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Posts Tagged ‘21st Century’

Futurist Alvin Toffler | 1928 – 2016

Guest Blogger: Jeff Suderman

AlvinToffler-22-1600x900This week the world lost a great mind when Alvin Toffler passed away at the age of 87.

Perhaps the greatest futurist of his time, Toffler is best known for his book Future Shock (1970). “His insatiable curiosity drove him to challenge common perceptions and offer keen insights into the trajectory of business and civilizations” (Toffler Associates). As a guru of the post-industrial age he is heralded for his anticipation of the transformation brought about by the rise of digital technology decades before it occurred.

In honor of his legacy, today’s blog contains 20 of his best quotes.

  1. The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.
  2. Change is not merely necessary to life – it is life.
  3. Most managers were trained to be the thing they most despise — bureaucrats.
  4. Technology feeds on itself. Technology makes more technology possible.
  5. Knowledge is the most democratic source of power.
  6. You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.
  7. One of the definitions of sanity is the ability to tell real from unreal. Soon we’ll need a new definition.
  8. Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time.
  9. You can use all the quantitative data you can get, but you still have to distrust it and use your own intelligence and judgment.
  10. Anyone nit-picking enough to write a letter of correction to an editor doubtless deserves the error that provoked it.
  11. If you don’t have a strategy, you’re part of someone else’s strategy.
  12. A library is a hospital for the mind.
  13. The future always comes too fast and in the wrong order.
  14. Individuals need life structure. A life lacking in comprehensible structure is an aimless wreck. The absence of structure breeds breakdown.
  15. It does little good to forecast the future of semiconductors or energy, or the future of the family (even one’s own family), if the forecast springs from the premise that everything else will remain unchanged. For nothing will remain unchanged. The future is fluid, not frozen. It is constructed by our shifting and changing daily decisions, and each event influences all others.
  16. The Law of Raspberry Jam: the wider any culture is spread, the thinner it gets.
  17. It is better to err on the side of daring than the side of caution.
  18. Parenthood remains the greatest single preserve of the amateur.
  19. Any decent society must generate a feeling of community. Community offsets loneliness. It gives people a vitally necessary sense of belonging. Yet today the institutions on which community depends are crumbling in all the techno-societies. The result is a spreading plague of loneliness.
  20. Science fiction is held in low regard as a branch of literature, and perhaps it deserves this critical contempt. But if we view it as a kind of sociology of the future, rather than as literature, science fiction has immense value as a mind-stretching force for the creation of the habit of anticipation. Our children should be studying Arthur C. Clarke, William Tenn, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury and Robert Sheckley, not because these writers can tell them about rocket ships and time machines but, more important, because they can lead young minds through an imaginative exploration of the jungle of political, social, psychological, and ethical issues that will confront these children as adults.

Alvin Toffler | 1928 – 2016


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Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

 


 

Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International Lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available on Amazon. Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He holds a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight from Regent University, Virginia. You can contact him athttp://www.maximumchange.com

The Open Organization – 2nd Edition

OpenOrgCover2ndEditionIn 2014 I published what is thought to be the seminal work on the subject of Open Organizations. My goal was to present a text that provided a template for developing an Open Organization.

Nearly a year after my book was published, Jim Whitehurst CEO or Red Hat published his book The Open Organization. Igniting Passion and Performance. What I love about Jim’s book aside from the cool title is that he approached the subject from his perspective as a leader leading an Open Organization. Jim’s book put skin on the idea of Open. I would argue that Jim humanized the concepts. It is one thing to write about an organization from a case study perspective and an entirely new experience when the writer is living it out in real time.

Since the publication of my book, I have continued researching and writing on the subject of Open. I am proud to say that I am now an active member of the OpenSource.com group as an Ambassadors and Open Evangelist. Because the idea of an Open Organization is still evolving I felt it time to produce a 2nd edition of my book and address some of the changes. While most of the text remains the same and changes were mostly mechanical in nature, there are four major changes in this edition. They are:

  1. The book is now in softback and the price is much more reasonable than the original text. $30.00 on Amazon.
  2. More detail was added to Chapter 4 under the heading of Meritocracy. I begin to address some of the early challenges researchers have noted in Meritocratic organizations.
  3. More detail was added under the heading of Holacracy in Chapter 4. Where in the early text I recognized Holacracy as a form of Open, I have since stepped back from that idea and no longer consider it to be a pure Open system.
  4. In this text I begin to more deeply address the concepts of a distributed workforce. The implication of a growing distributed workforce is central to the expansion of the 21st century workforce.

You might be wondering what comes next. I will continue to publish articles, blogs, and videos on the evolution of Open Organizations. I am also writing my next book which will focus in on some key elements of the 21st century organization.

To get a copy of The Open Organization 2nd Edition – visit Amazon HERE.

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Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International Lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available on Amazon. Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He holds a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight from Regent University, Virginia. You can contact him at http://www.maximumchange.com

Book Review: Under New Management

Under New Management Book CoverI have been saying for some time now that the way we do business is broken. I guess I should say that our models for achieving success are no longer sustainable. In fact, we have outgrown our one-size-fits-all approach to business process, leadership, and structure.  Something has to give…. and it has.

In his new book, Under New Management, Author David Burkus peels back our stale expectations of leading and managing and opens our eyes to new and innovative approaches to business. To the classically trained leader, his concepts can be downright provocative and will challenge the very core of their beliefs. Some mind bending examples include outlawing email, paying people to quit, ditching performance appraisals, firing the managers, and writing org charts in pencil. The managerial curmudgeon might scoff at these ideas as fantasy and think they will never work.

Burkus anticipates these arguments and takes the additional steps needed to move the reader from ethereal to relative by offering examples of organizations who are successfully embracing these very ideas. While many of these new concepts may be born out of the technology industry, Burkus offers examples outside of the tech field. Real case studies from Volkswagen, Wegmans Food Markets, Shake Shack, Starbucks and Whole Foods.

Gone are the days of “this is not how we do things around here” and I couldn’t be happier. The 21st Century will require new ways of thinking and new approaches. These approaches may very well go beyond the ideas of outlawing email and losing the standard vacation policies. We don’t have to agree with everything in the book – but I think Burkus invites us into something deeper. He invites us to free ourselves to pave the way and come up with new and creative ideas that feed the human spirit and engage human happiness and productivity in the process. Under New Management should be one of the keys that release us from the old ways of thinking and finally give us permission to break the rules.

I strongly recommend that every leader read this book and then imagine the possibilities when we begin to “redesign the factory” and develop meaningful change in our own companies. Under New Management is Available now on Amazon http://tiny.cc/fvz29x. You can reach David through his website at http://davidburkus.com/.

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Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International Lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available through Ashgate Publishing. Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. Twitter: @maximumchange, E-mail: philip@maximumchange.com.

The Future of Working: Dystopia or Utopia?

Cbw_bXzWAAIt_ap                  Image Source: (McCormick 2016).

Recently I read an article from The Verge by Rich McCormick (2016) regarding Mark Zuckerberg’s presentation at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The focus of this article was a picture of Mark Zuckerberg walking past attendees who are wearing Samsung’s Gear Virtual Reality headsets. Rich states that the image,

“…looks like concept art for a new dystopian sci-fi film. A billionaire superman with a rictus grin, striding straight past human drones, tethered to machines and blinded to reality by blinking plastic masks.”

Normally I would chuckle and move on, however this picture represents deeper insights about the future of our workforce and leadership. In fact, last year my colleague Dr. Jeff Suderman and I published a similar scenario in our paper “Envisioning Leadership in 2050: Four Future Scenarios.” In our article we presented four scenarios which depict how we might engage human capital by the year 2050. Two of these scenarios explored the possible dehumanizing effects or impact of technology in the future workplace.

One scenario focused on something we called Bio-Circuitry Leadership. It was represented by an image found in the movie Edge of Tomorrow in which soldiers were partnered with armored body suits. We imagined a scenario in which there would be “minimal separation between humankind and machinery/technology and very often, humans must adapt to the needs of technology instead of technology being adapted to meet our needs” (Suderman & Foster, 2015).  In this scenario, organizations and their leaders become “a complex blend of the best of both worlds: machines and humanity. The era of bio-circuitry leadership means that organizations have leveraged people and technology into a seamless system. It is difficult to distinguish between who people are and what they do because of how effectively human capacity is enhanced and blended with technology” (Suderman & Foster, 2015).

The second scenario presented a contrasting view and was titled Automaton Leadership. “By definition, an automaton is a moving mechanical device made in imitation of a human being. As a result of the relentless progression of technology, human capital will be shaped into a group of robot-like devices to accomplish the betterment of our world” (Suderman & Foster, 2015). As this scenario unfolds we find a world in which the “economic collapses of the early twenty-first century coupled with a decreasing full-time workforce led to a wide acceptance of technologies in everyday life” (Suderman & Foster, 2015). Under this scenario we imagined a world in which individuals of working age “…apply for and are fitted with docking harnesses which permit them to connect directly into the work grid. The Internet of everything now includes humans themselves. Individuals strap themselves into a work pod and the docking harness connects their entire body into the Internet” (Suderman & Foster, 2015). In this world the lines between “reality and virtual are merged as individuals spend most of their waking time connecting to the network” (Suderman & Foster, 2015).

Dr. Suderman and I recognize that our storylines are no more than best guesses about how our future will unfold.  However, the usefulness of scenarios about the future is not how accurate the stories turn out to be, but rather, how they help us shape the possibilities of the future. Twenty years ago few of us knew or even thought about the impact a smart phone would have on our lives. Today, we find mobile technologies impacting everyday decisions such as grocery shopping, taxi services and hotel accommodations. The seemingly innocuous introduction of ubiquitous technology has shaped a new economy right before our very eyes.

The idea of a future workforce strapped into some kind of technology may not be as farfetched as we would like it to be. In fact, most of us are already invisibly tethered to our smart devices. Laugh if you will, but the picture of Mark Zuckerberg and the audience of drones could very well be a glimpse into what is to come.

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IMG_0100-001Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International Lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available through Ashgate Publishing.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. Twitter: @maximumchange, E-mail: philip@maximumchange.com.

Dr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, professor and consultant who works in the field of organizational development. He works with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman, E-mail: jeff@jeffsuderman.com.

 

References:

McCormick, Rich (2016). This image of Mark Zuckerberg says so much about our future. The Verge. Retrieved on February 21, 2016 from http://www.theverge.com/2016/2/22/11087890/mark-zuckerberg-mwc-picture-future-samsung

Suderman, J.L., &Foster, P.A. (2015). “Envisioning Leadership in 2050: Four Future Scenarios. A Case for relevant 2050 leadership – preparing for change.” Building Leadership Bridges. Sage Publishing.

 

Dealing with New Organizational Models

962dab_84da176577754dacb1b687d5fd2d2458Many that follow my work know that I am deeply focused on the 21st century organization. Specifically, what it means to lead, follow and otherwise operate a business in this new century. I have often made the bold statement that we are witnessing the greatest shift in managerial protocols and organizational leadership since Frederick Taylor adopted the Scientific Management approach in the 1890s.  For many the shift is nearing seismic conditions. In fact, the models we use to define an organization or even an employee is shifting faster than we can comprehend. With this challenge comes the problem of how government regulators approach the emerging concepts. How government regulators define and recognize organizational models and practices have profound effect on everyone involved. Allow me to offer a case study to expound on how such problems in defining the new organization has devastating effects on business owners and their human capital. I have a dear friend and colleague who is working on gaining legal status with a goal of Citizenship in the United States. All he is asking for is to extend his L1A visa which is an intra company executive transfer visa. It was denied for a reason that says “we don’t see that you are doing executive tasks.” While I do not pretend to have all the details, I do have a grasp on the fundamental problems in his case. He owns a micro-corporation. A micro-corporation is one that has a small number of employees and engages in building alliances with other consultants and professionals in their respective field. He, in essence, has a distributed workforce of professionals available to meet the needs of his clients. An interesting fact is that his organization has been growing substantially.  His company grew from over $125,000 in 2013 to nearly $700,000 last year. He has actually hired full time employees who work directly on the payroll of his company. My friend’s business model is the epitome of an emergent 21st century organization. I should also note that he has paid income tax on both his company and his personal income.  His company is very much a legal entity within the context of the state in which his company resides. Here is where the rub comes. The United States Government does not recognize his micro-organization as a true company. They are having a hard time grasping that he is actually a business owner and thusly have denied him Legal Status here in the United States. Not only has he been a tax payer and upstanding citizen, his family is here with him and his children attend American schools. The government has said No to him. In my opinion – they have said no because they don’t understand the new economy. They don’t understand the realities of a globalized, distributed workforce model. I give you this case study as an example of the immense mountain we must climb to help regulators change their view of what a business is much less what an employee is. A recent poll shows that by the year 2025 over 50% of the working population in the United States will be freelancers – consultants. If these trends play themselves out, we are anticipating this number to increase to over 60% by the year 2040. It is unacceptable for regulators to define today’s business under an outdated, out-of-touch context. The time is now for society to catch up with today’s reality of our workforce. We can no longer afford to define organizations using 19th and 20th century ideals. Unfortunately getting the government to change their opinion is a slow process.

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Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International Lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available through Ashgate Publishing.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. He can be reached at philip@maximumchange.com.

Workforce 2.0: The Strategic Alliance Workforce of the 21st Century.

2025 and Beyond

As you walk into your home office, you set your Computer Anywhere Device (CAD) on your desk. The CAD, about the size of a silver dollar coin and as thick as a credit card, activates when placed on a flat surface. Sitting down, you lean forward and focus your attention on the holograph screen hovering over your desk. In the other room you can hear the faint chatter of your children as they attend school remotely. You speak, “CAD, date and time please.” In a clear voice CAD responds, “February 8th, 2025. The time is now 0900. Would you like to know your appointments and tasks for today?”  You briefly think to yourself how far computers have come in just a short period of time. In fact, you think, the constant we face is a world quickly changing before our very eyes.

For the United States and much of Europe, the world has already begun to change as it relates to the way organizations interact with their employees. The field of employment has shifted since the market crash early in the century. By the year 2040 it is estimated several emerging social and technological changes will greatly affect the way organizations view employment and human capital in the Westernized World. You are one of many examples of this shift in employment and the reason you now work from home as an independent contractor and member of several strategic alliances.

Your CAD speaks again, “You have an incoming conference call from Jeff and Dustin.”  You turn your attention back to your desk and tell your CAD, “display calls.” The hologram over your desk shifts and images of your colleagues appear. You met Jeff and Dustin in your doctoral program a few years ago and the three of you formed a very successful strategic alliance. Today you are meeting to discuss a pending RFP the three of you are bidding on together in the coming days. Your alliance with your colleagues has opened the door for all of you to compete with much larger organization on projects that you would have otherwise avoided.

 

The Great Shift – Why Things are Changing

Since the late 1990s through the turn of this century, Americans have begun working longer and we are beginning to see an increase in what we now call the Graying of the American worker. Job-sharing, consulting, coaching and strategist positions have been growing amongst the Boomer population and Generation X, for the first time, is taking over the reins of leadership. While the country is growing older, fertility rates are dropping amongst American women which ultimately will create a deficit in human capital to replace retiring workers. If that weren’t difficult enough on businesses trying to fill positions, immigration is also on the decline in America creating an even greater deficit in available workers. As a result of all these trends, we are beginning to see demand and acceptance of more flexible, freelance and collaborative opportunities in an increasingly less secure world.

These emerging social and technological changes are forcing companies to move toward the use of short-term, independent contractors and consultants. With advances in technology and availability of WiFi in nearly every location, employees no longer need to pay to drive to an office setting every day nor will organizations need to continue supporting expensive office space. In fact these alliances, through advances in technology, open the door for workers who are no longer limited by geography, thereby permitting them to live anywhere they choose. Smaller offices and fewer employees working in those locations permit businesses to focus on finding and keeping essential employees while outsourcing the remaining positions to independent contractors. With these changes, businesses will be better able to shrink overall expenses and employees will no longer see themselves as being employed by a single company. Employees are now able to work anytime and anywhere they choose as long as they are able to meet their job objectives.

 

Strategic Alliances

Amongst the emerging trends, strategic alliances appear to be making the most progress. The future of employment appears focused more on an individual’s talent. In fact, it is estimated that most jobs of the future will require higher education, advanced skills and high-tech training. The twenty-first century organization will require an ability to share ideas, knowledge, resources and skills across organizational, generational, and cultural boundaries from within and outside of the organizational system.

Much like our opening scenario, the organization of the future will likely be an aggregate of individuals working together in an alliance rather than as employees. These alliances could last a few minutes or as long as necessary. The greatest challenge to the newly minted contractors will be learning how to think of themselves as a business rather than as an employee. Businesses of all sizes will begin to link themselves with other organizations to meet a common purpose. As product and services grow in complexity, so will the formation of strategic alliances increase. These alliances will produce benefits for all parties involved; bringing value to the partnership through skills, connections, and resources.

 

Closing in on 2025

The year 2025 is closer than you may realize. Technological and social changes are moving at an alarming rate and while many may see the opening scenario as fantasy, the trends say otherwise. Strategic Alliances will breed a greater competitive advantage, create influence and consolidate resources and expertise within a given organization and in a future that requires less human capital to produce a product or service. Now is the time for organization to begin examining the impact of a shrinking workforce. Strategic alliances will likely be the formal response to much of the forecasted deficit in human capital. Such alliances will begin to fill the gaps in personnel, skills and experience while supplementing and strengthening the organizations existing strategies. Organizations which adopt this future view of human capital will face some particular challenges. For one, organizations will likely become flatter and only certain essential job functions will remain within the organization. There will be a greater level of shared information and even evaluations will come from co-workers rather than the traditional top-down leadership review. In fact, we very well could be witnessing the end of much of hierarchies we’ve grown accustomed to since the early 1800s.

Trends indicate organization of the future will rely heavily on alliance and collaboration. In 2011, The Economist Magazine reported some 250,000 firms paid over $1.3 million to independent contracts. This number is estimated to continue rising as companies seek to reduce overhead costs related to payroll taxes, healthcare and inflation in general. These alliances offer organizations an instant source of human capital whenever the need arises and for as long as required without the traditional long-term overhead costs. Alliances will require classically trained managers to change their view of leadership including much of the command and control many are accustomed to. To achieve success, this will require executive leadership to not only sponsor but fully embrace these alliances as a way of life and ultimately long-term success for the organization. Outside of executive buy-in, these alliances must create benefits for all parties involved.

This shift in organizational structure can take time to adopt yet it is believed that these alliances will be the most effective way to obtain a competitive advantage in the future. However, organizations may experience managerial resistance in adopting strategic alliances. Success is reliant on the commitment of the organizations leadership. It is necessary for organizations to address the fears of management and leadership in an effort to overcome delays in adoption.

The days of an abundant workforce are coming to a close. This shift in demographics will require organizations to view their structures far beyond the traditional business school training. Outsourcing and strategic alliances are quickly becoming the norm whether we embrace it or not. Experts claim that there is a lack of future-readiness in the U.S. of employers and employment. Great challenges are ahead of us and the best way to address them is take the long-view and plan ahead for a new economy, new organizational structures, and a mobile diverse workforce like we’ve never seen before. These changes will require rethinking the view of hierarchies, traditional employment, and what it means to be self-employed. Technology will play a key role in the adoption and success of the organization of the future. With few government regulations on self-employment in place and organizations willing to embrace strategic alliances and independent contractors, the days of traditional employment may very well be numbered.

 

Back to the Future | 2025

The conference call with your colleagues went very well. As their holographic images fade from before you, you sit back and smile. “CAD,” you say, “Open RFP Alpha457.” Your CAD responds, “Opened. What would you like me to do?” You begin to dictate to CAD and so another day as an independent contractor in this new world economy begins. You smile and remember a time when you used to work in a cubical farm and you think to yourself, “I’ve surely come a long way from those early days in the working world.” You hear your kids in the other room again and you think about their future. They will never experience what you know to be a traditional working environment.  You begin to wonder what their future world will be like twenty years from now. Those thoughts will have to wait as your CAD reminds you of a lunch appointment. You pick up your CAD, place it in your pocket and head out the door.

 

Philip A Foster, CEO of Maximum Change, Inc. is a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. Facilitating change through the design and implementation of strategies, strategic foresight and planning! He holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership from Regent University where he is completing his Doctoral Studies in Strategic Leadership (Anticipated December 2013). Philip is a prolific writer, international lecturer and serves as Adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN.

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Skype: philip.a.foster | 615-216-5667

Why We Change | Understanding and Leading the Driving Forces of Change within a System

It is early Monday morning at Any+Company, Inc. and you make your way to your office with a great burden weighing heavily on your mind. The company has struggled since the market crash of 2008 and it is becoming painfully clear that business as usual is no longer. You know change must come to the organization if it is going to survive. The lingering question on your mind is how do we make those changes? The culture of the organization worked prior to the crash, but now with tough competition and tight margins, you are faced with doing more with less human capital than ever. As you ponder the need to structure your organization for the realities of the 21st century, you remember a conversation you had with a colleague on social change. If anyone can give insight into your conundrum, it has to be him. With a few keystrokes, you send him an email asking for insight into how a leader can effect positive lasting change within their organization. Little did you know at that moment you were about to embark on a journey through the complex world of social change theory.

Later that morning the phone rings and it is your colleague. He begins to explain that change and more specifically social change is complex and requires tools and models to make better sense of the world around us. Whether change is required within an organization, a community or the world at large we must consider the working theories as explanation of the dynamics and characteristics of our changing world. Unfortunately we find that it is not as simple as one tool or idea but many different theories that begin to construct the understanding of change. As a leader you may be struggling with questions like: what motivates human action; how do things change; or what will be the most significant change over the next 10 to 20 years? To create change, we must consider all the driving forces present within a given system.

But what are those driving forces, you ask? This is where it gets complicated. Driving forces can be viewed through the lenses of any of the ten sociological theories: progress, development, technology, culture, cycle, conflict, market, power, evolution, or emergence.

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Diagram 1: Bishop and Hines (2012) Social Change.

To assist you with understanding the process of change theories, your colleague sends you a diagram from a text he has been reading on Social Change by Bishop and Hines. He explains that:

  1. Progress theory assumes that today is better than yesterday and the future will be better than today. So you might ask how progress theory will play into the changes within your organization. How is today better than yesterday and how will the future be better than today?
  2. Development theory assumes society will grow increasingly complex and moving in a consistent direction over time. You might begin to ask how society has increased in its complexity since the crash of 2008 or in which direction does society appear to be moving and what you should do about it as a leader or organization.
  3. Technology theory assumes there is a primary driver and that technological development proceeds on its own and is indefinitely capable of supporting individuals at a higher standard of living. You may begin to ask how technology is driving the changes being created in your industry. Can that technology sustain a higher standard of living?
  4. Culture theory assumes that a society is based on its culture more than on its material environment or its technologies and that ideas are the key component that gives the culture the ability to drive change. What influence does the culture have on the organization and what challenges will the organization face as it seeks to make necessary changes? What is the makeup of worldviews within our system? Our worldview is a set of ideas we hold related to the basic makeup of our environment.
  5. Cycle theory assumes there is no specific directional change and that change can be experienced in terms of peaks and valleys; that change eventually reverses over a long period of time. You may begin to ask yourself if your organization or even your industry experiences cycles of business. You might need to identify time frames for those cycles and then begin to examine what forces are at place and when will the cycle move from a peak to a valley and back again.
  6. Conflict theory assumes there are different groups in conflict with each other, working to achieve their own goals and implement their own agendas. Conflict binds people of a given group more closely together and conflict amongst groups motivates individuals to work harder for their own goals and increases the rate of certain social changes. You may want to know which groups within your organization are in conflict with other groups in the organization. What is motivating the groups to work harder and are those groups in conflict with the overall goals of the organization?
  7. Market theory assumes there are no limits to our wants and that conflict and competition will be the motivators for our actions. Market theory believes that the production of goods and services are the most important mission of its society and economy and that investment is the mechanism for progress. You may ask what influence the market and competition plays on the changes the organization is experiencing.
  8. Power theory assumes that people are free to influence the future as they wish and that they make conscious choices to influence the future so that they can achieve certain goals for themselves and for or despite others. This theory believes that some people are more able to get what they want than others. You may wish to consider how the individuals in your organization are able to influence the future of the organization and to what extent the individuals will be able to make choices about that future that will render certain goals for themselves.
  9. Evolution theory assumes that there are three elements required for it to work: 1) differences among the individuals in the evolving entity; 2) a higher probability that some of the individuals will produce based on the fitness of the environment and; 3) there is an ability to pass traits from one generation to the next. You may wish to examine the differences within the individuals, the fitness of the organization and the probability that the individuals will produce based on the environment as well as how well the individuals are able to pass the successful traits on to others in the organization or system.
  10. And finally,The Emergence theory assumes social change rises from the bottom rather than the top-down. It assumes that the system consists of multiplicity of agents, each operating to achieve goals in an environment of other agents. This is much simpler form of conflict theory. No one knows yet how these patterns manifest themselves. You might consider the idea of an Emergence theory as encompassing all of the theories. You might begin to ask question such as, what changes in the system currently are seen as rising from the bottom up.

By now your head is spinning and you realize more than ever that change really is a complex matter. You begin to wonder why you can’t just pick on over another. Your colleague cautions you. To consider only one theory, void of any others, will render your view of change and your organization with bias. Once we begin to understand the root causes of change and we consider the basic assumptions, we are able to understand the dynamics of change itself. Your colleague warns you to avoid the trap many researchers fall into over change. They will choose only one theory and its assumptions without thinking about or considering that each theory results in a differing image of the future. As the future is altered by choosing one theory over another so will your choices be altered any scenarios you may wish to consider.

As you prepare to leave your office that evening you begin to realize that change is contingent on both internal and external forces. You think back over the ten theories your colleague provided you. You have your work cut out for you, but now that you have the basic structure of theories, you begin to evaluate the organization along these theoretical lines to create a picture of not only where your organization is but where it could be headed. You hear your friend’s final remarks as you close and lock the door. “Your ability to consider as many alternative scenarios and approaches as possible will depend on your ability to apply as many of these theories as possible and that will help you affect change in your organization.” As you get into your car and start the engine you begin to think through the ten theories and how each of them applies to your organization and the individuals within. Much work is needed but at least you have direction. The heavy mental weight you felt that morning begins sliding away and you begin to see the most logical path to developing answers to how you will compete in the 21st century. You know that your ability to compete is locked in your ability to anticipate and plan for the change necessary.

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Philip A Foster, MA is Founder/CEO of Maximum Change Inc. Maximum Change, Inc. is a Leadership and Business Consulting firm located in Middle Tennessee offering business & leadership consulting, speaking and training. Philip Foster is a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization, Strategic Leadership, Planning and Strategic Foresight. Facilitating change through the design and implementation of strategies, strategic foresight and strategic planning

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Skype: philip.a.foster | 615-216-5667