Thursday, December 19, 2013

Organizational Development: Polarities

"Improving organizations requires understanding them. Understanding anything as complex as modern organizations points to the importance of good theory. While this may sound academic to those who labor in the organizational trenches, good theories are pragmatic and grounded. They explain and predict. They serve as frameworks for making sense of the world around us, organizing diverse forms and sources of information, and taking informed action." - Joan Gallos

As I reflect on the learnings I've gleaned this year in Management and Organizational Leadership, I start with the obvious:
A plethora of tools, stakeholder analyses, asset maps, situational analyses, communication plans, project management plans and strategies, etc.
Theories to understand their application: Systems thinking, Morgan's organizational metaphors, Galbraith's Star Model, Hanna's Organizational Performance Model, Learning Organizations, Human Resource strategies etc.

All of these allow us to observe an organization through a particular lens. They give us a framework to look at the nuts and bolts of what's happening with an organization.

In a human metaphor, each tool gives us insight into particular aspects of any individual. We could study the structural skeleton of an individual, or their circulatory system. We might look at their cultural and anthropological history. If we're particularly adept, we seek to understand how each of these systems interacts with each other.

Every individual/organization is extremely unique. And at the same time, we are all of the same essence. Working with this polarity is fundamental to understanding universal truth.

Effective organizational development is founded in polarity management:
  • Horizontal or vertical growth
  • Parts or the whole
  • Conformity or creativity
  • Heuristic or algorithmic
  • Process or results
  • Feeling or thinking

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