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: 10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.124
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.