Wolfgang Tonninger

Navigating in the Sea of Change

It was Douglas McGregor (The Human Side of Enterprise) from the MIT who distinguished two types of managers according to the way they are treating employees. Type 1 thinks that employess are lazy by nature und try to avoid labor whenever and whereever it is possible (Theory X). Type 2 thinks that employees are, by nature, ambitious and motivated to take over responsibility (Theory Y).

But it was not this distinction which made him famous. It was his insight, that it is not about the decision if "Theory X" or "Theory Y" is true and that both theories are right at the same time.

50 years later Frederic Laloux resamples this piece of thought to restory what we think about organizations.

If you view people with mistrust (Theory X) and subject them to all sorts of controls, rules, and punishments, they will try to game the system, and you will feel your thinking is validated. Meet people with practices based on trust, and they will return your trust with responsible behaviour. … At the core, this comes down to the fundamental spiritual truth that we reap what we saw: fear breads fear and trust breads trust.“ Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organizations, s.109

The consequences for classical (micro-)management approaches are shattering. Because the control and reporting system produces exactly the circumstances to which it considers itself to be the response. In this downward leading spiral even the classical opposition between process and culture becomes obsolete. Who still believes that in change-processes one has to carefully seperate artifically enacted wellness-events from the clinical implementation of prefabricated processes, is ignoring the fact that day-to-day interactions are always meshing hard and and soft factors, so that culture can be a nut too hard to crack.

In this new approach (based on Ken Wilbers integral theory) change is not anymore a hierarchical act of volition but a dynamic balancing of four closely correlated dimensions: individually 1) the taken-for-granted beliefs (invisible) and 2) the behaviour (visible), and collectively 3) the cultural dimension (invisible, soft) and 4) the structures and processes (visible, hard).

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Worth the mention that the affectation follows usually a certain chronology: The assumption of a leader that 1) people are motivated by money and recognition is accompanied 4) by appropriate objectives and incentives (bonuses), which results 2) in a competitive and ego-centric behaviour as a 3) determining pattern for the corporate culture.  

At the same time this model is a showcase of systemic inter-dependency - underlining that any change in one of these four dimensions affects all the others.

What does this mean for the Re-Authoring-Process within organizations?

That you can - in T-group like protected spaces - reflect belief systems and cultural patterns and re-author personal stories and identity constructions, as long as you don't have linear implementation processes in mind and are aware of the structural forces which are at work outside the seminar rooms.

Hierarchical structures with non-hierarchical cultures – it’s easy to see the two together like oil and water. That is why leaders in these companies insist that culture needs constant attention and continuous investment. In a hierarchical structure that gives managers power over their subordinates, a constant investment of energy is required to keep managers from using that power in hierarchical ways. … (whereas) culture in self-managing structures is both less necessary and more impactful than in traditional organizations. Less necessary because culture is not needed to overcome the troubles brought about by hierarchy. And more impactful, for the same reason.“ Laloux (2014, s.228f)

Less necessary and more impactful. That sounds great and reflects the opaque moment of dialectics. Because culture is both a vehicle and the fuel it needs, but not the end. You will not find company culture on the vision boards presented by change managers. Because culture is what happens every day. It is how we construct meaning treating each other. It is made by the way people interact and what they consider worth telling.

Against this background we should abandon the metaphor of the organization as a ship - where the managers gather around the steering wheel while the employees are working below deck. That is last centuries thinking. Let us better imagine a boat, a rowing boat, a coxless eight. You can see it? We are rowing and steering at the same time.


Lesestoff #1 – Chené Swart, Petra Sammer, Wolfgang Tonninger, Michael Müller

Heute möchten wir eine Reihe von Büchern vorstellen, die unser Denken über die Arbeit mit Geschichten in Organisationen geprägt haben. Gleichzeitig möchten wir auf anstehende Veröffentlichungen unserer Referenten hinweisen:

Chené Swart – Re-Authoring the World

Re-authoring the World: The Narrative Lens and Practices for Organisations, Communities and Individuals, invites readers to a transformational way of being in the world. It translates the Narrative Therapy approach and practices for people outside the therapeutic context that are interested in shifting the stories of their own lives as well as the communities and organisations that they work in.

Wir empfehlen unsere Masterclass für Alle, die sich intensiver mit dem Ansatz von Chené Swart auseinandersetzen möchten.

Petra Sammer – Visual Storytelling

Wir erleben einen »visuellen Tsunami«, Bildelemente prägen immer stärker das ausufernde Medienangebot. PR und Marketing sind deshalb gefordert, Interesse durch packende Geschichten und passende Bilder zu wecken. Storytelling - derzeit die erfolgreichste Technik moderner Unternehmenskommunikation - wird dann noch wirksamer, wenn sie konsequent visuelle Aspekte berücksichtig und zum Visual Storytelling wird.

Petra Sammer ist eine unserer Key Note Speaker und Impulsgeber für BEYOND STORYTELLING.

Wolfgang Tonninger & Udo Bräu – Wegmarken im Möglichkeitenland

„Wegmarken im Möglichkeitenland“ ist ein Erkundungsbuch für Menschen in Veränderungsprozessen; und für Change-Begleiter, die den Menschen in den Prozessen nicht aus den Augen verloren haben. Ein Versuch, den narrativen Ansatz aus der Familientherapie – mit den Gallionsfiguren Michael White, David Epston und Karl Tomm – im Unternehmenskontext weiterzudenken. Dabei geht es – anders als beim klassischen Storytelling – nicht darum, Geschichten als Transportmittel zu instrumentalisieren, sondern darum, die Dynamik der Identitätskonstruktion zu nutzen, um Fenster ins Möglichkeitenland aufzustoßen und daraus neue Handlungsoptionen abzuleiten. StoryWork im Unternehmenskontext ist immer Kulturentwicklung; ein Zugang zu den weichen Faktoren, die die harten Fakten schaffen; ein Zugang, der kulturelle Einengungen hinterfragt und einen Spielraum zurückerobert, in dem Diversität nicht nur möglich, sondern als Innovationsmotor wünschenswert ist.

Wolfgang Tonninger Blog: almblitz.com. Einige Beiträge auch auf unserem Blog.

Vorbestellen:

Michael Müller – Einführung in narrative Methoden der Organisationsberatung

Die Arbeit mit Geschichten – Mehr als Storytelling...

Die Identität eines Unternehmens oder einer Organisation wird zu einem Gutteil durch die Geschichten hergestellt, die Mitarbeiter und Führungskräfte, Kunden und Öffentlichkeit darüber erzählen. Wenn Erzählprozesse Identitäten schaffen, am Leben halten und kommunizieren, bedeutet Organisationsentwicklung immer auch Arbeit an der Narration.

Das bewusste Arbeiten mit diesen Geschichten in Unternehmen ist heute unter dem Schlagwort „Storytelling“ weit verbreitet. Dieses Buch zeigt, dass narrative Methoden weit über das reine Erzählen hinausgehen: Welche Geschichten konstruiert eine Person, ein Team oder ein Unternehmen über sich selbst? Wie lassen sich diese Geschichten und damit das eigene Selbstverständnis und das Handeln verändern?

Vor dem Hintergrund solcher Fragen vermittelt Michael Müller, Professor für Medienanalyse und Medienkonzeption, narrative Ansätze, Methoden und Veränderungsdesigns. Ihre Anwendung im Einzelcoaching sowie für die Organisationsentwicklung und das Change-Management erläutert er aus der Perspektive des systemischen Beraters.

Michael Müller hält die Eröffnungskeynote und einen Workshop auf BEYOND STORYTELLING. Gemeinsam mit Christine Erlach und anderen hat er die Ausbildung Narratives Management ins Leben gerufen.

CLIMBING MOUNTAINS. MOVING MOUNTAINS – Culture Change from a narrative perspective

Culture is continuously co-created. In society and organizations every conversation reflects culture and shapes identities. The way we relate to each other and to our organizations. The endless process of meaning making is not happening in a vacuum but culturally embedded. The construction of identity is always challenging existing codes and cultural patterns.

The fact that our self is a construction nurtured by social contexts is from a narrative view not disappointing but a massive opportunity; because every construction is principally de- and re-constructable, and therefore shapeable by us.

A workshop for StoryWorkers-to-be – people who want to challenge cultural fixations and belief systems, and try to open windows into the possibility land.