We are immersed in conversation - even when we are alone. Throughout our waking hours we talk to ourselves. For a lot of the time we talk with others as well. It’s through this ongoing process of conversational interaction that we make sense of our experience and act into the future. In this way we (along with everyone else) perpetually construct the future in the currency of our present interactions. The past is similarly a product of today’s conversations. It is not fixed and unchanging. We re-member it – i.e. put it together afresh each time – in the context of our current interactions .
So how does this relate to the dynamics of organization?
Pay attention to what’s actually going on in the business, rather than relying on the supposed indicators of performance that find their way onto “scorecards”, “dashboards”, and the like.
Recognize that organization is ‘wiggly’ - that is, things don’t happen in the neatly packaged and controllable ways that conventional management wisdom suggests they should.
Expect surprises - helping people to anticipate and respond creatively to what actually emerges, rather than to those things that might have occurred if the real world had been kind enough to comply with the planning assumptions.
Maintain high expectations of people’s willingness and ability to contribute.
On each of the past seven days, I tweeted three statements on the nature of leading change from an informal coalitions standpoint (hashtag: #ic). Each of these identified one specific aspect of the complex social dynamics of organization on which the perspective is based, as highlighted by that day's ‘C-word’. Taken together, the statements challenge the currently dominant discourse on how organization works and how change happens in practice.
In the hope of provoking further discussion and reflection, the 'full story' is repeated below:
When it comes to assessing the performance of individuals in organizations, it seems incredible that there are still a few HR professionals who believe that requiring managers to force-fit their people into a normal distribution (bell curve) represents high quality people management. And, to compound the offence, some still appear to view Jack Welch’s forced ranking approach (sometimes called "rank and yank") as the height of performance management practice.
With this in mind, a client manager once speculated on what might happen if he were to go into the local town and randomly select 100 people to work in the company. In such circumstances, he conceded that their comparative performance one year on might well be normally distributed. But that is not what he – or anyone else – actually does in practice!