G1 Using New Forms of Change to Create Meaningful L+D Opportunities

Professor Cliff Oswick is from Cass Business School, City University London and delivering a masterclass for us today on New Forms of Change to Create Meaningful L+D Opportunities.

Cliff wants to talk about whats been happening in the field of change. We don’t spend enough time looking at how learning and development is a vehicle for change – that’s our focus today.

First, what has influenced change…


The mechanical and the biological sciences are more diagnostic L+D, whereas interpretive and complexity sciences are more about dialogical approaches, e.g. world cafe,

Old Diagnostic OD
scientific, problem-centred, reactive linear, punctuated and descrete, concrete and tangible, top-down
‘lets get together and decide what went wrong’

New Dialogic OD
generative, solution-driven, proactive and rhizomatic (see below), abstract and tangible, multi-directional
‘lets get to gather and co-create a future state’
Rhizomatic learning is a way of thinking about learning based on ideas described by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in a thousand plateaus. A rhizome, sometimes called a creeping rootstalk, is a stem of a plant that sends out roots and shoots as it spreads – www. davecormier.com

Examples of dialogical OD…


Cliff predicts an organisational equivalent of flash-mobs – social connectedness is important!

“Whats the difference between a social activities and a business consultant? A: the special activist care more and don’t get paid to.


So what can we do…


The blue things… are hierarchically planned. These events are still mostly top-down decisions and occur in a bound way on a given time on a given day.

The green things… are emergency and rhizomatic.


Hotspot Engagement – the network, people who are energised, highly effective, highly respected. If you don’t seek to involve these people positive within the org, they can damage the org because they care and wont to be involved

Betterworks = an organisational equivalent of Facebook. You can post challenges and receive support and feedback from people…develop your personal learning network.

Valve Employee Handbook = a game developer, with a system where all the desks are on wheels. They can work wherever they want, and work on whatever they want, no managers, no IPDPs – ultimate freedom at work. The handbook describes your responsibility for your own responsibilities. The collective make decisions about pay, performance, and other HR functions.

Agora = all decisions usually made by a board are outsourced. You can registered and be part of the cohort of people who vote on these decisions. e.g. the soft drink flavours?, and what supply chains should we use?, what shall we do with the profits?

Cass = internal crowd-sourcing and getting anyone internally involved in decisions making who wants to be…some people don’t “horse to water…”

Cliff promotes intergenerational mentoring and encourages the reciprocity of learning that a “baby-boomer” and a “millennial” collaborating can enable.

What Are The Implications for L+D?


And a real-life example…Cliff says have a look here at Do OD Organisational Development within the NHS.


If you create the conditions for emergent change, you find people will get involved in both the positive and the negative decision making, and take this collective responsibility.

Question from the floor called this out as a paradox. Answer from Cliff, leadership but not control. Get top-level commitment to it..then let it happen. You cannot make someone autonomous and self-directed in change but you can facilitate it. Caution: Cliff isn’t promoting commune organisations. These approaches are about releasing some of the grip – a blended for of organising.

Another question about getting buy in from the board and Cliff encourages us to read more – there’s lot of research out there to support your argument.

As Cliff continues to chat with Julie Drybrough next to me they conclude that it’s better to demonstrate and promote non traditional change initiative via non traditional methods eg seek the qualitative evidence.
[This blog was written live in session at the CIPD Learning and Development Show 2016, Olympia, London on Thursday 12th May. My intention is to capture a faithful summary of the session highlights, but my own bias and views will undoubtedly contribute to the tapestry of this story. Please excuse any typos, and don’t hesitate to join the conversation on Twitter with me @Jo_Coaches and the blog-squad #cipdldshow]

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One thought on “G1 Using New Forms of Change to Create Meaningful L+D Opportunities

  1. Pingback: The Rough Guide to the CIPD L&D Show 2016 – jonathanmarshall70

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