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Who we are and
who we want to be:
A look at organizational change
Gregory Vigneaux, M.S.
@gregory_vig
Gregoryvig.com
greg@gregoryvig.com
Operational Coherence
Operational Coherence
“Practicing philosophy means, I
claim, reflecting about the
foundations of what one does.”
– Humberto Maturana
Operational Coherence
Who we are and who we want to be
• Assumption: Organizational identity (who we
are now and who we want to be later) is at the
heart of organizational change
• Organizational identity is an emergent property
created by the interaction of elements within
implicit and explicit constraints
• At a minimum, organizational identity is an
emergent outcome of a specific group of people
performing a particular type of work in a certain
fashion producing one or more outputs
Operational Coherence
Boundary
Work Cycles
Outcomes
Inflows
Outflows
Boundary: Established through the
emergence of an identity. Delimits
the organization from surroundings.
Something is formed that is in need
of reproduction.
The Reproduction of Identity
(e.g., products and services such as
incident response, emergency
operations center activation, mitigation
work, public awareness campaigns)
(e.g., personnel, data, funding, and
technologies)
Organizational Identity
- Ezequiel Di Paolo, Thomas Buhrmann, and Xabier Barandiaran
Operational Coherence
Domain of Robustness
Minor changes or the withstanding of events without
change. The dynamic is fortifying present conditions.
Domain of Adaptation
Substantive changes within the organization while identity is
held constant. Possible changes include shifts in inflows that
may require changes in how the organization transforms
inflows into outflows and what those outflows are. The
dynamic is adaptation within the constraints of the present
identity.
Domain of Transformation
Change in identity and how it is reproduced.
Intentionally entered for the purposes of
organizational transformation or unwillingly due to
overwhelming events. New identity emerges with
or without traces of the one that came before.
The dynamic is developing a new identity and
means to reproduce it.
Domain of Destruction
Change leads to a loss of identity within the organization. The
dynamic is destructive and irreversible change.
Domains of Organizational Change
Operational Coherence
"Conservation and change:
Every time a set of elements
begins to conserve certain
relationships, it opens space for
everything to change around
the relationships that are
conserved."
- Ximena Dávila Yáñez &
Humberto Maturana
Operational Coherence
Images
Thickness of the images we have of "who
we are" that we continually reproduce
How much is free to change?
How much of "who we are" are we seeking to carry over into
"who we want to be?"
Value
Vision
Mission
Mission
Vision
Value
Structure
Leadership
Management
Theories in use
Operational Coherence
Who we want to be (is dynamic)
"The essence of the contingency
paradigm is that organizational
effectiveness results from fitting
characteristics of the organization
such as its structure, to
contingencies that reflect the
situation of organization.
Contingencies include
environment, organizational size,
and organizational strategy."
– Lex Donaldson
- Albert Caruana, Michael Morris, and Anthony Vella
Operational Coherence
Domain of Robustness Domain of Adaptation
Domain of Transformation Domain of Destruction
Domains of Organizational Change
Dissolution
Resilience
Engineering Resilience Ecological Resilience
Operational Coherence
Who we want to be (in varying contexts)
• No one best way "to be.” Context-
specific, “bounded applicability”
• Thinner (not necessarily minimal)
images of identity conserving core
elements around which others can
change as context shifts
• Conservation enables changes in key
elements including structure,
management systems, and flows, while
holding onto to a sense of who we are
and a direction of travel towards who
we want to be
The Cynefin Framework
Complex
Chaotic Clear
Complicated
Probe -> Sense -> Respond Sense -> Analyze -> Respond
Sense -> Categorize -> Respond
Act -> Sense -> Respond
"Cause and effect are only coherent
in retrospect and do not repeat"
"Cause and effect separated over
time and space"
"No cause and effect relationships perceivable" "Cause and effect relations
repeatable, perceivable and
predictable"
2
2
2 2
Best practice
Command and control
"Take immediate action to establish order
(command and control)" 2
"Create environments
and experiments that allow patterns
to emerge" 3
"Increase levels of interaction
and communication"3
"Create panels of experts"3
"Good practice"
3
1 1
1
1
3
3
A
C
Operational Coherence
“Perhaps we can take a cue
here from the
natural sciences: how can
one thing change into
another – a bulb into a
plant, or a liquid into a gas –
unless it has already begun
to resemble it?”
– David Keen
Operational Coherence
Organizational Change
Who are we
today?
Who do we want
to be in the
future?
How can we start
to become who we
want to be today?
- Dave Sowden & Jabe Bloom
• Seeking change over immediate time frames
• Continually revisiting the image of "who we want to be" being pursued and revising as
necessary
• “If we do not know where we would be right now if we could be wherever we wanted,
how can we possibly known where we will want to be five or ten years from now?” – Russell
Ackoff
Guiding the Process
Q.1 Why does
the
organization
not yet exist
as we want it
to be?
Q.3 Is
there
support
for the
change?
Q.2 Is
there
opposition
to the
change?
Q.4 In order
for us to become
who we want to
be, what needs to
be changed?
Q.5 What
needs to
be formed?
Q.6 What
needs to
be
reformed?
Q.7 What
needs to be
reinforced?
Operational Coherence
- Rebekah Paci-Green, Gregory Vigneaux, Steven Jensen, Marla Petal
References
Operational Coherence
Blignaut, S. (2021). Introduction. In R. Greenberg, & B. Bertsch (Eds.), Cynefin: Weaving sense-making into the fabric of our world (pp. 14-18). Singapore: Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd. Footnote 1.
Caruana, A., Morris, M. H., & Vella, A. J. (1998). The effect of centralization and formalization on entrepreneurship in export firms. Journal of Small Business Management, 16-29
Di Paolo, E., Buhrmann, T., & Barandiaran, X. E. (2017). Sensorimotor Life: An Enactive Proposal. Oxford, UK: Oxford.
Donaldson, L. (2001). The contingency theory of organization. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications Inc.
Keen, D. (2008). Complex emergencies. Malden, MA: Polity Press.
Kurtz, C. F., & Snowden, D. J. (2003). The new dynamics of strategy: Sense-making in a complex and complicated. IBM Systems Journal, 42(3), 462-483. Footnote 2.
Maturana, H. R. (1983). What is to see? Archivo de Biología y Medicina Experimentales, 16(3-4), 255-269.
Maturana, H. R., & Poerksen, B. (2011). From being to doing: The origins of the biology of cognition (2nd ed.). (W. K. Koeck, & A. R. Koeck, Trans.) Kaunas, Lithuania: Carl-Auer.
Maturana, H. R., & Varela, F. J. (1987). The tree of knowledge. Boston, Massachusetts : New Science Library.
Morin, E. (1992). Toward a study of humankind: The nature of nature (Vol. 1). (J.L. Roland Belanger, Trans.) New York, NY: Pete Lang.
Paci-Green, R., Vigneaux, G., Jensen, S., & Petal, M. (2016). Developing and Implementing Comprehensive School Safety Policy: GADRRRES Research-into-Practice Brief.
Snowden, D. J., & Boone, M. E. (2007). A leader's framework for decision making. Harvard Business Review, 85(11), 68-76. Footnote 3.
Snowden, D. (2021. What Cynefin is in brief. In R. Greenberg, & B. Bertsch (Eds.), Cynefin: Weaving sense-making into the fabric of our world (pp. 58-62). Singapore: Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd.
Yáñez, X. D., & Maturana, H. R. (2013). Systemic and meta-systemic laws. Interactions, 76-79.
greg@gregoryvig.com| @Gregory_Vig | GregoryVig.com

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Who we are and who we want to be: A look at organizational change

  • 1. Who we are and who we want to be: A look at organizational change Gregory Vigneaux, M.S. @gregory_vig Gregoryvig.com greg@gregoryvig.com Operational Coherence
  • 2. Operational Coherence “Practicing philosophy means, I claim, reflecting about the foundations of what one does.” – Humberto Maturana
  • 3. Operational Coherence Who we are and who we want to be • Assumption: Organizational identity (who we are now and who we want to be later) is at the heart of organizational change • Organizational identity is an emergent property created by the interaction of elements within implicit and explicit constraints • At a minimum, organizational identity is an emergent outcome of a specific group of people performing a particular type of work in a certain fashion producing one or more outputs
  • 4. Operational Coherence Boundary Work Cycles Outcomes Inflows Outflows Boundary: Established through the emergence of an identity. Delimits the organization from surroundings. Something is formed that is in need of reproduction. The Reproduction of Identity (e.g., products and services such as incident response, emergency operations center activation, mitigation work, public awareness campaigns) (e.g., personnel, data, funding, and technologies) Organizational Identity - Ezequiel Di Paolo, Thomas Buhrmann, and Xabier Barandiaran
  • 5. Operational Coherence Domain of Robustness Minor changes or the withstanding of events without change. The dynamic is fortifying present conditions. Domain of Adaptation Substantive changes within the organization while identity is held constant. Possible changes include shifts in inflows that may require changes in how the organization transforms inflows into outflows and what those outflows are. The dynamic is adaptation within the constraints of the present identity. Domain of Transformation Change in identity and how it is reproduced. Intentionally entered for the purposes of organizational transformation or unwillingly due to overwhelming events. New identity emerges with or without traces of the one that came before. The dynamic is developing a new identity and means to reproduce it. Domain of Destruction Change leads to a loss of identity within the organization. The dynamic is destructive and irreversible change. Domains of Organizational Change
  • 6. Operational Coherence "Conservation and change: Every time a set of elements begins to conserve certain relationships, it opens space for everything to change around the relationships that are conserved." - Ximena Dávila Yáñez & Humberto Maturana
  • 7. Operational Coherence Images Thickness of the images we have of "who we are" that we continually reproduce How much is free to change? How much of "who we are" are we seeking to carry over into "who we want to be?" Value Vision Mission Mission Vision Value Structure Leadership Management Theories in use
  • 8. Operational Coherence Who we want to be (is dynamic) "The essence of the contingency paradigm is that organizational effectiveness results from fitting characteristics of the organization such as its structure, to contingencies that reflect the situation of organization. Contingencies include environment, organizational size, and organizational strategy." – Lex Donaldson - Albert Caruana, Michael Morris, and Anthony Vella
  • 9. Operational Coherence Domain of Robustness Domain of Adaptation Domain of Transformation Domain of Destruction Domains of Organizational Change Dissolution Resilience Engineering Resilience Ecological Resilience
  • 10. Operational Coherence Who we want to be (in varying contexts) • No one best way "to be.” Context- specific, “bounded applicability” • Thinner (not necessarily minimal) images of identity conserving core elements around which others can change as context shifts • Conservation enables changes in key elements including structure, management systems, and flows, while holding onto to a sense of who we are and a direction of travel towards who we want to be The Cynefin Framework Complex Chaotic Clear Complicated Probe -> Sense -> Respond Sense -> Analyze -> Respond Sense -> Categorize -> Respond Act -> Sense -> Respond "Cause and effect are only coherent in retrospect and do not repeat" "Cause and effect separated over time and space" "No cause and effect relationships perceivable" "Cause and effect relations repeatable, perceivable and predictable" 2 2 2 2 Best practice Command and control "Take immediate action to establish order (command and control)" 2 "Create environments and experiments that allow patterns to emerge" 3 "Increase levels of interaction and communication"3 "Create panels of experts"3 "Good practice" 3 1 1 1 1 3 3 A C
  • 11. Operational Coherence “Perhaps we can take a cue here from the natural sciences: how can one thing change into another – a bulb into a plant, or a liquid into a gas – unless it has already begun to resemble it?” – David Keen
  • 12. Operational Coherence Organizational Change Who are we today? Who do we want to be in the future? How can we start to become who we want to be today? - Dave Sowden & Jabe Bloom • Seeking change over immediate time frames • Continually revisiting the image of "who we want to be" being pursued and revising as necessary • “If we do not know where we would be right now if we could be wherever we wanted, how can we possibly known where we will want to be five or ten years from now?” – Russell Ackoff
  • 13. Guiding the Process Q.1 Why does the organization not yet exist as we want it to be? Q.3 Is there support for the change? Q.2 Is there opposition to the change? Q.4 In order for us to become who we want to be, what needs to be changed? Q.5 What needs to be formed? Q.6 What needs to be reformed? Q.7 What needs to be reinforced? Operational Coherence - Rebekah Paci-Green, Gregory Vigneaux, Steven Jensen, Marla Petal
  • 14. References Operational Coherence Blignaut, S. (2021). Introduction. In R. Greenberg, & B. Bertsch (Eds.), Cynefin: Weaving sense-making into the fabric of our world (pp. 14-18). Singapore: Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd. Footnote 1. Caruana, A., Morris, M. H., & Vella, A. J. (1998). The effect of centralization and formalization on entrepreneurship in export firms. Journal of Small Business Management, 16-29 Di Paolo, E., Buhrmann, T., & Barandiaran, X. E. (2017). Sensorimotor Life: An Enactive Proposal. Oxford, UK: Oxford. Donaldson, L. (2001). The contingency theory of organization. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications Inc. Keen, D. (2008). Complex emergencies. Malden, MA: Polity Press. Kurtz, C. F., & Snowden, D. J. (2003). The new dynamics of strategy: Sense-making in a complex and complicated. IBM Systems Journal, 42(3), 462-483. Footnote 2. Maturana, H. R. (1983). What is to see? Archivo de Biología y Medicina Experimentales, 16(3-4), 255-269. Maturana, H. R., & Poerksen, B. (2011). From being to doing: The origins of the biology of cognition (2nd ed.). (W. K. Koeck, & A. R. Koeck, Trans.) Kaunas, Lithuania: Carl-Auer. Maturana, H. R., & Varela, F. J. (1987). The tree of knowledge. Boston, Massachusetts : New Science Library. Morin, E. (1992). Toward a study of humankind: The nature of nature (Vol. 1). (J.L. Roland Belanger, Trans.) New York, NY: Pete Lang. Paci-Green, R., Vigneaux, G., Jensen, S., & Petal, M. (2016). Developing and Implementing Comprehensive School Safety Policy: GADRRRES Research-into-Practice Brief. Snowden, D. J., & Boone, M. E. (2007). A leader's framework for decision making. Harvard Business Review, 85(11), 68-76. Footnote 3. Snowden, D. (2021. What Cynefin is in brief. In R. Greenberg, & B. Bertsch (Eds.), Cynefin: Weaving sense-making into the fabric of our world (pp. 58-62). Singapore: Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd. Yáñez, X. D., & Maturana, H. R. (2013). Systemic and meta-systemic laws. Interactions, 76-79. greg@gregoryvig.com| @Gregory_Vig | GregoryVig.com

Editor's Notes

  1. Polycausality from monocausality.  Energy expenditure focus  Innovate: a new method, idea, product, etc. Innovare (latin): Modify by introducing new elements New identity from a new set of constraints and elements interacting within them  Emergency management cannot wholesale switch identities
  2. Energy consumed by the thickness of the image of identity being reproduced 
  3. “How power is distributed among social positions” Formalization represents the use of rules in an organization  "The extent to which decision-making power is concentrated at the top levels of the organization."  "The existence of formal rules and regulations and the organization's efforts to enforce those rules."
  4. Polycausality from monocausality.  Energy expenditure focus  Innovate: a new method, idea, product, etc. Innovare (latin): Modify by introducing new elements New identity from a new set of constraints and elements interacting within them  Emergency management cannot wholesale switch identities
  5. "Truly adept leaders will know not only how to identify the context they’re working in at any given time but also how to change their behavior and their decisions to match that context. They also prepare their organization to understand the different contexts and the conditions for transition between them." -Snowden & Boone 
  6. Q. 1-3 : What is driving the present & what change is possible  Q. 1-4: What steps need to be taken to create some of the desired change?