Organisational Change Management Volume 1

Framework 25 Visuals

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The core of many occupations and organisations' communication culture is visual rather than literary or auditory.

We live an environment dominated by visuals. On the other hand, visual techniques, such as mind maps, are generally not used enough in organisations to communicate messages and to facilitate discussions such as the nature and direction of organisational journeys and the requirement for conceptual shifts and continuous learning.

Visual techniques are important to highlight shifting structures, barriers, boundaries and blurring of boundaries, complexity, connections, discontinuities, linkages, dynamics, directions, gaps, integration, interdependencies, networks and spatial relations.

The following examples of visual techniques help people rethink and reframe their understanding and involvement in organisational dynamics

1 Transforming the nature of organisation life (see Diagram 1)


This illustrates the changing structures and relationships as organisations shift from traditional structures to relationships that are emerging in the knowledge-based, mobile economies.

It allows people to see connections and to relate their experiences to broader organisational transformation.

Sometimes changes to hierarchical and divisional structures just result in a flattened version of the original.

Real change comes when an organisation breaks out of its old structure to a more mobile framework.

Visuals can be used to illustrate diverse philosophies. For example, outsourcing in the traditional economy is driven predominantly by cost considerations, whereas in a knowledge economy, it is an important method of acquiring proprietary knowledge and skills. Furthermore, it usually leads onto discussions and dialogue about values and the need for trust and shared learning in a world of relational space, and about the nature and importance of conceptual changes in transforming organisations and a recognition that language may need to change to express new meanings.

It highlights the need for innovation in organisations and can facilitate the breakdown of the focus on technical innovations that dominates many organisations

2 Creating a learning enterprise and networks (see Diagram 2)


The traditions of training and development are deeply embedded in the restrictive and demarcated roles of people in industrial organisations.

The shift from restricting structures to more flexible relationships is central to the development of individual, team, organisational and networked learning. This involves a shift from individual training to shared learning. This and cross-cultural learning is the basis for new formal and informal relationships including both internal and external processes that involve many stakeholders. For example, the customers and suppliers are central to the learning process as the joint venturers and out-sourcers.

3 Mediating knowledge and know-how between cultures (see Diagram 3)


This illustrates how intellectual capital that is constructed conceptually and culturally needs to be integrated into other cultures if it is to be used effectively.

Cultural integration requires translation, facilitation and adaptation.

The process of double-loop learning requires the developers and users to share experiences and knowledge. This involves unlearning as well as learning. This technique is powerful in organisations which have a history of inadequate technology transfer that ignores differences in national, industrial and technological cultures.

It is useful in organisations that traditionally have strong demarcations where responsibility for the whole system is avoided.

4 Building and using intellectual capital (see Diagram 4)


This highlights the broad composition of intellectual capital.

It expands the discussion beyond the narrower static concepts of intellectual property to include contributions made by innovative work.

It effectively develops value chains and values that link the relationship between customers and suppliers. It opens up the knowledge that is traditionally stored in closed structures.

organisational development change management

organisational development change management

organisational development change management

(source: Bill Ford, 2001)

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