It makes sense to view business as a vast ecosystem similar to what would be found in nature. There are several different types of entities acting through different kinds of inner drives, affecting others and being affected in return. Each entity has a different interest, but when they are all assembled together, they are all necessary to maintain the overall health of the larger ecosystem. The same holds true for all of the parts of an organization.

The Science of Organizational Change

Continuing with the perspective of systems, a system cannot understand itself. That understanding is best arrived at with a view from the outside. An outside view can see through the noise being generated to the kernels of profound knowledge that are at the core of that system. W. Edwards Deming provides a clear model for a framework for this overall systems views with these four competencies.

  •  An Appreciation for a System
  •  Knowledge about Normal and Abnormal Variation within that System
  •  The Theory of Knowledge and the Scientific Method
  •  Psychology

Without these competencies on the part of top management, anosognosia can set in. Anosognosia is defined as a condition in which someone suffering from a disability seems unaware of that disability. That lack of insight can sometimes include unawareness of severe impairments. This term can sometimes be applied to organizations that are only benefiting from the views of those on the inside.

Change and the Laws of Physics

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It just seems that many large organizations are suffering from a version of this when it comes to managing the pace of change in their development. For example, one can throw a baseball and get it moving fairly easily. Try that with a cannonball. The same principle of physics holds true when it comes to the agility for change in organizations. It simply takes more energy and time to move that larger object over the same distance.

Those organizations that try to move through a significant change too quickly may suffer from their own version of psychosis and therefore not have the insight to recognize that they are experiencing some self-inflicted problems. They may be holding some misleading ideas about how the changes are taking place or perhaps even some delusions where they are seeing or hearing things that aren’t really happening. Like the story of the Emperor’s new clothes, the “subjects” of these organizations may often be reluctant to bring the truth to their leaders.

There are resources available for this outside view and it is recommended that they be used because, until that time when business leaders can get a good systems view of their organizations, it appears that swift changes in a business would tend to be the domain of smaller organizations that don’t have all of this inertia to overcome.