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Changing Conversations in Organizations: A Complexity Approach to Change (Complexity and Emergence in Organizations) [Paperback]

Dr Patricia Shaw
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 July 2002 Complexity and Emergence in Organizations
Drawing on the theoretical foundations laid out in earlier volumes of this series, this book describes an approach to organizational change and development that is informed by a complexity perspective. It clarifies the experience of being in the midst of change. Unlike many books that presume clarity of foresight or hindsight, the author focuses on the essential uncertainty of participating in evolving events as they happen and considers the creative possibilities of such participation.

Most methodologies for organizational change are firmly rooted in systems thinking, as are many approaches to process consultation and facilitation. This book questions the suggestion that we can choose and design new futures for our organizations in the way we often hope. Avoiding the widely favoured use of two by two matrices, idealized schemas and simplified typologies that characterize much of the management literature on change, this book encourages the reader to live in the immediate paradoxes and complexities of organizational life, where we must act with intention into the unknowable. The author uses detailed reflective narrative to evoke and elaborate on the experience of participating in the conversational processes of human organizing. It asserts that possibilities are perpetually sustained and changed by the conversational life of organizations.

This book will be valuable to consultants, managers and leaders, indeed all those who are dissatisfied with idealized models of change and are searching for ways to develop an effective change practice.

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Changing Conversations in Organizations: A Complexity Approach to Change (Complexity and Emergence in Organizations) + Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together: A Pioneering Approach to Communicating in Business and in Life
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (25 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415249147
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415249140
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 15.7 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 326,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Must of the thinking about orgazational change suggests that we can choose and design new futures for our firms. Questioning this idea, this book also describes an approach to change and development informed by a complexity perspective..

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
I began to ask myself what kind of work I was doing as an organizational consultant, when I found that from time to time I was being accused, albeit with curiosity, of not being a 'proper' consultant, or coach, or facilitator. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
At last, recognition that real change doesn't happen purely because of top-down, management dictats, but is embodied by real people having real conversations that are not structured by clear objectives, goals and processes. Inherently scary for all those who rely on management as a control process in their organisations and change as a corporately-guided process, this instead looks at the informal organisation and how creating spaces for conversations between like-minded change agents can be the most effective.
This veers slightly too far into complexity and informal processes only for me - I believe that a balance is required between formal change and informal conversations, but this is still an important broadening of the discussion on corporate change.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Patricia Shaw wrote a great book because it gives a completely different view on the contribution of the "change" consultant to organizational change. Don't introduce models and schemas but initiate and fuel conversations in the organization not as a planned event but as a way of working. The strong point of this book is that Shaw lets the reader look into her consultant kitchen and takes you along with her "discoveries". It is a must read for every consultant with an urge to initiate all kind of change initiatives in organizations. And it is the most concrete example of the where the complexity 'school' from Ralph Stacey stands for I could find.
I have only one objection to this otherwise fantastic book. Shaw finds it necessary to set herself aside from all the other alternative change approaches in her last chapter. I would have liked this book even more if she just had skipped that chapter.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and useful 19 May 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I agree with the previous reviewers - this is a thought provoking and useful book.

I recognised a huge amount from my own experience of working in and with organisations. The examples of consulting engagements ring completely true - for me at least. And I really enjoyed having my natural suspicions of formal planning processes confirmed academically.

I also found the chapter which compares the Shaw/Stacey approach with other better recognised approaches really useful. The simple format of "what is similar" - "what is different" helped clarify their position.

Like Shaw, I am a tiny bit suspicious of many of the approaches she describes (Open Space Technology, Future Search Conferencing etc). And it helped me to think about the reasons why I have that instinctive response.

However, I really missed in that section, and more generally, the sense that she and Stacey are building on the "shoulders of giants". It would have really helped me throughout to have heard even a tiny acknowledgement of the remarkable contribution of others to the practice of OD. At times it really got in my way - I kept getting the sense that the author "doesn't have much time for" Schein, Argyris, Bohm, Bion etc - people who whatever their failings might be have in my view made enormous contributions.

I also wondered whether there is a simple flaw in her thinking. Patricia Shaw is clearly an highly intelligent and articulate woman. There were times when I was worried that her explanations were going to disappear into the realm of 'meta-twaddle' - but she always rescued things, in my view. She is 'clear' herself, despite the difficulty of some of the material.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A completely different view on the role of the change agent 11 May 2008
By G. de Groot - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Patricia Shaw wrote a great book because it gives a completely different view on the contribution of the "change" consultant to organizational change. Don't introduce models and schemas but initiate and fuel conversations in the organization not as a planned event but as a way of working. The strong point of this book is that Shaw lets the reader look into her consultant kitchen and takes you along with her "discoveries". It is a must read for every consultant with an urge to initiate all kind of change initiatives in organizations. And it is the most concrete example of the where the complexity 'school' from Ralph Stacey stands for I could find.
I have only one objection to this otherwise fantastic book. Shaw finds it necessary to set herself aside from all the other alternative change approaches in her last chapter. I would have liked this book even more if she just had skipped that chapter.
5.0 out of 5 stars Organization Development 2.0 29 Nov 2013
By Ronald p Milam - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Thought provoking, action inspiring! Patricia brings a complexity lens to organization development and facilitation. I recommend it to organization development practitioners looking to expand their capacity to support change.
4.0 out of 5 stars An important read for change agents 22 May 2013
By Jeffrey Marsh - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Dr. Shaw's work hopefully will re-ignite more action research in transformative organizational change.

There is a long thread of academic conversation that suggests major change is vastly complex and chaotic to say the very least. Predetermining the endpoint in major business change/re-engineering has proven to be highly unsuccessful for decades. New thinking about lasting change is called for. Dr. Shaw, in reflecting on her consulting experiences highlights these issues and, at the same time, offers an approach/mindset that change agents should seriously consider.

I can personally attest to the efficacy of such a stance in affecting change.

Jeff Marsh Ph.D.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A formal meeting will never quite be good enough ever again 2 Mar 2007
By H. Rawlinson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I really enjoyed this book. It is very readable and very practical. I have a Masters Degree in Complexity Theory and this book beautifully complimented my understanding of the power of conversations to get to the deeper complexity of issues and the limitations of our traditional workplace meetings. I have been pushing for a conversational structure to my meetings at work (I work in organisational development), discussion and development groups that I run outside work and in my interpersonal relationships.
0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Arrived on time and in great condition! 2 Nov 2009
By D. V. Hernandez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book arrived on time and in great condition! I was very pleased with the purchase and price.
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