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The Seeds Of Change Published: Sunday, September 9, 2001 By: Dr. Manuel Ángel Morales

Albert Einstein once instructed that there are only two ways to live your live. One is though nothing is a miracle. The other is as through everything is a miracle. So last Friday, during a working business session, a distinguished woman told me that what we were discussing was highly related on how to introduce a change management within this already benchmarking institution. She was right and we were reflecting on how to produce a sustained and deliberated miracle within the referred institution. The aim was to accelerate organizational breakthroughs, producing new changes by constructively adopting the power of the positive core and simply letting go of the negative accounts.

The working challenge of this kind of work is addressing real and significant problems. Following a huge research, base and more than 300 hundred practical experiences, we have adopted some central rules that are fundamental for engaging in this type of ventures (Cooperrider, Whitney, Srivastra, Hammond, Morales and Pabón, among others).

  1. The Constructionist or Edification Rule: Human knowledge and organizational destiny are interwoven. To be effective we must understand organizations as living, human constructions. We are constantly involved in working to understand reality by doing environmental scans, audits and surveys. These are necessary, but we need to replace the individual with the relationship as the locus of usable knowledge, valuing the power of language to create that sense of reality. Research is inseparable from action. The whole idea behind a change program is to create a generative theory or interpretation, not of yesterday’s world but of tomorrow’s possibilities. The elements are inquiry, vision, design and path. 
  2. The Simultaneity Rule: Research and change are not separate moments but they are simultaneous. Research is intervention. The seeds of change (the things people think and talk about, the things people discover and learn, and the things that inform dialogue and inspire images of the future) are implicit in the questions we ask and set the stage for the answers we receive and find. Thus, Einstein’s great predicament that nature is good to human beings as long as they ask nature many, many questions. Within any question we can find a hidden rough answer… Questions should generate conversations, working sessions about the good, the better and the possible.
  3. The Poetic Rule: Human organizations are like open books. Whenever you address a change management possibility, stories of all sort come to the surface. Pasts, presents and futures are endless sources of learning, inspiration and interpretation. They present endless interpretative possibilities as in the case of a good poem. We must consider key topics of human experiences as for example the nature of alienation, joy, enthusiasm, low morale, silence, cynicism, efficiency or excess in any organization.
  4. The world out there must not conditioned our research, but rather our understanding that the topics are products of social processes (culture habits, rethoric, power relations). We have to be careful that we are not recycling the some worlds over and over again, engaging in boring intellectual and organizational exercises.
  5. The Anticipatory Rule: The positive image of the future lead people to positive actions and this is the solid foundation for increasingly energizing human and institutional action. By the way, the opposite is also true… Aristotle said long ago that a vivid imagination compels the whole body to obey it.
  6. The Positive Rule: Building and sustaining momentum for change requires large amount of faith, hope, human quality, excitement, inspiration, urgent purpose, universal knowledge, sheer joy and social bonding for creating something meaningful together that establishes a legacy.

It is like Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world and its institutions”.

 


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