Dialogic Organization Development

The Theory and Practice of Transformational Change

Gervase Bushe (Editor) | Robert Marshak (Editor) | Edgar Schein (Foreword by)

Publication date: 05/04/2015

Dialogic Organization Development

Dialogic Organization Development is a compelling alternative to the classical action research approach to planned change. Organizations are seen as fluid, socially constructed realities that are continuously created through conversations and images—change happens when those conversations and images change. Leaders and consultants can help foster, support, or accelerate the emergence of transformational possibilities by encouraging disruptions to taken-for-granted ways of thinking and acting and the use of generative images to stimulate new organizational conversations and narratives. Dialogic OD is a different mindset, but it’s also the previously unrecognized underpinning of a diverse array of change methods, such as Appreciative Inquiry, the Art of Convening, Open Space Technology, and many more.Dialogic Organization Development is a compelling alternative to the classical action research approach to planned change. Organizations are seen as fluid, socially constructed realities that are continuously created through conversations and images. Leaders and consultants can help foster change by encouraging disruptions to taken-for-granted ways of thinking and acting and the use of generative images to stimulate new organizational conversations and narratives. This book offers the first comprehensive introduction to Dialogic Organization Development with chapters by a global team of leading scholar-practitioners addressing both theoretical foundations and specific practices.

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Overview

Dialogic Organization Development is a compelling alternative to the classical action research approach to planned change. Organizations are seen as fluid, socially constructed realities that are continuously created through conversations and images—change happens when those conversations and images change. Leaders and consultants can help foster, support, or accelerate the emergence of transformational possibilities by encouraging disruptions to taken-for-granted ways of thinking and acting and the use of generative images to stimulate new organizational conversations and narratives. Dialogic OD is a different mindset, but it’s also the previously unrecognized underpinning of a diverse array of change methods, such as Appreciative Inquiry, the Art of Convening, Open Space Technology, and many more.Dialogic Organization Development is a compelling alternative to the classical action research approach to planned change. Organizations are seen as fluid, socially constructed realities that are continuously created through conversations and images. Leaders and consultants can help foster change by encouraging disruptions to taken-for-granted ways of thinking and acting and the use of generative images to stimulate new organizational conversations and narratives. This book offers the first comprehensive introduction to Dialogic Organization Development with chapters by a global team of leading scholar-practitioners addressing both theoretical foundations and specific practices.

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Meet the Editors


Visit Editor Page - Gervase Bushe

Gervase Bushe provides the following expertise to leaders and companies:

Working with leaders and change agents to design long term, organizational transformation processes that demonstrably change organizatonal cultures and engage large numbers of stakeholders in developing new ideas to solve complex, wicked problems (www.dialogicod.net). Watch this video

Teaching managers and professionals the skills and perspectives required to work and manage collaboratively through his internationally successful Clear Leaderhsip Course (www.clearlearning.ca). Watch this video

Providing  highly engaging, high impact presentations on both of the leadership of organizational transformation, and the design and leadership of collaborative organizations (www.gervasebushe.ca)

Gervase is the Professor of Leadership and Organization Development at the Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, and was recently named one of the world's 30 most influential people strategy thinkers by Britain's HR Magazine (http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/hr-most-influential).

Gervase’s career spans over three decades of transforming organizational structures, culture and processes away from command and control toward more collaborative work systems.  He is an award winning authour of over 80 papers and three books on organizational change, leadership, teams and teamwork.  Clear Leadership (2009) has been translated into 6 languages and he has won the prestigious Douglas McGregor award twice for his research papers. He has consulted to blue chip corporations and start-ups, public sector and business corporations, in a variety of sectors.  A recent organizational transformation, described in The Change Champions Field Guide, helped a Southern California healthcare company’s employee engagement scores go from the 61st to 91st percentile in three years.  His newest book, Dialogic Organization Development: The Theory and Practice of Transformational Change, co-edited with Robert Marshak (2015) (www.dialogicod.net) builds on his groundbreaking research into how appreciative inquiry leads to transformational change and is gathering international acclaim.

Gervase has a B.A. from Concordia University, a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve in Organizational Behavior.  He is also a graduate of the five year trainer development program from the Sir George Williams Centre for Human Relations and Community Studies in Montreal and a certified T-group facilitator.  He is on the editorial boards of both scholarly and practical journals. He has given talks and courses on leadership and organizational change methods in Canada, the US, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa.  He is an associate with consulting firms in Asia (The Gritti Group) Europe (Provins Fem AB, Advance Groep BV) Mexico (VeMejor S.C.) and the US (The Big Rapids Group) and a member of the NTL Institute of Applied Behavioral Science.

For the first twenty years of his career Dr. Bushe focused on the design of collaborative organizations and the change processes needed to transform large command and control organizations.   Over the past 15 years he has been studying the leadership and organizing processes needed to make these new organizational structures function effectively and the transformational change processes required for real cultural change.  His training and development company, Clear Learning Ltd. (www.clearlearning.ca) supports managers who want to lead highly collaborative teams and organizations through the elaboration of a partnership based theory of organizational design and leadership.  Over 100 certified facilitators have trained tens of thousands of managers in North America, Europe and Asia in his models and methods.

For a list of all publications and copies of recent articles visit his website at: www.gervasebushe.ca

For a list of public speaking clients, topics, testimonials and a short video visit www.gervasebushe.ca/pubspeak.htm



Visit Editor Page - Robert Marshak

Robert J. Marshak is Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence for Organization Development Programs at the School of Public Affairs,  American University, and has been an organizational consultant for more than forty years. He received the Organization Development Network's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000 and the Douglas McGregor Memorial Award for the Best Article in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science in 2009. He has published three books, including two with Berrett-Koehler, and more than 80 book chapters and articles in leading academic and practitioner journals.  Among the organizations Dr. Marshak has consulted with are  BASF, Exxon, GlaxoSmithKline, UNICEF, and a wide range of U.S. government agencies and offices.

Dr. Marshak has taught organization dynamics and change leadership in SPA since 1977. His areas of expertise include: organizational change and development, organizational discourse, and organization theory and behavior. Dr. Marshak has served on the Boards of NTL Institute and the Organization Development Network, and was Acting Editor of the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. He received the OD Network’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and is the author of over 85 publications on consulting and change. Dr. Marshak also held senior executive level positions in policy and management analysis in the US Government.



Foreword by Edgar Schein


THE AUTHOR- IN HIS OWN WORDS

My book Humble Inquiry represents a culmination and distillation of my 50 years of work as a social and organizational psychologist. After undergraduate training at the University of Chicago and Stanford, my Ph.D. training at Harvard’s Department of Social Relations in the early 1950s was as an experimental social psychologist. I then spent four years at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and began a gradual process of becoming more interested in the sociological details of what went on between people in various kinds of relationships. 

My first major research was on the indoctrination of military and civilian prisoners of the Chinese Communists (Coercive Persuasion, 1961), which led to an examination of such indoctrination in large corporations when I became a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1956. It seemed obvious that the important thing to study next was the process of interaction of the individual with the organization, which led to the successful coauthored book on this topic—Interpersonal Dynamics (coauthored with Warren Bennis, Fritz Steele, David Berlew, and later John Van Maanen, 3rd ed. 1973) and to an integrated text which helped to define the field (Organizational Psychology, 3rd ed. 1980). 

The indoctrination and socialization research led inevitably to the discovery through a 15-year panel study that in an open society like the United States, individuals will exercise choices and will be able to shape their careers around strong self images or “career anchors” (Career Dynamics, 1978; Career Anchors, 4th ed. coauthored with John Van Maanen, 2013). 

Working with Group Dynamics workshops in Bethel, Maine, and consulting with Digital Equipment Corporation for many years led to the concept of process consultation and the important discovery that the best path to helping people learn is not to tell them anything but to ask the right questions and let them figure it out. I first spelled this out in 1969 as a contribution to consultation methodology (Process Consultation, 1969; Process Consultation Revisited, 1999) and found that it applies in many interpersonal situations, especially when we try to give or receive help. 

All of these processes happen within a culture, so a more detailed study of organizational and occupational cultures led to intensive work on corporate culture—how to think about it, how to change it, and how to relate culture to other aspects of organizational performance. With Organizational Culture and Leadership (4th ed. 2010) and The Corporate Culture Survival Guide (2nd ed. 2009) I helped to define the field. 

The role of leaders as both creators of culture and ultimately victims of culture led to more detailed analyses of interpersonal processes and to two empirical studies of organizational cultures—Strategic Pragmatism: The Culture of Singapore’s Economic Development Board (1996) and DEC Is Dead, Long Live DEC: The Lasting Legacy of Digital Equipment Corporation (2003). 

The years of consulting, teaching, and coaching inevitably led to the realization that some processes such as Helping were not well understood and often poorly practiced. The book Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help (2009) was thus an attempt both to analyze and improve that process. It was in that analysis that I realized that Humble Inquiry is not just necessary when we give or receive help but is a more general form of asking that builds relationships. I realized further that building positive relationships is at the core of effective communication and getting work done safely and well. But my work on culture showed me, at the same time, why Humble Inquiry is difficult. 

The current book Humble Inquiry brings together all of these trends in showing how culture and individual behavior interact, and what it will take in the way of countercultural behavior to deal with the changes that are happening in the world. 

 

AUTHOR AWARDS

Ed has been recognized for his work with the Lifetime Achievement Award in Workplace Learning and Performance from the American Society of Training Directors (2000), the Everett Cherington Hughes Award for Career Scholarship from the Careers Division of the Academy of Management (2000), the Marion Gislason Award for Leadership in Executive Development from the Boston University School of Management Executive Development Roundtable (2002), the Lifetime Achievement Award as Scholar/ Practitioner from the Academy of Management (2009), and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Leadership Association (2012). 

After 48 years at MIT and after losing his wife in 2008, Ed moved to Palo Alto in 2011, where he is retired but still writing. He has three children and seven grandchildren who live in Seattle, New Jersey, and Menlo Park, California. You can reach him via his e-mail at [email protected]

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Dialogic Organization Development: Past, Present, and Future - Edgar H. Schein

Part I Introduction and Overview

1. Introduction to the Dialogic Organization Development Mindset - Gervase R. Bushe and Robert J. Marshak 

2. Introduction to the Practice of Dialogic OD - Gervase R. Bushe and Robert J. Marshak 

Part II Theoretical Bases of Dialogic Organization Development

3. Social Constructionist Challenge to Representational Knowledge: Implications for Understanding Organization Change - Frank J. Barrett 

4. Discourse and Dialogic Organization Development - Robert J. Marshak, David S. Grant, and Maurizio Floris 

5. Generative Image: Sourcing Novelty - Gervase R. Bushe and Jacob Storch 

6. Complexity, Self- Organization, and Emergence - Peggy Holman

7. Understanding Organizations as Complex Responsive Pro cesses of Relating - Ralph Stacey

8. Consulting as Collaborative Co-Inquiry - J. Kevin Barge 

Part III Practices of Dialogic Organization Development 

9. Enabling Change: Th e Skills of Dialogic OD - Jacob Storch 

10. Entering, Readiness, and Contracting for Dialogic Organization Development - Tova Averbuch 

11. Transformative Learning during Dialogic OD - Yabome Gilpin-Jackson

12. Framing Inquiry: The Art of Engaging Great Questions - Nancy Southern 

13. Hosting and Holding Containers - Chris Corrigan

14. From Them to Us: Working with Multiple Constituents in Dialogic OD - Ray Gordezky 

15. Amplifying Change: A Th ree- Phase Approach to Model, Nurture, and Embed Ideas for Change - Michael J. Roehrig, Joachim Schwendenwein, and Gervase R. Bushe 

16. Coaching from a Dialogic OD Paradigm - Chené Swart 

17. Dialogic Process Consultation: Working Live - Joan Goppelt and Keith W. Ray

  • Commentary on Dialogic Process Consultation - Patricia Shaw

Part IV Conclusion: The Path Ahead 

Gervase R. Bushe and Robert J. Marshak

Acknowledgments

Index 

List of Contributors

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Excerpt

Dialogic Organization Development

1
Introduction to the Dialogic Organization Development Mindset

Gervase R. Bushe and Robert J. Marshak

It is our contention that any specific instance of Organization Development practice is a product of the mindset of the practitioner; the combination of theories, beliefs, assumptions, and values that shape how one sees and engages the world. In this chapter we provide a brief introduction to what we call the “Dialogic OD Mindset.” Because we believe the practice of Dialogic OD involves a way of thinking that is significantly different from Diagnostic OD, we begin by contrasting it with a Diagnostic Mindset. It is important to understand that we do not believe that Dialogic and Diagnostic Mindsets are mutually exclusive. Most OD practitioners will be influenced to some extent by both. However, most OD textbooks currently teach only the Diagnostic Mindset, so we briefly highlight what we think that is and contrast it with the Dialogic Mindset. We then describe eight key premises about the nature of organizations and change, and three underlying change processes that are central to the ways in which Dialogic OD practitioners think about and engage in practices that differ in form and/or intent from the ones described in most OD textbooks. We conclude the chapter by discussing the similarities between the Diagnostic and Dialogic Mindsets, and why they are both variants of organization development.

The Foundational, Diagnostic Mindset

The Diagnostic OD Mindset and associated practices are based substantially on the social psychology and change theories developed in the 1940s and 1950s by Kurt Lewin and Ron Lippitt and their colleagues and followers (Lewin, 1947; Lippitt, Watson, and Westley, 1958). In this view, behavior is shaped by a field of forces that exist in a quasi-stable equilibrium. That field of forces is mainly a product of the social equilibrium within the groups that people belong to. Therefore, the focus of change in Lewinian thinking was the small group, not the individual. Change is conceptualized as a planned process of “unfreezing” a current social equilibrium, creating “movement” to a new and more desirable future equilibrium that then needs to be “refrozen” to sustain the change. While different strategies exist for how to promote change, OD rests mainly on a “normative-re-educative”change strategy (Chin and Benne, 1961) that requires the involvement of groups in learning processes. A central technique is participatory action research, involving those the practitioner wants to change in a process of self-study. Traditionally, action research begins with a “diagnosis” of the existing situation—the elements, factors, and forces maintaining the current state—in order to know where and how to intervene to induce unfreezing and movement in the direction of the desired state. The Diagnostic OD Mindset assumes that without diagnosis there are unclear or even mistaken beliefs about the causes for whatever problems or concerns managers and organizations face, and that collection and correct interpretation of the facts is a critical first step in addressing them (Marshak, 2013). Indeed, giving clients advice or taking action without first performing a diagnosis is considered malpractice by the Diagnostic OD Mindset. Hence Lewin’s famous dictum “No research without action, no action without research” (Marrow, 1969).

A second key element of the Diagnostic Mindset came from Lewin’s conception that within the social field of forces, some forces promote and some resist whatever change is desired. Lewin argued that reducing resistance was a more productive route to change than adding more force for change. As a result, the Diagnostic Mindset is especially interested in methods of identifying and reducing resistance. Participation in decision making is the key solution OD offers, aligned as it is with democratic and humanistic values and the need for a collective learning process to support change. This learning process usually involves engaging small groups (teams, task forces, diagonal slices of the organization) in an action research process intended to diagnose the real factors and forces impacting a situation, and thereby to create the motivation and commitment needed for unfreezing, movement, and refreezing. Ideally, those impacted by a change are involved in and/or perform the data collection, analysis, decision making, and action taking with the guidance of the OD consultant.

A third core element was added in the late 1960s when open systems theories became an integral part of OD (e.g., Emery and Trist, 1965; Katz and Kahn, 1966; Lawrence and Lorsch, 1969), leading to models of how organizational elements (mission, strategies, structures, systems, leadership, culture, etc.) needed to be aligned with each other and strategically responsive to external environments in order to position the organization for future success. The contrast of this new “organic” metaphor for organizations with the prevailing “machine” metaphor (Burns and Stalker, 1961) contributed to the notion of organizational health and healthy processes as a common element in the Diagnostic OD Mindset. Increasing organizational health was an explicit purpose in Beckhard’s early definition of OD (1969). Good diagnosis would uncover the ways in which any particular group or organization varied from the “healthy” ideal or was deficient in one way or another. Such diagnostic aspirations required ideal models of “healthy,” “effective,” “high performing,” or “world class” organizations to diagnose against (e.g., Burke, 2011; Weisbord, 1976; Nadler and Tushman, 1980). Tichy (1983), for example, offered an extensive diagnostic model of organizations composed of three interrelated subsystems: cultural, political, and technostructural. He provided methods for assessing the state of any organization in terms of those three subsystems, and guidance on how these systems should align with each other, depending on the organization’s environment.

The Diagnostic Mindset continues today through widespread interest in such things as discovering best practices, benchmarking against world-class organizations, collecting the “right” data, and continual searches for the singular cause of some problematic situation that can be fixed by applying analysis and expertise. Because this orientation tends to search for the “right answer,” “best solution,” “latest ideas,” and so on, there is also an implicit tendency to seek out experts who can supply tested solutions.

Briefly, then, the core elements of the Diagnostic OD Mindset that are most at variance with Dialogic OD involve conceptualizing organizations primarily as open systems that work best when all of their elements are in alignment and responsive to prevailing environmental conditions and competitive threats. The current state of the team, organization, or community can be diagnosed, using ideal models of organizational health to ascertain what aspects need to be changed and what means will best achieve the predetermined outcome. Change is episodic and results from a planned and managed process of unfreezing, movement, and refreezing. Furthermore, this is best done through a collaborative action research process emphasizing valid data, informed choice, and commitment (Argyris, 1973). Table 1.1, from Bushe and Marshak (2009), summarizes some of the broader differences between Diagnostic and Dialogic OD.

The Dialogic Mindset

At this point in time the nature of the Dialogic Mindset is a still-evolving convergence of newer premises, principles, and resulting practices that provides more of a fuzzy outline than a sharp definition. It is important to understand that the Dialogic OD Mindset is a newer orientation to the practice of OD that is not associated with any one specific method. There are dozens of methods that can be used dialogically, as shown in Table 1.2, but many of those methods can also be used diagnostically. It is one’s mindset that determines how one thinks about and engages situations, including selecting and mixing which methods and approaches to use.

Table 1.1 Contrasting Diagnostic and Dialogic Organization Development

Images

From Bushe & Marshak, 2009.

Take Appreciative Inquiry (AI), for example. No OD approach provides as much research and writing elucidating a Dialogic Mindset, yet numerous articles, some books, and most OD textbooks describe it from a Diagnostic OD perspective. The four AI phases of Discovery, Dream, Design, and Destiny are recast as phases of the familiar diagnostic process. The stories collected during Discovery become data to be analyzed to uncover the organization’s “positive core.” The Dream phase is cast as a way to identify a better (healthier) organization. The Design phase is used to come up with solutions for creating the desired future state. Finally, actions to realize that future state are to be implemented during the Destiny phase. Recasting AI in terms of a Diagnostic Mindset may make it seem similar to foundational OD approaches, but it also makes it more difficult to recognize and realize the potential of its dialogic premises and processes. This matters because although there is no reason AI cannot be used effectively with a Diagnostic Mindset in the right circumstances, Bushe and Kassam’s (2005) research found that only AI projects operating from some of the premises we describe as the Dialogic Mindset resulted in transformational change.

Table 1.2 Examples of Dialogic OD Methods


1. Art of Convening (Neal and Neal)

2. Art of Hosting (artofhosting.org)

3. Appreciative Inquiry (Cooperrider)

4. Charrettes (Lennertz)

5. Community Learning (Fulton)

6. Complex Responsive Processes of Relating (Stacey, Shaw)

7. Conference Model (Axelrod)

8. Coordinated Management of Meaning (Pearce & Cronen)

9. Cycle of Resolution (Levine)

10. Dynamic Facilitation (Rough)

11. Engaging Emergence (Holman)

12. Future Search (Weisbord)

13. Intergroup Dialogue (Nagada, Gurin)

14. Moments of Impact (Ertel & Solomon)

15. Narrative Mediation (Winslade & Monk)

16. Open Space Technology (Owen)

17. Organizational Learning Conversations (Bushe)

18. Participative Design (M. Emery)

19. PeerSpirit Circles (Baldwin)

20. Polarity Management (Johnson)

21. Preferred Futuring (Lippitt)

22. Reflexive Inquiry (Oliver)

23. REAL model (Wasserman & Gallegos)

24. Real Time Strategic Change (Jacobs)

25. Re-Description (Storch)

26. Search Conference (Emery & Emery)

27. Six Conversations (Block)

28. SOAR (Stavros)

29. Social Labs (Hassan)

30. Solution Focused Dialogue (Jackson & McKergow)

31. Sustained Dialogue (Saunders)

32. Syntegration (Beer)

33. Systemic Sustainability (Amadeo & Cox)

34. Talking stick (preindustrial)

35. Technology of Participation (Spencer)

36. Theory U (Scharmer)

37. Visual Explorer (Palus & Horth)

38. Whole Scale Change (Dannemiller)

39. Work Out (Ashkenas)

40. World Café (Brown & Issacs)


See the resources page at www.dialogicod.net for a bibliography of these approaches.

In this book we will not be describing or explaining how to use any specific Dialogic OD method. There are other books, articles, and websites describing each of the approaches listed in Table 1.2, and The Change Handbook (Holman, Devane, and Cady, 2007) briefly describes most of them. Rather, we will be explaining the underlying theories and approaches that are required to use any Dialogic OD approach or method more effectively. Our contention is that consistently successful OD practitioners have an underlying base of theory that allows them to mix and match different approaches and innovate in their approach to specific situations. That theory base is what we hope this book provides—a way of looking at organizations and change that will allow OD practitioners to understand and utilize dialogic change premises and processes more thoughtfully, carefully, and successfully.

Our last observation, based on working with the contributors to this book and on interactions with other scholars and practitioners, is that Dialogic OD practitioners may not subscribe to all of the premises and principles we describe here. Individual practitioners each have their unique mixture of premises and principles, incorporating some dialogic ones as well as framings that may be more diagnostic in origin, in various degrees and emphases. What we propose in this chapter is an “ideal type” we call the Dialogic OD Mindset to distinguish it from another ideal type, the Diagnostic OD Mindset. The concept of ideal type was developed by the sociologist Max Weber at the turn of the last century as a method to study social and organizational phenomena by formulating and contrasting an idealized set of ideas, attitudes, and behaviors with real-world observations. His famous description of “bureaucracy” as the most rational form of social organization is an example of an ideal type (Weber, 1947). While no two bureaucracies are identical, the idea of bureaucracy, like all ideal types, is a construct whose purpose is to provide us with a template that allows us to study real-world organizations, discern similarities and differences among and between them and the ideal type, and talk about them using the same or similar concepts and vocabulary.

Our analysis of a range of theories and practices that have influenced the OD practices listed in Table 1.2 suggests eight key premises that we think form the basis of the Dialogic OD Mindset as it exists today (Bushe and Marshak, 2014). These premises rest on two important intellectual movements that have reshaped how scholars and many practitioners think about organizations and change and that have come into prominence in OD starting in the 1980s and 1990s: the science of complexity and interpretivist social science. The scientific discoveries that what appeared to be chaotic systems actually produce order and that order continuously emerges in nature without planning or control have catalyzed a revolution in thinking about all human processes, from individual cognition to economic development. The evolution of complex adaptive systems theory (Kauffman, 1995), which has had a large effect on the Dialogic Mindset, is discussed in more detail in Chapters 6 and 7 and will be explored throughout this book.

Philosophical movements (often grouped under the label postmodernism) that challenge the key tenets of the modern scientific worldview have slowly gathered influence in the social sciences, to the point where they now verge on being dominant. We have grouped many of these under the label “interpretivist,” inasmuch as they all agree that the world is not something objectively independent of us but rather is a product of how we interpret it. Social construction (Berger and Luckmann, 1966; Gergen, 2009; Searle, 1995), the idea that social reality is something created through human interaction, has been a major influence in creating the Dialogic Mindset (Coghlan, 2011), as has the belief that language does not just convey information but actively shapes how we think and therefore the world we live in (Heidegger, 1971; Rorty, 1979; Wittgenstein, 1967). These theories are explored in Chapters 3 and 4, and throughout the book the impact of interpretivism on Dialogic OD will be fully evident. Finally, as will become clearer in the chapters in the Theory and Practice sections, the eight premises and three change processes of the Dialogic Mindset are a melding of these two intellectual movements.

Key Premises of the Dialogic OD Mindset

The theories and ideas informing the Dialogic OD Mindset are briefly introduced here in the form of eight key premises and discussed in greater depth throughout the Theory and Practice sections of the book.

1. Reality and relationships are socially constructed. Many more dialogic forms of OD are now explicitly based in theories of social construction and notions of multiple “truths.” Whether or not there are objective facts in the world, it is how people socially define and describe those facts that creates meaning in social systems. Furthermore, there is no single objective reality or a single authoritative voice or version of reality. Instead, a multiplicity of diverse voices and actors need to be recognized and engaged.

2. Organizations are meaning-making systems. Consistent with constructionist thinking, people and organizations are considered to be meaning-making systems in which reality/truth is continuously created and re-created through social interactions and agreements, open to many possible interpretations. What happens in organizations is influenced as much or more by how people interact and make meaning—and which people do this—than by how presumably objective external factors and forces impact the system.

3. Language, broadly defined, matters. Words, writings, and symbolic forms of expression do more than report or convey meaning; they create meaning. Thinking is powerfully influenced by words and the underlying storylines and metaphors people use when communicating with each other. Change is created and sustained by changes both in what words and symbols mean in the groups in which they are used and in the words and narratives that are used by those groups.

4. Creating change requires changing conversations. The social construction of reality occurs in the conversations and communications people have with each other every day. Change is promoted to the extent that everyday conversations are altered. This can occur by changing who is in conversation with whom, how those conversations take place, increasing conversational skills, what is being talked about, and by asking what is being created from the content and process of current conversations. Talk is action.

5. Structure participative inquiry and engagement to increase differentiation before seeking coherence. Ideas of participatory action inquiry have expanded the original ideas about action research. In Diagnostic OD, behavioral scientists involve client system members at various times in diagnosing themselves and making action choices. In Dialogic OD, the methods and degrees of involvement reflect a much broader conception of participation. Inquiry and learning have been advocated by many as an alternative to diagnosis for engaging and changing a system. The resulting processes of participative inquiry, engagement, and reflection are designed to maximize diversity, surface the variety of perspectives and motivations without privileging any one, and allow convergences and coherence to emerge.

6. Groups and organizations are continuously self-organizing. Following ideas from complexity science, conceiving organizations as self-organizing, emergent systems are emphasized over thinking of organizations as organic, open systems. Rather than considering organizations to be stable entities that occasionally change, they are seen as continuously in flux, always undergoing change, though the rate of change may vary widely. OD consultants may accelerate, deflect, punctuate, or disrupt these normal processes, but they do not unfreeze and refreeze them.

7. Transformational change is more emergent than planned. Transformational change cannot be planned in the way change management attempts to implement changes toward some rationally predetermined outcome. Rather, transformation requires holding an intention while moving into the unknown. Attempts to plan and control are more obstacles to transformational change than resources. Instead, disrupting current patterns in a way that engages people in uncovering collective intentions and shared motivations is required. As a result, change processes are more heterarchical than hierarchical and top-down; change can and does come from anywhere in the organization.

8. Consultants are a part of the process, not apart from the process. OD consultants cannot stand outside the social construction of reality, acting as objective observers or independent facilitators of social interaction. Their mere presence is part of the discursive narrative that influences the meaning making taking place. Consultants need to be aware of their own immersion in the organization and to reflexively consider what meanings they are creating, as well as what narratives their actions privilege and marginalize.

Table 1.3 Diagnostic and Dialogic Mindsets (Ideal Types)

Image

From Bushe & Marshak, 2014.

As shown in Table 1.3, these premises lead to a different way of thinking about the basic building blocks of organization development, even as practitioners may engage in consulting steps similar to Diagnostic OD. We see them enter and engage with people in an organization or community. They involve people in working on issues they are concerned about. They create processes for people to communicate ideas and information. They avoid becoming prescriptive experts. These and other actions can look just like textbook descriptions of Diagnostic OD. Yet when all these actions and the attendant processes, tools, and techniques follow from a Dialogic OD Mindset, the choices made and actions taken by the consultant will be very different. As Shaw notes: “… if organizing is understood essentially as a conversational process, an inescapably self-organizing process of participating in the spontaneous emergence of continuity and change, then we need a rather different way of thinking about any kind of organizational practice that focuses on change” (2002, p. 11).

The Three Core Processes of Organizational Change in Dialogic OD

A quick glance at the variety of Dialogic OD methods (which is continually expanding) in Table 1.2 suggests that many different change approaches are available to the Dialogic OD practitioner. We do not believe, however, that the actual change processes underlying successful Dialogic OD are that many or that different. At gatherings of practitioners, stories of failure in the use of any of the methods outlined in Table 1.2 are generally more prevalent than stories of success. While case studies that get published in books and journals are almost always couched as successes, studies show that actual success rates are generally well below 50 percent (Beer, Eisenstat, and Spector, 1990; Zackrison and Freedman, 2003). Anecdotally, it appears that some people are more consistently successful using Dialogic OD methods than others, and that simply following the formulas for running an Open Space, an Appreciative Inquiry, or any dialogic process is no guarantee that successful organization development will occur. One of the reasons for our efforts to outline the Dialogic Mindset is that we suspect some of the success/failure rate is associated with one’s mindset, as much as with tools and techniques.

We propose that there are three core underlying change processes that, singly or in combination, are essential to the successful use of any Dialogic OD method. We emphasize that simply engaging in good dialogues, in creating spaces where people are willing and able to speak their minds, and where people are willing and able to listen carefully to one another, is not sufficient for transformational change to occur. What we do believe is required is that one or more of the following occur during the OD practitioner’s work—whether that work is orchestrating large group events, working with small groups or teams in dialogic forms of process consultation, or one-on-one coaching.

Change Process 1: A Disruption in the Ongoing Social Construction of Reality Is Stimulated or Engaged in a Way That Leads to a More Complex Reorganization

Dialogic OD assumes that social systems, like complex natural systems, are self-organizing. In the natural world, without leaders or plans, what appears random resolves into pattern. Even strings of numbers produced from nonlinear equations resolve into patterns. Organization emerges. Thousands of people typically self-organize within a few hours during natural disasters. Working with notions of complexity and emergence allows Dialogic OD to offer a viable alternative to the “analyze the current state, articulate a vision, plan for how to achieve that vision, and execute” model of change leadership.

When the social order (the pattern of social relations revealed in how people communicate, how people are included or excluded, how decisions are made, how conflict is resolved, etc.) is no longer adequate to the situation, or coherent to its members, and there is little chance of going back to the way things were, a disruption has occurred. Disruptions can be planned or unplanned. Disruptions are always nonlinear, and when planned typically produce unintended consequences, some of which can be happy ones. Those affected may be able to self-organize and transform without a leader or a plan. Something will emerge, though it may be unpleasant and unwanted. Planned or unplanned, transformation is unlikely to take place without disruption in the current meaning-making processes (Holman, 2010; Stacey, 2005). With the help of OD practitioners, leaders may attempt to disrupt meaning-making processes in groups, organizations, or networks of stakeholders as part of the OD process. In other cases, they may ask an OD consultant to help them deal with an unplanned disruption. A variety of Dialogic OD approaches are designed to create containers within which disruptions can be both the cause and the result of engaged and concerned people talking earnestly with each other (see Chapter 13 for general considerations for hosting containers regardless of approach). Transformational change always involves disruption to the ongoing patterns of self-organizing.

Because a disruption is not a benign event, OD practitioners of all mindsets look for ways to manage and lessen the anxiety that disruptive change can create. Because it is impossible to plan or fully control self-organizing processes, dialogic practitioners seek to influence what happens before, during, and after a disruption to help promote the emergence of new and more effective patterns of organizing. Organizations close to chaos will retain their structures until some variable is pushed over an unpredictable limit. This is the bifurcation point, at which the previous organization dissolves and the system takes a leap. At that point the range of possibilities may be known, but where any one particular system will leap remains unknown and situationally emergent. Options range from complete dissolution to reorganization at a higher level of complexity (Prigogine and Stengers, 1984). The Dialogic OD Mindset works with this natural process of disruption and emergence. For example, practitioners operating from a Dialogic OD Mindset may encourage greater confrontation of established and perhaps comfortable patterns when organizations face significant risks. Confrontations that get people to face the complexity and the urgency of the situation, if successful, will induce a greater sense of chaos—required for self-organizing (Pascale, Milleman, and Gioja, 2001). It is at the close-to-chaos boundary that self-organizing change erupts and emerges (Kauffman, 1995), and also where anxiety may be at its greatest (Stacey, 2005). Expanding and enriching networks makes it easier to cope with anxiety and to self-organize. Dialogic OD practitioners therefore attend to building relationships and trust while helping people find their common and complementary interests and make newly informed meaning of the complex situation they collectively face. Dialogic OD practitioners assume that the richer the communications and relationships in a network, the more likely the leap after bifurcation will land in a “better” place. Chapters 6 and 7 in the Theory section discuss the ideas of complexity and emergence in detail, and consider their implications for Dialogic OD practice.

Change Process 2: A Change to One or More Core Narratives Takes Place

The Dialogic Mindset believes that words do much more than just convey information; they shape how we think, what we perceive, and what makes sense to us and others. “It is in words and language that things first come into being” (Heidegger, 1959, p. 13). Dialogic OD assumes that most of what is “real” or “true” in organizations (e.g., what our purpose is, how best to achieve it, who is and is not influential, who our stakeholders are, what our most important challenges and opportunities are) are socially constructed realities. That is, regardless of what might or might not be “objectively true,” what people believe to be true (and what therefore influences their thoughts and actions) arises out of social interactions embedded in socially constructed realities that arose from previous interactions. Every day, in every conversation, the social construction of reality is being created, maintained, and changed. Organizations change when new words enter their vocabularies, and when the meanings people attach to words and other “discursive phenomena” change (Barrett, Thomas, and Hocevar, 1995; Marshak, 1998). Narratives are one of the most important discursive phenomena for understanding stability and change in how people in organizations make meaning.

Core narratives are the thematic stories embodied in everyday conversations, documents, metaphors, symbolic representations, and so forth that explain and bring coherence to our organizational lives. They create and convey the socially constructed versions of reality that delimit what is important, how things are related, what is possible, and how one should behave organizationally (Grant et al., 2004; Marshak, 1998). They are more than tales told at meetings or around the water cooler. A core narrative is not so much one story as a storyline that can encompass a variety of specific interactions and events (Boje, 1991). For example, the “organizational health narrative” has informed and shaped the thinking of OD practitioners and has been used to confront managers who might be influenced by efficiency and productivity narratives associated with machinelike images of an organization.

Individual behavior is also influenced by personal narratives that “tell” a person who he or she is, what that person can and should do, and what is possible in all situations. For example, leaders informed by life experiences to believe that successful leaders must be “in charge,” decisive, and even feared (e.g., “The Man on a White Horse” or “The Captain on the Bridge” narrative) may tell themselves “servant leadership” skills are signs of weakness, and avoid performing those behaviors even when needed. Narratives, whether about leaders on white horses, the need for machinelike efficiency and productivity, or remedies to insure the growth and good health of an organization, create the context for how things are considered and thereby both enable and restrict thinking and action.

Narratives shape the prevailing or intended rationales supporting the status quo and point the way to new potentialities. The Dialogic Mindset assumes that transformational change is not possible without the emergence of new, socially-agreed-upon narratives that explain and support the new reality and possibilities, endorsed by those presently or historically in power and authority (Marshak and Grant, 2008). New stories are a way of managing change, particularly culture change, and change is often the result of new stories that participants author and that become widely shared (Brown and Humphreys, 2003; Buchanan and Dawson, 2007). A variety of the methods listed in Table 1.2 can be used as a conscious intervention into the narrative and story-making processes of an organization. Chapter 3 provides an overview of the philosophical basis of social construction. Chapter 4 provides an overview of recent research in the new field of organizational discourse studies. Both include implications for Dialogic OD practice. Additional ideas and information about changing conversations and narratives are provided in the Practice section, especially Chapter 16 on Dialogic OD Coaching, Chapter 17 on Dialogic Processes Consulting, and Chapter 9 on Enabling Change.

Change Process 3: A Generative Image Is Introduced or Surfaces That Provides New and Compelling Alternatives for Thinking and Acting

Generative is an adjective meaning the power to generate, produce, originate. Dialogic OD believes that transformational change requires new ideas, new conversations, and new ways of looking at things, and is interested in capabilities and processes that can generate those. Bushe’s research has found that generative images are central to successful Appreciative Inquiry efforts (Bushe, 1998, 2010, 2013a; Bushe and Kassam, 2005), and he has proposed that they are central to Dialogic OD success (Bushe, 2013b). A generative image is a combination of words, pictures, or other symbolic media that provide new ways of thinking about social and organizational reality. In effect, it allows people to imagine alternative decisions and actions that they could not imagine before it surfaced. A second property of highly generative images is that they are compelling; people want to act on the new opportunities the generative image evokes.

For example, in a study on using dialogic change processes in teams, Bushe (1998) found that teams that were stuck would, when given the opportunity to discuss stories of peak team experiences, often produce a generative image that provided a path out of the dilemma they were stuck in. Included in his examples is one team that was stuck between the competitive feelings that members felt toward each other and the need for cooperative action to succeed at their task. They resolved the tension through a story about a pickup basketball game one member participated in: everyone competed to create new, innovative moves and plays, but then, after being acknowledged, taught everyone else the new moves. “Back alley ball” became a generative image for this group, offering new approaches for building a high-performing team that combined the best of competitive and cooperative behaviors.

The generativity of an image depends on the context in which it is used. It has to be new to this group of people, and it has to point to something that is attractive to them. A compelling generative image invites people to imagine new possibilities beyond the prevailing narratives and social agreements that define what is currently possible in a particular situation. Exploring the ideas and insights stimulated by the generative image has the effect of freeing people from their previously confined thinking and opens pathways for realistically considering what may have been thought impossible or unimaginable (Marshak, 2006). Sometimes such images allow people to transcend polarized thinking, producing a both/and possibility when people previously thought they could only have either/or. For example, the image of sustainable development transcended thinking in terms of environmental preservation versus economic development and transformed the ecological narrative across the world.

A variety of the methods listed in Table 1.2 could be supported by using generative images as the initiating themes or questions for inquiry (Bushe, 2013a; Storch and Ziethen, 2013) or by encouraging new generative images to emerge in the process of dialogue and inquiry (Bushe, 1998; Marshak, 2004). The nature of generative images and how to use them is discussed in depth in Chapter 5 and some of the Practice chapters. In particular, Chapter 9, on enabling change, Chapter 12, on reframing inquiry, and Chapter 15, on amplifying change discuss the process of generative conversations, generative inquiry, and working with generative images.

Summing Up the Change Processes

It is unclear to us, at this time, whether transformational change requires more than one of these underlying processes to be successful. They do seem related. For example, it is difficult to imagine a change in a core narrative that did not involve a disruption to the current self-organizing processes. On the other hand, changes in core narratives do occur over time that do not necessarily involve disruption (Barrett, Thomas, and Hocevar, 1995), although in a world of constant change “disruption” is mainly a matter of temporal perspective. Similarly, it is unclear if generative images require either disruption or a change in core narratives to be successful, but it is clear that they all can go together. What we are proposing is that the Dialogic OD Mindset is particularly attuned to these three change processes, and that the successful Dialogic OD consultant will knowingly or intuitively mix and match a variety of methods in order to maximize the likelihood that one or all will be present.

In sum, then, a Dialogic OD Mindset assumes that groups and organizations are self-organizing, socially constructed realities that are continuously created, sustained, and changed through narratives, stories, images, symbols, and conversations. The role of the practitioner or consultant is to help foster, support, and/or accelerate new ways of talking and thinking that lead to the emergence of transformational possibilities. This is usually done by introducing greater diversity into ongoing interactions, asking generative questions that shift the focus from problems to possibilities, fostering a container or space for different conversations to take place, and hosting interactions intended to lead to useful outcomes.

Dialogic OD practitioners think in terms of interpretive meaning-making processes, fostering inquiry, addressing how conversations create social reality, and organizational change as a process of continuous emergence. This contrasts with the tendency in the Diagnostic OD Mindset to think about organizations as objects to be scientifically investigated by conducting an accurate diagnosis, ensuring that conversations convey objective reality (the facts), and regarding change as something that is episodic and that can be planned and managed.

What’s Similar in Diagnostic and Dialogic OD?

Given the differences in mindsets, why are we labeling both Diagnostic and Dialogic OD as forms of organization development? There are two main reasons: their many common values and their similar concerns about improving organizations, communities, and the lives of people through facilitative and nondirective means. Although the Dialogic OD Mindset may not embrace the full range of premises of many of the founders, it does embrace their collaborative, humanistic, and democratic values, along with their concerns about staying client centered and process oriented.

Common Values and Concerns

We believe there is a bedrock set of values that holds all forms of OD together. In both of what we are calling Diagnostic and Dialogic forms of OD, these values and ideals reflect humanistic and democratic assumptions: the empowering and collaborative nature of OD practices, interest in increasing awareness about and in a system in order to change it, the facilitative and enabling (as opposed to expert) role of the consultant, and the underlying goal of developing and enhancing organizations and broader social systems. Like classical diagnostic practices, Dialogic OD practices are highly participative and attempt to circumvent the power of entrenched interests to allow the variety of interests represented in the system as equal a footing as possible in the coconstruction of new relational and organizational realities. The differences between Dialogic and Diagnostic OD have historically been obscured by their common interest in fostering greater system awareness. In Dialogic OD this awareness occurs through conversational and relational processes of inquiry that in themselves create change, as opposed to using diagnostic processes of inquiry to uncover what needs to be changed before planning how to achieve a stated end state. Nonetheless, because information and ideas are shared and discussed, Dialogic OD processes are often equated with “data collection” and classical diagnosis. While inquiry and data collection can be synonymous, the image of inquiry in Dialogic OD is sufficiently different from the vision of data collection in, say, Nadler’s (1977) classic OD text on the subject that equating them obscures more than it reveals. Borrowing from an early distinction made by Gergen (1978), we think “to understand” has very different connotations in the Diagnostic and Dialogic Mindsets. In the scientific orientation of Diagnostic OD, “to understand” means to see beneath the surface, to uncover and expose the universal truths that exist independently of any human observer. To the Dialogic Mindset, “to understand” means to assign meaning, to offer a way of cataloging or expressing human experience that brings coherence or integration with other experiences. In the “understanding” of Diagnostic OD the truth is there to be found. In the “understanding” of Dialogic OD the truth is something we create, together. Thus, in the Diagnostic Mindset diagnostic inquiry happens before change and informs the choices made about how to change. In the Dialogic Mindset inquiry and change occur simultaneously and continuously.

The role of the consultant in Dialogic OD is also consistent with the emphasis in Diagnostic OD on facilitating and enabling others as opposed to providing expert advice (Schein, 1969, 1988). Like the Diagnostic OD consultant, the Dialogic OD consultant has expertise in understanding human social dynamics and in offering processes and enabling conditions that support organizational goals and OD values. However, the underlying mindset guiding the processes used by the Dialogic OD consultant in carrying out this role is different, as will be evident from reading any of the Practice chapters. This leads to a number of differences in how practitioners interpret and think about what they do. For example, in Dialogic OD the consultant acts more like a convener and constructor of a “container” within which individuals or client systems engage themselves, rather than being a central actor in diagnosis, intervention, or facilitation of interpersonal and group interactions toward a stated desired outcome (all hallmarks of Diagnostic OD). The consultant’s relationship to the client system, however, is similar in both versions of OD, providing expertise in enabling social processes, not specific solutions to client concerns. For example, when consultants help a group address its strategic future, they do not offer advice on what strategies to adopt. Finally, the OD consultant in both forms is concerned with developing the capacity of the client system and avoiding client dependence on the consultant (Cummings and Worley, 2009).

This emphasis on the consultant’s role in capacity building links to the final characteristic both forms of OD share, an interest in “development”—though what it means to develop an organization is perhaps the least developed aspect of OD theory. Developmental models at the individual, group, organizational, and interorganizational levels tend to share similar conceptions of what constitutes a more developed state (Bushe and Coetzer, 2007). There are, at a minimum, three common interrelated themes. First, a person, group, organization, or network (“the system”) is more developed, the greater the awareness it has of itself—it can talk to itself about itself. In an organization, this means that members can talk freely to each other about their perceptions of the organization. Second, in a more developed system, emotional, reactive behavior decreases and rational, goal-directed behavior increases. Such a developed state comes not from repressing or denying emotions, making them undiscussable, but exactly the opposite. Naming the emotions at play curtails their power to compel irrational action and makes it easier to make choices based on practical judgment. Third, the more developed the system, the better able it is to actualize its potential. It is more aware of its strengths and weaknesses, and more aware of its dormant potentials. It is less likely to shy away from the risks that actualizing potential always entails simply to avoid feeling anxious. Table 1.4 summarizes some of the similarities between Diagnostic and Dialogic OD.

Table 1.4 Similarities between Diagnostic and Dialogic Forms of OD


Image Both have strong humanistic and democratic values

Image Greater system awareness is encouraged and facilitated

Image Consultants focus on process not content

Image Capacity building and development of the system is encouraged


From Bushe and Marshak, 2009.

Different Times, But Similar Intents

It is important to note that the Dialogic OD Mindset has been greatly influenced by ideas and theories of more recent origin, not readily available to the founders. Innovators in any era work with the prevailing generative images and metaphors of their time. Today, Kurt Lewin’s models may seem quaintly mechanistic to some (Boje, Burnes, and Hassard, 2012), but he was developing them at a time when his notions of dynamic fields were far more organic and systemic than those of his peers. There is evidence that Ron Lippitt (1980) and Lewin (Joseph and Neumann, 2014) espoused some of the premises we have described as belonging to the Dialogic Mindset, but in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s postmodernism was not well known or accepted in American social science and complexity theory did not exist. We think many of the founders would have recognized the Dialogic Mindset as a legitimate way to think about organizations and change and considered it as belonging to the field of practice we call organization development, which seems to attract mavericks and change agents who are passionate about creating a better world and who enjoy living on the margins, somewhere between in and out.

We also believe that the maverick tendencies of OD academics and practitioners have helped enable the Dialogic OD Mindset to emerge from within and alongside OD as originally conceived. For example, since its earliest days there have been continuing attempts to codify OD and create certifying bodies. Certainly that has been a powerful way of creating forms of legitimacy for fields of professional service as distinct as accountancy, financial planning, law, management coaching, and so on. Over the years, however, OD academics and practitioners have worried that credentialing bodies may start out with the noble purpose of increasing the professionalism of members and protecting consumers and clients, but over time would inevitably become barriers to innovation. So OD professional bodies have provided loose guidelines such as those set by the Organization Development and Change Division of the Academy of Management and the OD Network, but never professionalized in a way that would tightly monitor or restrict what was considered OD and exactly how it should be practiced or taught. Some would argue that this has contributed to ambiguity about what OD is and has helped to keep it marginalized. As two members of the OD community who live at the margin, we would instead argue that the absence of formal boundaries has kept OD ideas and practices vibrant and has allowed Dialogic OD to emerge as a new and different body of OD practice. Perhaps if the formal boundaries and enforcement mechanisms had been more tightly restrictive, we would not be able to embrace the similarities of Diagnostic and Dialogic OD, and instead accentuate only the differences, asserting that “Dialogic Consulting” was a completely new and different field of practice. Instead, OD has remained open to innovation over the years, and we believe the important commonalities and shared heritage between Diagnostic and Dialogic Mindsets suggest we are dealing with different forms of OD rather than different types of consulting and change altogether.

Closing Comment

Interestingly, while working on this book it has been pointed out to us that the term Dialogic OD illustrates the three core change processes we write about. It is a generative image that is opening up new ways of thinking and talking about Organization Development. It is offering a new and different narrative of OD influencing how people teach, talk, and think about OD consulting and change. It is creating a disruption in the status quo, attracting criticism as well as praise, and may well have the potential to push the field of OD, particularly the education of OD practitioners, to a bifurcation point requiring reorganizing what OD means at a higher level of complexity. Time will tell. In the meantime we turn in the next chapter to what we know about the current practice of Dialogic OD.

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Endorsements

“This timely new book promises to further energize and advance the field of OD during a time when we need all the help we can get in terms of designing and effectively managing complex organizations. This volume represents a significant contribution to the literature of the field.”  Richard W. Woodman, Texas A & M University and former editor of the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science

“In this outstanding collection, one gets a clear sense that ‘dialogic’ is bringing OD into the new, contemporary contexts, so real today, and so different from the contexts in which foundational OD was developed.” David W. Jamieson, University of St Thomas and author of Consultation for Organizational Change

“Dialogic Organizational Development moves beyond the stability biased assumptions of social science and allows us to feel, see, think and act in new ways. It is a key contribution.”  —Robert E. Quinn, University of Michigan and author of Deep Change and Change the World

“This is an exciting and much needed book! Bushe and Marshak with the help of a global team of scholar-practitioners have brought us a comprehensive discussion that pulls together the latest thinking and practices shaping the field of Organization Development. This is a book you will return to many times!”  —Mee-Yan Cheung-Judge, Director of Quality & Equality Ltd., UK, and co-author of Organisation Development: A Practitioner’s Guide for OD and HR

“Dialogic Organization Development will prove to be a milestone in the evolution of organization development. This volume provides both an essential orientation as well as pragmatic advice for employing an arsenal of impactful techniques.”  —Loizos Heracleous, Warwick Business School and associate fellow, Oxford University

“Dialogic Organization Development, provides a ‘must have’ guide book for organizations wishing to constructively and sustainably embed themselves in emerging economies that are in the throes of radical transformation.”  —Theo H. Veldsman, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

“Dialogic Organization Development is a truly pioneering work that puts the focus back on the heart of OD – the spirit of inquiry. Instead of change driven by
diagnosing how to align organizational elements with the demands of the broader environment, Dialogic OD concerns itself with how to induce new ways of thinking by engaging with the organizational conversations that create and frame understanding and action."  —S. Ramnarayan, Indian School of Business and co-author of Change Management: Altering Mindsets in A Global Context

“This is a perfect book for consultants or corporate executives who not only want to innovate and be more effective in Organization Development but want to know and better understand why and how human dynamics are so relevant.”  —Anna Simioni, Leadership and Change Practice Lead, Boston Consulting Group, Italy, Greece and Turkey

“This exciting and comprehensive book is the fi rst and only book to deeply and fully describe the origins, root assumptions, and key practices of Dialogic OD and is a source of many new ideas and insights about organizational consulting and change."  —Kazuhiko Nakamura, Nanzan University, Japan

“OD is in the midst of its own transformation. Dialogic Organization Development, with its A-list of authors and contributors, is the much needed book that puts the stake in the ground upon which that transformed future will be built.”  —Ian Palmer, RMIT University, Australia

“Gervase Bushe and Bob Marshak offer a comprehensive approach to organizational change that reinvigorates our conversation about OD and helps us re-imagine the theories and approaches that inform our consulting practices. This is a valuable resource for both graduate OD courses and OD practitioners.”  —John Vogelsang, Editor-in-Chief, OD Practitioner

“Dialogic Organization Development brings a much-needed focus on the less rational and mechanistic processes that honor the emergence of new meaning, new thinking, and new understanding of the systems we work and live in. This unusually well integrated anthology will certainly disrupt the status quo of prevailing contemporary OD practices.”  —John D. Adams, Emeritus Professor, Saybrook University and author of Transforming Work

“Dialogic Organization Development closes a painful gap in the scientific community and among practitioners. It will certainly be a valuable contribution to
important research in the field of applied sciences. I hope this new volume, with its rich variety of contributions will fi nd a broad reception, especially in Europe.”  —Rudolf Wimmer, Universität Witten/Herdecke, Germany

“Dialogic Organization Development brings together an impressive international group of scholars and practitioners to clarify the conceptual foundations and provide practical illustrations of what OD may be in a contemporary context. In a Scandinavian context, Dialogic OD resonates with a long, social-constructionist and interpretive tradition in organization theory.”  —Andreas Werr, Stockholm School of Economics

“This timely new book promises to further energize and advance the field of OD during a time when we need all the help we can get in terms of designing and effectively managing complex organizations. This volume represents a signifi cant contribution to the literature of the field.” —Richard W. Woodman, Texas A & M University and former editor of the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 

“In this outstanding collection, one gets a clear sense that ‘dialogic’ is bringing OD into the new, contemporary contexts, so real today, and so different from the contexts in which foundational OD was developed.” —David W. Jamieson, University of St Thomas and author of Consultation for Organizational Change 

“Dialogic Organizational Development moves beyond the stability biased assumptions of social science and allows us to feel, see, think and act in new ways. It is a key contribution.” —Robert E. Quinn, University of Michigan and author of Deep Change and Change the World 

“This is an exciting and much needed book! Bushe and Marshak with the help of a global team of scholar-practitioners have brought us a comprehensive discussion that pulls together the latest thinking and practices shaping the field of Organization Development. This is a book you will return to many times!” Mee-Yan Cheung-Judge, Director of Quality & Equality Ltd., UK, and co-author of Organisation Development: A Practitioner’s Guide for OD and HR 

“Dialogic Organization Development will prove to be a milestone in the evolution of organization development. This volume provides both an essential orientation as well as pragmatic advice for employing an arsenal of impactful techniques.” —Loizos Heracleous, Warwick Business School and associate fellow, Oxford University 

“Dialogic Organization Development, provides a ‘must have’ guide book for organizations wishing to constructively and sustainably embed themselves in emerging economies that are in the throes of radical transformation.” —Theo H. Veldsman, University of Johannesburg, South Africa 

“Dialogic Organization Development is a truly pioneering work that puts the focus back on the heart of OD – the spirit of inquiry. Instead of change driven by diagnosing how to align organizational elements with the demands of the broader environment, Dialogic OD concerns itself with how to induce new ways of thinking by engaging with the organizational conversations that create and frame understanding and action.” —S. Ramnarayan, Indian School of Business and co-author of Change Management: Altering Mindsets in A Global Context 

“This is a perfect book for consultants or corporate executives who not only want to innovate and be more effective in Organization Development but want to know and better understand why and how human dynamics are so relevant.” —Anna Simioni, Leadership and Change Practice Lead, Boston Consulting Group, Italy, Greece and Turkey 

“This exciting and comprehensive book is the first and only book to deeply and fully describe the origins, root assumptions, and key practices of Dialogic OD and is a source of many new ideas and insights about organizational consulting and change.” —Kazuhiko Nakamura, Nanzan University, Japan “OD is in the midst of its own transformation. Dialogic Organization Development, with its A-list of authors and contributors, is the much needed book that puts the stake in the ground upon which that transformed future will be built.” —Ian Palmer, RMIT University, Australia 

“Gervase Bushe and Bob Marshak offer a comprehensive approach to organizational change that reinvigorates our conversation about OD and helps us re-imagine the theories and approaches that inform our consulting practices. This is a valuable resource for both graduate OD courses and OD practitioners.” —John Vogelsang, Editor-in-Chief, OD Practitioner 

“Dialogic Organization Development brings a much-needed focus on the less rational and mechanistic processes that honor the emergence of new meaning, new thinking, and new understanding of the systems we work and live in. This unusually well integrated anthology will certainly disrupt the status quo of prevailing contemporary OD practices.” —John D. Adams, Emeritus Professor, Saybrook University and author of Transforming Work 

“Dialogic Organization Development closes a painful gap in the scientific community and among practitioners. It will certainly be a valuable contribution to important research in the fi eld of applied sciences. I hope this new volume, with its rich variety of contributions will find a broad reception, especially in Europe.” —Rudolf Wimmer, Universität Witten/Herdecke, Germany 

“Dialogic Organization Development brings together an impressive international group of scholars and practitioners to clarify the conceptual foundations and provide practical illustrations of what OD may be in a contemporary context. In a Scandinavian context, Dialogic OD resonates with a long, social-constructionist and interpretive tradition in organization theory.” —Andreas Werr, Stockholm School of Economics“This timely new book promises to further energize and advance the field of OD during a time when we need all the help we can get in terms of designing and effectively managing complex organizations. This volume represents a significant contribution to the literature of the field.” —Richard W. Woodman, Texas A & M University and former editor of the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science

"Superbly edited by Gervase Bushe and Robert Marshak, the chapters in this book, which introduce Dialogic OD into the language of management, are so brilliantly crafted they could have been written by Kurt Lewin himself.”— Academy of Management Learning and Education Journal

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