A little less conversation and a little more action

Shaw (2002) suggests that the “activity of conversation itself” as the “key process through which forms of organizing are dynamically sustained and changed” (p. 10) implying that talking is the impetus for successful change. I agree with Shaw’s approach but to the extent that one is building rapport, which is usually considered a positive, reciprocal behavior, and not so much extracting valuable information for intervention purposes, though rapport leads to transparency (Bernieri, Gillis, Davis, & Grahe, 1996).  I am a big Kotter (1995) fan as his approach, though systemic, addresses the relationship and subjective side of humans.  The fact remains that we are creatures of habit and fundamental do not like to change, unless there are urgencies that create a level of incongruence in our being which leads us to address this dissonance and return to level of comfort.  Schein (1988) also addresses the affective side of our fears by confronting them in his change model, unfreezing, changing and refreezing, where unfreezing suggests ‘disarming’ approach in preparation for change.

Given the implied normalization of approached, I would concur with each of these as they address the emotional state of people.  Suggest that people change not because of better information, but the truth that they are shown that changes their feelings (Kotter & Cohen, 2002), I know that I have quoted that many times in these forum, but still apropos for this discussion.  The metaphor that I draw from that is potentially that of a smoker trying to quit (disclaimer: I have never smoked).  In the year 2012, we have strong empirical data that smoking is more hazardous than not smoking, however, the tobacco industry still flourishes.  I would submit that a chain-smoker would have a stronger will to undergo treatment if they were given a scenario that if continued to smoke, they would not be able to see their children grow, or some affective ultimatum.

To that, what are some of those affective ultimatums that may be found in organizations that need to change?


Bernieri, F. J., Gillis, J. S., Davis, J. M., & Grahe, J. E. (1996). Dyad rapport and the accuracy of its judgment across situations: A lens model analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71(1), 110-129. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.71.1.110

Kotter, J. P., & Cohen, D. S. (2002). The heart of change : real-life stories of how people change their organizations. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press.

Kotter, J. P. (1995). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. Harvard Business Review, 73(2), 59-67.

Schein, E. H. (1988). Process consultation: Its role in organization development. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Shaw, P. (2002). Changing conversations in organizations: A complexity approach to change. New York, NY: Routledge.

Innovation and Creativity have a paradoxical relationship. We need to fix this!

Goncalo and Staw (2006) submit in a hypothesis which states “Individualistic groups will have higher performance than collectivistic groups on creativity tasks” and since I have been researching innovation at work, I wanted to take a closer look.  Goncalo and Staw (2006) did clarify the idea between creativity and innovation, words that are often misunderstood.  Rogers (2003) as well as Herrmann (1996) distinguish the difference between the words ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’.  Creativity is the thought process while innovation is taking the fruit of creativity and making them real(Herrmann, 1996; Rogers, 2003).

Rogers (2003) suggests that is difficult to achieve creativity in a homogenous world since diversity is the key to induce creativity; at the same time, it is difficult to create innovations with a heterogeneous groups since communications and collaboration are essential to getting things done. Goncalo and Staw (2006) do stipulate as many others have in this space such as Hofstede (2001) that individualism suggests stronger creativity because of the value that is place in being different and unique while collectivist cultures value a groups setting and therefore, most likely have stronger ties.

The aspect of ‘ties’ is currently being explored given the explosion that has occurred in social networking (Ellison, Steinfield & Lampe, 2007).  These ties, or bonds, are classified as both weak and strong and their distinction is the degree of emotion and other intimate dimensions that occur in strong ties, challenging the relations to be solidified regardless of goals (Ellison et al., 2007, p. 1).  Fascinating topic and I trust we will explore even more.  Any idea in accelerating innovation given these premises?


Goncalo, J. A., & Staw, B. M. (2006). Individualism–collectivism and group creativity. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 100(1), 96-109. doi: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2005.11.003

Herrmann, N. (1996). The whole brain business book. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences : comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York: Free Press.


When are organizations like petri dishes?

Linstead and Höpfl (2000) suggest that organizations can be anthropomorphic giving to having qualities such as beauty (p. 20), humor (p. 22) and graciousness (p. 23) and if so, then I would submit that they can also possess other qualities such as being psychopathic (ok, maybe a bit dramatic, but lets go with this).  I submit this idea to the readers of this blog, especially from a for-profit sector that organizations are self-centered having no regard for others.  Not all organizations, mind you, but certainly ones that are structured to grow; Scott, Davis, and Scott (2007) even utilize the word ‘infects’ as a characteristic of how pervasive organizations are in the modern world.

Is it possible to place an individual counter-positioned to an organization given the human qualities aforementioned or is there kind of an impedance problem between an individual and an organization; a set of individuals?  Placing an individual in an organization to be nurtured like a cell in a petri dish might be functional, but if the organization is toxic, will it have a counter affect on the individual? (staying with a biological metaphor).

To answer the question “are organizations the best or most appropriate domain for holistic human development?” I would submit that an organization, whether we like I or not, does nurture us; improving us or diminishing us.  In their essay, Chin and Benne qualify their discourse of change in the human system as only the type of change that is accepted by the members of the organization (French, Bell, & Zawacki, 1994, p.40).  I found that revealing I the sense that creating that boundary, the anomalies that arise could be discarded, as they would not be classified as the change they seek.  I also implied that there are changes that occur beyond the scope of intentionality hence validating that we change within an organizational system regardless of our disposition.  As scholars, practitioners and professionals, how do we grow in a nurturing and safe environment?



French, W. L., Bell, C., & Zawacki, R. A. (1994). Organization development and transformation : managing effective change (4th ed.). Burr Ridge, Ill.: Irwin.

Linstead, S., & Höpfl, H. (2000). The aesthetics of organization. London ; Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications.

Scott, W. R., Davis, G. F., & Scott, W. R. (2007). Organizations and organizing : rational, natural, and open system perspectives (1st ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall.


Is Followership just as important as Leadership? It does not appear so

This perspective is easier for me to discuss since I have been a follower longer than I have been a leader. It was Kent, Crotts and Azziz (2001) that conducted the study querying the respondent’s perception of their leaders; these respondents being followers.  However, in the article they also suggested that potentially the perceptions were inconsistent since followers may not ben able to distinguish between leading and managing.  I believe it was Druker who first said “Managers do things right, leaders do the right thing” and others followed.  Kelley (2010) suggest that followership is “[…] an active engagement in helping and organizations or a cause succeed while exercising independent, critical judgment of goals tasks potential problems and methods (p. 181).”  I synthesize these thoughts to imply that followers are resources that require attention and care since they do act in an independent fashion and that coupled with some of Den Hartog, House, Hanges, Ruiz-Quintanilla and Dorfman (1999) observations, it may appear that leaders are more manipulative than altruism on behalf of the follower.

Overlaying my perception as a follower against the literature, I would suggest that the leader-followership relationship requires synergy for its fullest potential.  Leaders need to lead, followers need to follow and then the system works, however, the needs of each differ from scenario to scenario hence the plethora of leadership theories (Bass & Bass, 2008).  I would submit that there is a need to more research on followership.  Hickman ends the essay by contrasting followership in 1977 then there were only three articles in the literature about followership.  In 2003, after a Google search there were 10,589 hits on the word follower and 3,950 hits on followership researcher.  In my unscientific methods, I did the same this weekend and the tallies were; 1.3M hits on the words followership and 344,000 hits on followership research.  To create a greater contrast, I did the same of leadership (502M hits) and leadership research (27.3M hits) (Google, n.d.); 386 times more of leadership than followership and 80 time more leadership research than followership research.  I find the variance bigger than expected and after all, its the follower that executes.  Why such a big variance?


Bass, B. M., & Bass, R. (2008). The Bass handbook of leadership : theory, research, and managerial applications (4th ed.). New York: Free Press.

Den Hartog, D. N., House, R. J., Hanges, P. J., Ruiz-Quintanilla, S. A., & Dorfman, P. W. (1999). Culture specific and cross-culturally generalizable implicit leadership theories: Are attributes of charismatic/transformational leadership universally endorsed? The Leadership Quarterly, 10(2), 219-256.

Kent, T., Crotts, J., & Azziz, A. (2001). Four factors of transformational leadership behavior. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 22(5), 221-229

Kelly, R (2002) in Hickman, G. R. (2010). Leading change in multiple contexts : concepts and practices in organizational, community, political, social, and global change settings. Los Angeles: SAGE.

Globalization is an initial step to localization

A challenge that all companies that would like to participate in the global economy is that of localization (Marquardt & Horvath, 2001).  Unless the world will adapt one culture, this is a permanent staple in operating a global company.  To transcend this challenge, diversity in groups, both culturally and spatially, are requirements to successfully compete.  Having people located throughout the world provides this advantage to those that try to virtually serve their customers (Marquardt & Horvath, 2001, p.14).  It appears that Arthur Anderson (now Accenture) utilize a global team to develop and deploy and global payroll application.  The value in starting from the beginning with a global team was that once the application was ready for mass consumer consumption, the people around the globe that worked on the project would be able to market, sell and support this application with cultural considerations already addressed (Marquardt & Horvath, 2001).  In a similar fashion, GM’s global team, once entrenched in localizing, was able to connect with partners and other associates and resources to expand their offerings, especially when it came to learning and training on their products.  Such a strategy would not be feasible with a virtual team (Marquardt & Horvath, 2001).


Marquardt, M. J., & Horvath, L. (2001). Global teams : how top multinationals span boundaries and cultures with high-speed teamwork (1st ed.). Palo Alto, Calif.: Davies-Black Pub.

The Complexity of Complex Adaptive Systems

With regard to a YouTube video with Ralph Stacey speaking, I regressed back to a theory that I researched last year with a coworker of mine, symbolic interactionism; a sociological theory that emphasizes micro social interaction (Stryker, 1987).  In essence, human interacts to create meaning, and place those meaning on symbols and alike, but it is this interaction that is the vehicle that moves the definitions forward (Stryker, 1987).  In this video, Stacey (n.d.) suggests two types of organizations; one that is formed through the dominance of a group through their intentions and plans while the other is created by the people of the organization in its entirety as their interactions bleed through a pattern hence evolving into an organization.  Stacey never alludes to symbolic interactionism however, I submit that its this sociological theory that underlies and gives presence to this type of complex adaptive organization.

In addition, when reading Regine and Lewin (2000) and then when listening to the YouTube video, it appeared as Stacey was speaking in circles.  However, as I listened again, actively, it wasn’t in circles, but potentially circular logic and that is when I went back to symbolic interactionism, because it appeared that Stacey was missing a force; the energy that is required to create the meaning.  He alluded to interaction, but fell short of explaining the outcome, but close in the last few seconds.  Comments are welcome to my random thought.


Interview med Ralph Stacey- YouTube (n.d.). YouTube – Broadcast Yourself.    . Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTAV7-FZLRs&feature=related

Regine, B. & Lewin, R. (2000). Leading at the edge: How leaders influence complex systems. Emergence, 2(2), 5-23.

Stryker, S. (1987). The vitalization of symbolic interactionism. Social Psychology Quarterly, 50(1), 83-94. doi: 10.2307/2786893


Future Views on Leadership

To all leadership scholars and thought leaders – What do we know now such that we have the ability to predict the needs, means, and effects of future research and learning for new organization leader roles in multinational environments?

It appears that time controls context, and coupled with technological advancements, though time is a constant, the change in velocity of events along with new dimensions of context, such as culture, moves us in a non-linear fashion (Lewin & Regine, n.d.; Thoughts on time: Give of yourself now, 2002).  The scholarly cliché “Standing on the shoulders of giants” though apropos for the method of study, may not be as relevant as it pertains to the findings we hold dear.  For example, in the context of an eastern culture, does transactional leadership (Bass & Bass, 2008) really have relevance?  Given Hofstede’s (1980) view of power distance, the concept of exchange of service with compensation does not seem to have meaning.  Introduce the dimension of time, does Machiavellianism have a place in the annals of proactive leadership?  Constructed in the 1500’s, Machiavellian leadership submitted that the use of coercion and deceit were viable means to reach the desired ends and was accepted as a ‘style’ (Bass & Bass, 2008).

As scholars in this field, we need to consider the entire perspective of the literature and reapply new assumptions to adhere to our current environment.  The literature provides a point in time view of leadership, however, these finds may not be ones that can transcend the test of time.  Not all is lost, however, assumption that drive our thinking required revisiting and potentiality ‘re-study’ as dimensions such as culture and velocity of events were not for consideration.  What other dimensions are game changing, in our field, that were not considered in the past?


Bass, B. M., & Bass, R. (2008). The Bass handbook of leadership : theory, research, and managerial applications (4th ed.). New York: Free Press.

Hofstede, G. (1980). Motivation, Leadership, and Organization: Do American Theories Apply Abroad? [Article]. Organizational Dynamics, 9(1), 42-63.

Lewin, R., & Regine, B. (n.d.). Leading at the Edge: How Leaders influence Complex Systems. Harvest Associates. Retrieved January 28, 2012, from http://www.thesoulatwork.com/pubs/emerge.html

“Thoughts on time: Give of yourself now.(University of Colorado professor Phillip K. Tompkins)(Transcript).” Vital Speeches of the Day. 2002. Retrieved January 28, 2012 from accessmylibrary: http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-24988031_ITM