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This relates to Systems Question #10: How can we go from complexity to simplicity, and from consistency to flexibility, in the solutions we devise?
For example: Simplicity and flexibility are two criteria for success. They must be explicit in the process on a regular basis or they will not occur (they go against natural system characteristics). Simplicity wins the game every time!
Principle #11: Change Is an Individual Act (Seven Levels of Living Systems)
Organizational change is a myth. Organizations and institutions change only when people change. Processes and procedures change when people change their behaviors. Accepting responsibility and accountability for your actions is key.
This interdependence is the highest order in terms of wisdom and maturity, coming after dependent and independent growth stages. Independence is really a myth! Focusing on assisting individual change within the family, team, or unit (as a system) is the best way to assist individual change.
This relates to Systems Question #11: What do I contribute to the problem and what can I change to be a positive and proactive leader on this?
For example: Each member of a Change Leadership Team should look at his or her own behavior first. They should do it as a group as well to promote openness and teamwork.
^ THINK DI FFERENTLY
While working in an executive role in a public-sector organization, a colleague was leading a major EWC process to develop and strengthen a corporate culture of employee empowerment. One staff member who had transferred from another department was having difficulty adjusting to the hectic pace of her new department.
Foundations of the Systems Thinking Approach
After many months of work trying to make the transition a good one, they were faced with the prospect of having to let this employee go because of her inability to adapt. A critical performance assessment meeting was held to clarify once again what was expected and why it was such an important part of the corporate change initiative.
With a clear understanding of the consequences that lay ahead if she was not able to handle the transition, the employee changed her attitude and she became motivated to succeed. Within months, her performance showed a dramatic improvement and she went on to become a key team leader within the organization.
Organizational change occurs one person at a time.
Principle #12: Problems Can’t Be Solved at the Level at Which They Were Created (Albert Einstein)
In many of your change projects, you will need to go to the next higher systems level and its desired outcome in order to succeed—the helicopter view of the world.
This relates to the Ultimate Systems Tool and System Question #12: What is our common superordinate goal here?
For example: If you are having differences and conflict as a group, can you get the team to agree on a higher-level goal—get them up in a helicopter for a higher-level, 5,000-foot view?
D THINK D I FFERENTLY
At what level does the set of problems below need to be solved?
A large middle school in the eastern United States hired a new principal because of the low-performing nature of the school's students. His predecessor had set in place a series of projects to improve the school and ensure “no child is left behind,” as President Bush's mandate goes. As a result the first principal had the following complex, fragmented structures in place:
D A senior cabinet of department chairs to run the school D Separate consultant teams in the school to improve
• Student math scores
• English-language speaking skills
• Reading and writing skills
• Teacher development for low-performing teachers
• Serious, disruptive attendance and discipline problems
D A school site council with 50 percent representation from parents and teachers which had been making strategic decisions about the school
D A Parent Teachers Association
D A school audit and intervention team due to the low-performing test scores
D Traditional categorical grant funding by the state for certain other learning program improvement projects
D A union flexing its muscles and causing more problems
D A Total Quality Education Baldrige Award criteria study
D A structure of three learning communities overlaid on the traditional grade-level structure
D Design teams to assist learning composed of teachers, parents, classified employees, and administrators
Question: What are the chances of real progress and improvement by the students with all these well-meaning, overlapping, silo approaches? The answer is obvious.
At what level of thinking is the solution even possible?
Principle #13: Paradigm Shift—The World Continually Evolves, Often in Discontinuous Ways, Leading to Breakthroughs Occurring on a Regular Basis
Just as the world has undergone a series of ages on Earth over thousands of years, so do the views we have about What Is the Truth? A key to change is letting go of the current "truth" for the new one replacing it.