Why organisations ignore the transformative collaboration approach to change:
They don’t promise to achieve a predetermined outcome By definition, these approaches accept change as the emergent outcome of simultaneous combined action. They work by recognising that when the patterns of interaction in an organisation change, the organisation is changed. In this way, change is an emergent property of the system. These ways of working, focusing rather on a single, predetermined outcome, work to create possibilities. They are focused on creating different ways of being now that will lead to better ways of being in the future. The future is conceptualised as emerging from the actions of the present. This presents a challenge to any leaders who understand their job to be to lead their organisation to a future predetermined by them.
They aren’t based on the power of logical problem-solving While these methods may call on the analytical and problem-solving skills of the participants, their power resides in the effect they have on emotions, relationships, system understanding, and knowledge. In other words, the source of change is the motivating effect of feeling good and of finding common ground with others. When we find such common ground, when we find we have shared values and desired futures, this means that analytical power is no longer privileged. The “normal” organisational hierarchy is upset.
Change doesn’t happen in sequential, linear steps With these ways of working, change happens “in the moment” as people come together to find out about themselves and their organisation. The big changes in mental models, orientation, joint understanding, perception, relationships and collective energy happen as people work together. Of course, after any collective event, not a top-down directive. This means the ownership, energy and execution are likely to be different. The sources of change are vision, energy and co-coordinated effort. Plans exist only to support these things. This is a reversal of the usual order where plans are seen to “drive” change. These ways of working mean that planning becomes a supplementary activity, not a driving force.
Information is not neutral, and decisions are not impartial With these transformative, collaborative ways of working, certain information is positively sought. The questions asked are biased to create particular pools of knowledge and positive feelings. By the same token, others are deliberately ignored. It is not a balanced investigation; it is a positively biased inquiry. So we want to know what works, not what doesn’t. We want to consider the best possible future, not the most likely future. There is no pretence that actions are dictated by bigger forces, such as “logic dictates” or “market forces demand that …” Rather, there is a recognition that although we operate in a world of affordance s and constraints, there are many possibilities for action that can be created. This means that no one can claim to have the whole picture or a monopoly on “the truth”. For those who think that they are paid on this basis, this is hard.
The role of the leader is not to be omniscient about the past, present and future These ways of working do not credit the leader with a monopoly on knowledge, vision, account, intelligence, leadership or truth. These are recognised as assets that exist throughout the organisation which can be brought into the open to the benefit of everyone in the organisation. Within the organisation lie the knowledge, wisdom, relationships and intelligence to create attractive futures. The leadership perspective is one among many that create the organisation. Leaders are uniquely positioned within the system, as is everyone, within a complex network of privilege and vulnerability. This requires a very different understanding of the role, power and influence of the organisational leader. »