Carman, Sorry for the long delay! My executive and career coaching practice includes working with people in career transition, and, unfortunately, many people are needing this kind of support right now.
Regarding transformation, you wrote: “It changes ‘how’ we know. Change thus appears to involve the re-perception of reality. [It…] involves the ‘deconstruction of a given world-view and its replacement by a new world view.’ […] I believe it is superfluous to talk about collective (organizational) transformation without first clarifying individual transformation.”
Yes, I agree whole-heartedly. I suspect the reason many change efforts fail is that real transformation hasn’t taken at the individual level, and for change to hold, leadership must be transformed as well (hence, of course, the term “tranformative leadership”).
And, yes, I would also agree that personal transformation involves a re-perception of reality, such that the desired changes can be seen as a natural and normal part of being in the world (or organizations).
For example, most people would agree that the value of charity — lending a hand to those who need it — is a good one. However, behaving charitably does not come naturally to everyone — otherwise, there would be less want in the world. If our perspective is that the world is a collection of separate beings in competition for scarce resources, and we feel fearful, we might publically endorse the concept of charity, but not live by it. Rather, this world view leads to a different value, which contradicts the espoused value. This creates a culture in which it is understood that we say one thing and do another.
Similarly, in organizations, it’s not uncommon for people to espouse one value and then act in a way that is contrary to the value.
So, it’s interesting to consider the dynamics of that transformation… how does it happen?
Another consideration is the system itself. In this blog, I’ve primarily emphasized change from the inside out. There is also change from the outside in. In a nutshell, every worldview generates values and a structure of living in accordance with that view. If we are able to create a change in the structure, we may find that experience, perspective and attitudes change as well.
For example, when I entered the field of software engineering years ago, women engineers were still a rarity, and I experienced some pretty blatant discrimination. In retrospect, I’m sure I was an affirmative action hire. Still, I did an exceptional job, and so did many other women. Over the years, affirmative action created a climate where the presence of women was considered more normal, and discrimination dwindled.
Another example is compensation or performance management systems. We may prefer to behave in one way, but the system may shape our behavior in another…
Usually, the problem with this outside-in approach is that the structure is not strong enough for the new behavior to hold long enough to cause a change in perception. It comes back to the perspective of human beings.
That said, ultimately, for change to be sustained, the entire system, inclusive of psychology, sociology, organizational structure, processes, performance management system, culture, etc. must shift to be in sync with that change. This is, of course, the broader topic of organizational learning. It’s the systemic nature of this transformative learning, which I attempt to capture in my transformational-holistic-learning model.
It’s another full week for me, but hope to connect again, soon.