The Change Handbook: The Definitive Resource on Today's Best Methods for Engaging Whole Systems

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The Change Handbook features chapters by the originators and foremost practitioners of such high-leverage change methods as Future Search, Real Time Strategic Change, Gemba Kaizen, and Open Space Technology. The authors outline distinctive aspects of their approach; detail roles and responsibilities; share a story illustrating usage; and answer frequently asked questions about how to put it into practice. Examples of successful change efforts acquaint readers with the diverse array of methods being employed today. A one-stop comparative chart allows them to evaluate the methods to determine what will work best fro them, and an in-depth reference section helps them locate the resources they need to get started.

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1. The Big Picture: Making Sense of More Than Sixty Methods

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The Big Picture

Making Sense of More Than

Sixty Methods

Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.

—Albert Einstein

Whole system change methods continue to increase in recognition, variety, and use. The first edition of this book included 18 methods and just a few short years later, there are more than 60 methods in this second edition. This creative explosion provides great opportunities for reaching further into organizations and communities to engage people in making a positive and productive difference.

So, let’s say you need to make a change, you have looked at a variety of methods, and you come across this compendium of more than 60 methods. Where do you start? What’s the difference between one method and another . . . how do you make sense of them all? How do you speak intelligently about them . . . helping clients, coworkers, employees, community members, stakeholders, leaders . . . understand the distinctions? WHAT DO YOU DO? This chapter defines seven characteristics to help you see the whole of the methods available to support your work.

 

2. Selecting Methods: The Art of Mastery

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Selecting Methods

The Art of Mastery

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.

We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

—Albert Einstein

If you watch footage of the 70+-year-old founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba (1883–1969), practicing his martial art, you will see men more than half his age are rushing at him; with little effort, the master flings one person this way and another that way.1 It’s hard to actually believe this elderly man of slight build could be seriously doing this . . . and he was. Master Ueshiba began his journey to the invention of Aikido through blending other combat methods. He would bring aspects of the various methods together in an instant to meet the moment. In mastering each of these methods and then blending them, he discovered that they shared common principles. He combined their essence into a new form called Aikido. He considered Aikido to be advancement beyond the originating methods. Aikido is an art in which each training session is a step in the quest for perfection, where the apprentice learns through practice to be patient, relaxed, and focused while acting intuitively.2

 

3. Preparing to Mix and Match Methods

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Preparing to Mix and

Match Methods

Great leaders are identified by their ability to perceive the nature of the game and the rules by which it is played as they are playing it. In other words, the act of sense making is discovering the new terrain as you are inventing it.

—Brian Arthur

A question that often arises when working with whole system change is: Can you use multiple methodologies together? While the simple answer is yes, the practical answer is much more involved. Mastering the art of blending and innovating new practices looks easy on the surface, yet it is a lifetime’s work.

The work begins with preparation. Preparation is vital because change work affects people’s lives and livelihoods. It is an awesome responsibility to support organizations and communities who wish to engage people in shaping their future. We, as practitioners, do so by creating “containers,” energetic and psychic spaces that support people in learning and working well together. Well-prepared containers are grounded in purpose, engage a relevant diversity of participants, and involve mindfully chosen processes and environments that serve the purpose and people well.1 Such containers “create circumstances in which democracy breaks out, environments in which it just happens.”2 They enable people to take control of their own situations, compelling facilitators and traditional leaders to move more and more out of the way. As projects involve more people and larger systems, the stakes get higher and the choices more complex.

 

4. Sustainability of Results

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Sustainability of Results

Well you know you got it if it makes you feel good.

—Janis Joplin

All too often when a large-scale change effort is nearing its end, some bright-eyed change agent asks, “What shall we do about sustainability of this effort?” It’s great to ask the question, but it’s the absolutely wrong place to ask it. Dead wrong. We need to stop thinking about sustainability at the end of a change effort, and move it to its rightful place for full, formal consideration—at the start of a change effort.

As uncomfortable as it may be to consider, many well-intentioned people often contribute to setting up their organizations and communities for failure. For example, we may consciously ignore things that down deep we know we should pay attention to (oh, those people in the engineering department won’t try to block this change . . . ). Or we may inadvertently miss things that later become important. The good news is that by paying attention to a few key elements at the start, we can dramatically impact sustainability. In this chapter, we hope to move sustainability from “back of mind” to “front of mind.” I have included some pragmatic insights into that elusive concept of sustainability and provided some practical tips on how to create conditions that will increase its likelihood. The chapter is organized into the following sections:

 

5. Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change

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Appreciative Inquiry

A Positive Revolution in Change

Be the change you want to see in the world.

—Gandhi

Approaching Problems from the Other Side

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) begins an adventure. Even in the first steps, one senses an exciting new direction in our language and theories of change—an invitation, as some have declared, to “a positive revolution.” The words just quoted are strong and, unfortunately, they are not ours. But the more we replay the high-wire moments of our five years of work at GTE/Verizon,1 the more we find ourselves asking the same kinds of questions the people of GTE asked their senior executives: “Are you ready for the momentum that is being generated? This is igniting a grassroots movement . . . it is creating an organization in full voice, a center stage for positive revolutionaries!”

Tom White, president of what was then called GTE Telops (with 80 percent of GTE’s

67,000 employees), replied with no hesitation: “Yes, and what I see in this meeting are zealots, people with a mission and passion for creating the new GTE. Count me in, I’m your number one zealot.” People cheered.

 

6. Collaborative Loops

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Collaborative Loops

—Buckminster Fuller

Making a Difference at Fraser Health Authority

The Collaborative Loops process—an engagement-based approach to organizational change—is making a difference at Fraser Health Authority.

Fraser Health, located on the lower mainland of British Columbia, is responsible for the delivery of all publicly funded acute and community health-care services for the 1.5 million people who live in the largest and fastest growing health-care region in Canada. In practical terms, this means everything from public health issues like immunizations, to end-of-life issues like hospice. In 2001, three separate health-care regions were merged to form this 23,000-person organization, which includes hospitals, clinics, nearly 2,200 physicians, and community health facilities. Fraser works within an annual budget of $1.8 billion.

The Collaborative Loops process brings dissimilar project teams together in a workshop setting to develop their own change processes. Rather than relying on a set methodology, people are freed to develop their own strategies. By providing frameworks and principles, participants are then able to use their own experience to create more effective change. The teams share insights and provide feedback, stimulating innovation and learning. This in turn strengthens the bonds within and among the teams and dramatically improves the organization as a whole. Each team learns to create a Collaborative Loop using the four engagement principles: (1) widen the circle of involvement, (2) connect people to each other, (3) create communities for action, and

 

7. Dialogue and Deliberation

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Dialogue and Deliberation

All great changes begin in conversation.

Dialogue and Deliberation

—Juanita Brown

Annual Diversity Celebrations

Waterloo, Iowa, a city with a predominantly white population, experienced an influx of Hispanics, Bosnians, and other immigrants in the late 1990s, creating tensions over housing, jobs, social services, and health care. The City of Waterloo Commission on Human Rights, in partnership with the Cedar Valley Diversity Appreciation Team, responded by organizing community-wide

“study circles”—multiple small-group dialogues held in different places throughout the community that culminate in collective action based on common ground. Since 1998, more than 2,000 adults and 600 youths have taken part in study circles on racism and race relations, policecommunity relations, and prevention of youth violence.

Among other things, Waterloo’s community dialogue effort has led to annual diversity celebrations that help decrease stereotyping of ethnic groups and neighborhoods, improved cultural competence skills of Waterloo police officers, and increased awareness among teachers and public school administrators of the impact of race on teaching methods and student achievement.

 

8. Integrated Clarity: Energizing How We Talk and What We Talk about in Organizations

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Integrated Clarity

Energizing How We Talk and What We

Talk About in Organizations

Change is situational. . . . Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation. Change is external, transition is internal.

—William Bridges

Integrated Clarity

Meeting the Needs of Both the People and the Organization

Lovers do it. Families do it. Now organizations and communities are doing it, too, with surprising results. Talking about needs, that is.

Dr. Michael Shafer can testify to that. “We definitely gave voice to our organization needs, creating a palpable cohesion among our team. What we learned about our direction, strengths and challenges served to create our blueprint for the future.”

Shafer is founder and executive director of Applied Behavioral Health Policy (ABHP), a team of 27 researchers, evaluators, and trainers at the University of Arizona.1 An entrepreneurial group, ABHP has raised more than $21 million in grants and contracts since its founding in

 

9. Open Space Technology

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harrison owen

Open Space Technology

The times, they are a-changin’.

—Bob Dylan

Three Stories

Open Space at Work

It was a bold experiment, not unlike jumping out of an airplane without knowing if the parachute was functioning. One morning, the Rockport Company, a subsidiary of Reebok International, closed for two days. No shoes were shipped. No orders were processed. The head office was locked.

Except for a skeleton crew left behind to answer the phones, the company’s entire workforce gathered in a cavernous warehouse at the distribution center. The president and his senior executives, many of whom questioned his judgment in shutting down a $300M operation, were there.

Managers, clerks, supervisors, and dockworkers—350 people in all—milled around uncertainly.

There had been no extensive planning for this day, no agenda set. No one had the foggiest notion of what would happen during the two-day meeting. As the tension built, the consultant stepped into the center of the loosely formed circle and introduced the gathering to Open Space

 

10. The Technology of Participation

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The Technology of Participation

—R. Pascale, M. Millemann, and L. Gioja

Eradicating Meningitis

Meningitis epidemics occur with predictable regularity in some of the poorest countries in the world. Following a predictable cycle, nearly 200,000 cases were reported in the “meningitis belt” of Sub-Saharan Africa in the last major outbreak, killing and debilitating thousands.

Eradicating this menace is the aim of MVP, the Meningitis Vaccine Project, a unique partnership between the World Health Organization (WHO) and Seattle-based Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH). MVP is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In October 2002, MVP used the Technology of Participation (ToP)® methods to create a

five-year strategic plan to address the question, “What must the WHO/PATH partnership do as a team by 2007 to successfully deliver on the mission of the Meningitis Vaccine Project?” To create the plan, ten WHO and PATH staff members met for two lively days at MVP’s offices in FerneyVoltaire, France.

 

11. Whole-Scale Change

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Whole-Scale Change

And so, next generation . . . we pioneers are moving to the next learning environment, and leaving this one to you. My assignment to you, before I go, is the following: Stand on the shoulders of the pioneers who went before you . . . honor and learn from us, and then spring into the future with new and robust concepts that will be more than we old-timers ever dreamed of.

You are the creative minds of this unfolding Millennium.

Whole-Scale Change

—Kathleen D. Dannemiller (1929–2003)

Covenant HomeCare:The Case for Change

Covenant HomeCare provides comprehensive home-care services within 16 counties in east

Tennessee. HomeCare is one of many affiliates of a regional nonprofit health-care system. Prior to the sweeping changes brought by the Federal Balanced Budget Act of 1997, the agency provided approximately 250,000 home health visits annually.

In 2000, HomeCare faced dramatic declines in patient admissions and visits. In October

2000, HomeCare faced a steep decline in Medicare and TennCare reimbursement when changes to the home health services payment system replaced the old reasonable costs-based system.

 

12. The World Café

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The World Café

In the new economy conversations are the most important form of work.

—Alan Webber, Harvard Business Review

What We Know About How Organizations Learn

Several years ago, Meg Wheatley and Juanita Brown, under the auspices of the Berkana Institute, were cohosting a program on living systems. They introduced an innovative approach to large group dialogue, called the World Café. Bob Veazie, an engineer at Hewlett Packard, was among the participants that day. Deeply touched by the experience, here’s how he recalls the Café’s impact:

World Café

The core question posed for the Café was, “What do we believe we know about how organizations learn?” We had twenty minutes or so for each table of four to explore the question. Then one person stayed at the table and the rest moved to other Café tables, met new people and continued the dialogue. Everyone was very actively involved, the energy and volume were high, and people brought different aspects of what they learned from their last tables to their new conversations. It was very exciting, but very disturbing at the same time.

 

13. Ancient Wisdom Council

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Ancient Wisdom Council

The first people had questions and they were free. The second people had answers and they became enslaved.

—Native American Wisdom

Way of the Council:Using Universal Intelligences

The CEO of a major telecommunications organization stands in the center of a circle of 500 employees. They are seated in ascending rings of chairs arranged in groups of the eight colors of the rainbow.1 “We are at a major crossroads in the life of our organization,” he begins. “We have a significant opportunity to take this division to a new level. This is not going to happen because of me. It is going to happen because of you. And as a result, I will be able to play more golf.” He continues, “I want this company of talented people to become self-directed, self-motivated, and self-organized. You can do it, take over this company! For the next few days, we shall engage each other in council to infuse new life into this company.”

This opened an intensive five days with members of the Central and South American division. Using the Ancient Wisdom Council, they restructured and revitalized their organization, adapting to new opportunities and conditions evolving in their field.

 

14. Appreciative Inquiry Summit

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adaptable methods

The Basics

What Is an Appreciative Inquiry Summit?

The Appreciative Inquiry Summit is a large-group method for accelerating positive change in organizations and communities by involving a broad range of internal and external stakeholders in the process.1 It is typically a single event or series of events (usually three to five days in length) that bring people together to (1) discover the organization or community’s core competencies and strengths; (2) envision opportunities for positive change; (3) design the desired changes into the organization or community’s systems, structures, strategies, and culture; and (4) implement and sustain the changes and make them work. AI Summits range from 30 to 3,000 people, and include more using online technology. Because of the power of wholeness and democratic self-organizing, the closer summits get to including every member of the system, the more dramatic and sustainable the impact.

Benefits of an AI Summit

Over the years, we have noticed several positive outcomes from summit interventions, including:

 

15. The Conference Model

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The Conference Model

The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.

—Helen Keller

Redesigning Three Divisions of a Major U.S.Bank

A major U.S. bank involved employees, customers, and suppliers to redesign three divisions. In each case, hundreds of people participated in a series of two-day conferences where they identified their dreams for the future, examined customer relationships, identified how to improve critical organizational disconnects, and designed new organizational processes and structures.

The results: The Human Resources Division provided better service to its internal customers, the Mortgage Lending Division reduced costs by 25 percent and was named the corporation’s Service Center of the Year, and the Home Equity Division saved millions of dollars. The organization went on to use what they learned from their Conference Model® experiences to engage employees in subsequent mergers and acquisitions.

 

16. Consensus Decision Making

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Consensus Decision Making

Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.

—Harry Emerson Fosdick

Real-Life Story

It was 1984 and the Green Party was attempting its first large organizational meeting in the

United States. More than one hundred activists had gathered for a weekend in St. Paul, Minnesota, to launch the movement. As the hours lengthened, frustrations grew. Well into the second day, as one participant tells it, the group was a “fractious mess,” and the term “still birth” was being thrown around to describe what was happening. As this final day drew toward a close, the assembly was stalemated on whether to call a national convention the following year. Many saw the need, but with no resources, no plan, and no organizing team in place, tensions were high and participants were anxious to head home. While there were calls to vote by majority, facilitator Caroline Estes stubbornly persisted in the belief that a consensus solution was possible.

 

17. Conversation Café

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Conversation Café

How do I listen to others? As if everyone were my Master speaking to me his cherished last words.

—Hafiz

Passionate About Intimacy

I’m sitting next to Jerry Garcia at the Grateful Bread coffeehouse. Okay, I’m actually sitting next to a life-size painting of Jerry—so, like everyone else in the café, I am technically alone. Typical, isn’t it, in our disconnected world? Ten people, and just one person per table. But tonight is different—it’s Thursday evening, Conversation Café time.

Five regulars and three drop-ins arrive, get their tea or coffee and snacks, and settle in. We are engaging in a strangely normal activity. We’re talking to strangers. We have followed the first rule of good conversation: showing up. In six weeks of meetings, I’ve noticed three basic ingredients to the magic of Conversation Cafés: showing up, shutting up, and speaking up.

Showing up is not only arriving in time to talk. It’s arriving in soul, ready to engage. Shutting up is about listening deeply. It’s having as much curiosity about what others say as about parading out one’s own opinions. Speaking up is taking a risk by saying what’s real for you. Ah, and there’s a fourth rule: “Up.” Conversing to enrich everyone. Good conversation has the quality of an infinite game. You play for play, not for winning.

 

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