Change is changing. What? Cultures and values naturally and often subtly shift. As we progress into this technical, information, millennium, change is actually approached differently. Here, we explore an evolution of change. How agents of change have influenced systems of their concentration during the past several decades is briefly reviewed.
Change agents helped the group overturn assumptions to gradually deconstruct the unconstructive. What was perceived as a solid boundary can be challenged, permeability of the system influenced innovation and new functioning.
In the past, change was sought to fill a gap or reduce a problem. Appreciative approaches begin with the strengths of any situation. Open approaches to decision making, refusal of the role of expert, change agents illuminated the intelligence in the room. They set the stage for greater participation with diverse perspectives. With these democratic, facilitative approaches uprooted the data gathering processed intended to find the problem. Leaders who understood this, redistributed the power by sharing their thoughts with their group, seeking their input. They stay connected, informed, rather than focusing authority on their role.
Change agents stay focus on process, rather than the content. They possess an ability to build capacity to development systems. Reflection is common place among well-functioning systems. They are focused on the goals and actualize their potential. A key skill of change agents today is plan, organize, facilitate, events for members to “increase their awareness of the system” to better understand how their perceptions and actions construct collective realities. In its essence, change agents create “new possibilities based on new meanings, new ideas and new energy to do something with them.” (Bushe, 2008)
More succinctly, today change is influenced by new sciences, postmodern thought and philosophy. Meaning making of social systems assists a collective truth to emerge regarding the situation. Power and influence are socially negotiated. There is an emphasis on what is between the ears. Raising collective awareness, open possibilities, new social agreements, all contribute to change. Change agents, of many stripes, continue to reveal changes that uphold humanistic and democratic values.
Bushe, G.R., & Marshak, R. J. (2008). The postmodern turn in OD. OD Practitioner, 40(4), 9-11
Bushe, G.R. (2005). Revisioning OD: A post-modern reconstruction. Conference on Social Construction: A Celebration of Collaborative Practices. Taos Institute, Taos, NM, Oct. 6–9, 2005.
Hatch, M. J. (1997). Organization theory: modern, symbolic, and postmodern perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press.