiceswhich comprise most OD approaches to designingand implementing organisational change;discuss the limitations of OD approaches tomanaging change.

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    Why Mess Management Is Needed - 1

    Various factors such as power

    bases, organisational culture ,leadership styles, and changes inthe organisations environment , can

    in many cases make organisationalchange a lot more technicallycomplex and emotionally charged

    (therefore messy) than the HardSystems Model of Change canadequately deal with.

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    People act in accordance with theirown view of what is rational forthem.

    They are not puppets, dummies,cogs, cattle.

    Why Mess Management Is Needed - 2

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    Why Mess Management Is Needed - 3 The Hard Systems model of change

    is not likely to be effective:where the nature of the presentingproblems is defined differently bydifferent people (stakeholders) in thesituation.and where quantitative criteria cannot readily be agreed upon.

    and where systems are complex .and where a pluralist ideology ofrelationships prevails.

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    7So how can managers deal with messes?

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    The Art and Science of Mess Management - 1

    Ackoff (1993:47) suggests there are 3 kinds of things which can be done about messes. The firsttwo are:

    Resolve them

    Select a hunch that yields a good enoughoutcome - one that satisfi c es (satisfies and suffices). Patch and mend, survival-oriented .

    Solve them

    Select quantitative approaches based on researchand rational-logical methods of analysis. Focuses on the trees rather than on the wood; atomistic .

    Ackoff, R.L. (1993). The art and science of mess management, in Mabey, C. and Mayon-White, B. (eds) Managing Change . London, P.C.P.

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    The Art and Science of Mess Management - 2 The third of Ackoffs (1993: 47) ways of tackling messes is:

    Dissolve them - idealising Change the nature of the problem context

    (or system involved) so as to remove theproblem.

    Development oriented eager to improvequality of life for self and others.

    Resigning systems at various levels of the

    organisation to dissolve the problem This is what the soft systems approachtries to do.

    Ackoff, R.L. (1993). The art and science of mess management, in Mabey, C. and Mayon-White, B. (eds) Managing Change . London, P.C.P.

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    Change is only effective when

    peoples feelings, needs,perceptions, ways of doing things &hopes are addressed. AND

    messy situations require managersto dissolve existing problems, bychallenging underlying purposesand assumptions.

    The Art and Science of Mess Management - 3

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    The Art and Science of Mess Management - 4

    For the manager who wishes to dissolve

    problems, Buchanan and Boddy (1992)suggest:

    backstaging, not just public

    performance political skills behind the scenes intervening in political and cultural

    systems managing meaning selling the

    change

    Ackoff, R.L. (1993). The art and science of mess management, in Mabey, C. and Mayon-White, B. (eds) Managing Change . London, P.C.P.

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    Differences Between Hard & Soft Change Approaches

    HARDClear goals and objectivesQuantifiable dataControl mechanisms areclearPower is clear, known to

    workUnitary view oforganisationEvolved first to meetneeds of modern

    engineering and industrialsystemsAims to solve problemsAnalyst detached fromsituation

    SOFT Organisations as socialentitiesGoals need negotiationDifferent perspectivesPower diffuse and

    frequently unknownConsensus view/conflictview of organisationEvolved later (1960s) inresponse to difficulties in

    using hard approachesAims to appreciate andimprove problemsAnalyst part of the situation

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    Organisation Development - 1

    Organization development (OD) is a long term

    effort, led and supported by top management, toimprove an organizations visioning,empowerment, learning, and problem-solvingprocesses , through an ongoing, collaborativemanagement of the organization culture - withspecial emphasis on the culture of intact workteams and other team configurations - utilizing theconsultant- facilitator role and the theory andtechnology of applied behavioural science,

    including action research .

    (French, W.L. and Bell, C.H, (1995). Organization Development: Behavioural Science Interventions for Organization Improvement , Fifth edition, Prentice-Hall, p.28.).

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    Organisation Development - 2

    Organization development is an ongoing

    process of change aimed at resolving issueswithin an organization through the effectivediagnosis and management of the organizationsculture . This development process usesbehavioral and social science techniques andmethodologies through a consultant facilitatorand employs action-research as one of the mainmechanism for instigating change inorganizational groups. (McCalman, J & Paton, R (1992). Change Management Guide to Effective Implementation , London, P.C.P. p 131).

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    Basic Assumptions of OD as a Model for Change - 1

    It emphasises goals and processes withemphasis on processesIt deals with change over medium andlong-termIt is about people and recognises theirworthIt involves the organisation as a whole

    as well as its partsIt emphasises the concept of a changeagent/facilitator

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    Basic Assumptions of OD as a Model for Change - 2

    It uses action research as a means ofinterventionIt is participative , drawing on theory andpractices of the behavioural sciencesIt subscribes to a humanistic philosophyof opennessIt is a process of facilitation at the

    individual, group and organisational levelIt has top-management support andinvolvement

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    Learning Organisation - 1More recently, the concept of a learning

    organisation has been blended in withOD.Central ideas of the LO: A process approach to change in which

    everything, including existing goals and thegoal setting processes, is subject tochallenge.

    Double-loop learning. Change is continuous . Development of the organisation is treated

    as being central to its well-being.

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    Learning Organisation - 2

    More central ideas of the LO: Shared visioning Proactive learning

    Continuous experimentation & risktaking

    Leaders as facilitators and learning

    leaders Team learning

    Wh O i i D l I

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    Source: Mintzberg, H. (1973), The Nature of Managerial Work, Harper & Row.

    Why Organisation Development Is So