On Monday I asked whether changing culture is easier said than done. On Wednesday I set out three ways of seeing organisations. In my final blog today I suggest possible ways to make use of these insights in enabling culture change.
Even the most powerful leaders cannot hope to direct the personal values, beliefs and attitudes of members of the organisation. They can instead decide to create a framework in which innovation and growth flourish.
The three archetypal ways of seeing organisations can each contribute to designing this framework.
The Engineer can help us construct roles, reporting lines and business processes that enable change. Innovation probably thrives best in structures where controls are minimised and individuals have as much responsibility as they can manage.
The Therapist sees organisations as networks of personal relationships, constructive or otherwise. He counsels us to pay attention to the quality of our dialogues, from running meetings in which everyone gets heard, to mastering the tricky arts of the honest conversation.
The Artist invites us to celebrate those individuals and groups who take it on themselves to evolve the organisation. Margaret Wheatley draws on modern theories of how the universe is made to argue that where purpose is present, “employees can be trusted to move freely, drawn in many directions by their energy and creativity”. Under those conditions, people at all levels can also create the connections through which ideas challenging conventional wisdom are developed, tested and spread.
 Leadership as the New Science, 1992
Image: Circular Tire Tracks on Highway 9 by Vicki and Chuck Rogers used under Creative Commons licence
Please note: Innovation is a complex subject and there are many perspectives on what innovation is and how to do it. This blog site provides the space to explore a broad range of ideas and opinions. Its content should not necessarily be taken as Government policy.