Last week I was facilitating a course in Oxford entitled ‘Toolkit for Organisational Change’. It’s a new three-day course that I designed for INTRAC as a ‘follow up’ to the five day Organisational Development course I have run since 2001. Despite the ‘raw edges’, the Toolkit course got positive feedback from the small group of six participants who attended. It was really interesting to hear them share their case-studies many of which concerned ‘live’ change processes that are going on in their respective organisations.
One issue that came over very strongly from the cases is the complex nature of the changes that organisations are dealing with. Other important points to emerge from the discussions were the particular challenges involved in facilitating change in large decentralised organisations and organisational partnerships. Many of the more conventional approaches to managing change assume that managers have control over the change process. The reality faced by organisations in civil society is that they are more likely to have influence rather than control over the change process. The change agents who support (but do not manage) change have an even more difficult task.
The course discussions have prompted me to start my own research into complex change in decentralised organisations. I will post what emerges from this and include links to interesting articles and materials when I come across them.