Papers and Articles
Several of the following papers and articles have been published in academic or professional journals. A number have been reproduced in other media. Some of these provide a more in-depth explanation of the distinctive view of organizational dynamics that underpins our consultancy practice.
All of the documents are written in language that is readily accessible to the general management reader. However, some explore the topic in more technical depth than others. For ease of reference, the latter carry the label: IN DEPTH.
You can obtain copies of any of these documents for your personal use by ‘clicking on’ the relevant download buttons.
Taking Organisational Complexity Seriously
A White Paper published by the Centre for Progressive Leadership in July 2013. IN DEPTH
"... it’s not credible to say in one breath that the dynamics of organisation are complex and then, in the next, to suggest that the use of specific concepts, tools or techniques will enable managers to predict, choose or control what emerges. "
Hubris Syndrome: An emergent outcome of the complex social process of everyday interaction?
A paper produced for the Daedalus Trust in September 2011. IN DEPTH
"... the proposition here is that it is the contradiction between the complex social dynamics of real-life organizations and the currently dominant view of what leaders are supposed to do that creates ideal conditions for 'hubris syndrome' to arise. "
Re-issued as an article “from the Treasure Chest” in the Winter 2012 edition of AMED’s on-line journal e-O&P (originally published in February 2007).
“The gap between desired change and achieved change can be down to a failure to recognise the hidden, messy, and informal dynamics of complex organisational life. Deliberate, informed engagement with these inevitable, informal coalitions is a leader's only meaningful choice.”
Book Review: Complexity and Organizational Reality - Ralph D. Stacey (Routledge, 2010)
This book review by Chris Rodgers was originally published in March 2011, in the journal
“The world’s major financial institutions, commercial organisations and public bodies are peopled by scores of MBA graduates, advised by the world’s foremost consultancies, and informed by millions of research papers, books and journals on business and organisational performance. Despite this, the global economy plunged into a crisis that nobody planned, few predicted and none of these ‘highly tuned’ organisations was able to control. How could this be? And, equally significantly, how is it that most things have gone on largely ‘as normal’ in the face of these high-level failures?
Coalitions, conversations and complexity: the challenge of change in the public sector
Article published in November 2010 edition of The International Journal of Leadership in Public Service.
"Research consistently suggests that, despite the plethora of tools and techniques, the success rate of organisational change is poor. This paper argues that this is due, in large part, to the failure of conventional management practice to take account of the inherent messiness of ‘real-world’ organisations."
The Parliament of Formal and Informal Coalitions
A 2010 guest article for The Change Journey,describing one of the ‘locations’ on the Change Journey Map
“… recognizes that life in organizations is inherently political - a complex social process of people constructing the future together through their everyday conversations.”
Organisational change and development during the recession - and beyond
Article published in AMED's Organisations and People Vol17 (March 2010), www.amaed.org.uk
" Organisations are dynamic networks of self-organising conversations ... The first question that any OD/change strategy needs to address is 'What is the business agenda?'"
A Lateral Look at the Dynamics of Organizational Change
A competition entry published in June 2009 on the (now defunct) de Bono Society website
"Today, [Edward] de Bono is thought of primarily as an author and teacher of creative thinking techniques. However… the principles of ‘brain dynamics’ that underpin his writing and teaching provide some equally important insights into the dynamics of organizations, if managers and organizational specialists are prepared to look for them."
Discipline in Organizations - On ‘hot stove rules’, performance conversations and an opportunity to learn
Article used by Ontario Ministry of Education, Canada in 2008
“… discipline needs to be reframed in managers’ thinking. It needs to be seen as contributing to the management of organizational performance ‘in the round’, not simply as a tool of operational HR aimed at dealing with the poor performance of individuals.”
Leading change through informal coalitions
Article originally published in Lane4's Journal of Excellence, 2008.
"In looking to improve the odds of achieving more successful organisational change, the only meaningful choice that managers have is whether or not to engage with the complex social dynamics of their organisations in a deliberate and informed way."
Is it WISE to be SMART?
Article originally published in Effective Consulting magazine in August 2002.
“Perhaps it is time to ask if the use of SMART targets to manage performance is wise, in a complex, uncertain and rapidly changing world.”
Talk and Action – Team Mates Not Rivals!
Article originally published in February 2000 by LearningBuzz.com
“It might be more useful to adopt a perspective that sees talk and action as interdependent - team mates, not rivals, in the quest for improved organisational performance.”
From Lateral Moves to Lateral Thinking
A version of this article was originally published in the February 1999 edition of People Management
“In an environment of constant change, it is no longer realistic to attempt to map out career paths in definitive terms. The aim instead should be to adapt the organisation continually: exploiting its collective strengths for business benefit, rather than pigeonholing today's individuals for future positions in yesterday's jobs.”