Understanding When To Use Technologies of Cooperation and Change

At Networks, Complexity and Relatedness, there is an interesting and worthwhile post about Harvard Business Review’s “The Tools of Cooperation and Change” article (Clayton M. Christensen, Matthew Marx, Howard H. Stevenson).

The article suggests a framework for looking at the “context” of an organization before choosing specific tools for change. From Networks, Complexity and Relatedness:

The cooperation and change framework consists of two axes:

  • On the vertical, the extent to which people agree on what they want
  • On the horizontal, the extent to which people agree on cause and effect

Hence, the dreaded lower left quadrant is that in which there is no consensus about cause and effect nor any agree about what people actually want to have happen. This, in short, is the chaos domain and positioned similarly to that domain in the CognitiveEdge framework. Tools for this quadrant are “power tools”: take action! Coercion, threats, and fiat show up here.

The lower-right quadrant, on the other hand, consists of the “management tools,” with such things as measurement systems, training, SOPs, and so on. The upper left is the domain for “leadership tools, and the upper right contains “culture tools,” including rituals, tradition, folklore and democracy.

The point, of course, is that there isn’t any right way to deal with change, but that it’s important to have a sensemaking tool precede the selection of a specific tool to create change and cooperation. Whatever helps us see patterns that guide toward appropriate action in the complex world of networks and relationships.

This is related to a discussion and experiment that is going on at CommuniyWiki, where, in CommunityWikiGovernment and CommunityWikiConstitution,  we are discussing creating a formal government among a group of people who previously possessed no formal system of decision making.

We found that there was some clashing among the worldviews of participants. And, we analyzed the problem through the lens of Clare W. Graves’s “Six Conditions For Change” (see: CommunityWikiGovernmentChat2):

(from http://www.vmacgill.net/paper.htm):

  1. The basic potential for change must exist. Chimpanzees are physically unable to speak. No amount of learning will change this.
  2. Solutions must exist for present or previously unresolved problems. If we do not yet have an adequate grasp of the existing vMeme or a critical situation takes all our energy, we cannot move to the next vMeme. We would not expect to see a bold new vision for the education of English children appearing in 1944. All energy was channelled into defeating Hitler.
  3. There must be a level of dissonance. If we are perfectly happy where we are, nothing moves us to change. Something must feel uncomfortable or out of balance.
  4. Insight into the situation is required with some idea of what the better future might be. There must be some prospect of a better life, a sense that there is hope in continuing.
  5. Barriers to change must be identified and overcome.
  6. Consolidation and support. The tender new shoot is vulnerable in a way it will never be as a large tree. When a leap forward is made, it must be reinforced and encouraged, to avoid slipping back to the previous state.

The idea with both of these frameworks is to understand what type of change a group or organization is ready for. The Christensen, Marx, Stevenson framework can enhance the Graves framework.

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