Today I have the pleasure of joining the Guardian Panel to conduct a Q&A on Organisational Change and the cost of transformation. Therefore, below are some of my thoughts in anticipation of the panel discussions. I apologise if due to time limitations they are not well articulated.
Reconceptualised notion of creativity within organisations.
The meaning of “creativity” within organisational context usually tends to be an impoverished version of its artistic significance. Indeed, creativity within organisational context is “objective” and “logical” while within artistic context it corresponds to subjective and adaptability. However, today’s competitive and market oriented environment demands an alternative and more flexible and fluid perspective. Hence, creativity should be embedded within organisational praxis as the dynamic interplay between creative mode of thought conceived within artistic literature and rational business thought within organisational literature.
Project orientation of organisational transformation:
There is a general tendency to define organisational transformation as well as delivery of services in terms of projects. However, projects are often conceived as processes aimed at producing specific deliverables efficiently. This emphasis on deliverables allows for benchmarking and a more “efficient” project management however, it also poses at least two important challenges, namely:
A. The emphasis on deliverables often distorts attention from the process and therefore, in a culture of immediate gratification, the entire relationship is reduced to a contractual bond based on exigent and circumstantial factors, that overshadow the quality value of the process;
B. This leads to a task oriented focus and the conceptualisation of project completion based on completion of a set of tasks and production of specific deliverables/outputs. This leads to closure of projects often before the intended organisational benefits have been secured.
Nonetheless, the central role of projects in the achievement of desired organisational transformation and outcomes have gained and continue to gain wider acceptance, and as such expose an inconsistency between the drivers of projects and the common management practices surrounding them.
Therefore, it is important that we appreciate the transformational value of projects when organising and/or outlining project details, and that projects and their deliverables are appropriately linked to the desired organisational outcomes and intended transformational changes, and therefore, project management processes function as an effective and dynamic mediator between outcome definition and outcome realisation.
Bring individuals into operationalisation of organisational change:
Placing organisational change within the context of literature it may be helpful to apply Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of field and habitus in order to develop a portfolio approach to organisational change.
Relocating the individual within the organisation based on notion of habitus allows for an appreciation of the multi-dimensionality of change (social, cultural, economic, and symbolic) and the temporal limitation and constant evolution of the sense of values, priorities, their definitions, as well as our methodologies and approaches over time.
Such a perspective allows for an analysis of the individuals’ microfoundations and their propensity to undertake institutional change without losing sight of the evolution – at a macro-analytical level - of the structure of the field in which these individuals operate.
In this sense, organisations should contribute to the objectification of the distribution of individual resources and this includes the econometrics as well as volume and structure of the institutional portfolio, while maintaining and reinforcing an appreciation of the “process” and “quality” value attribution within the organisation.
Rebalancing the reductionist econometrisation and financialisation of transformation
Organisations are and operate within a dynamic, complex and chaotic “reality”, and therefore, we need to appreciate the importance of feedback loops and the interconnectivity between organisational functions, concepts, values, and objectives.
Indeed, there are multiple drivers and values that motivate and sustain organisational change, however, considering that production and exchange are driven by scarcity, exchange, led by monetary transactions but not confined to them, often takes place between otherwise unrelated parties whose only approach to locating one another is via prices, and this is the essence of the increasing financialisation of our lives, our organisations and our world.
Hence, in this context, it is important to rebalance the purely market-oriented cycles of value generation and production by agents in confrontation with nature, with a more committed attitude to ethics and a more critical view of organisational goals, strategies, drivers, and processes, which in current context are increasingly dominated by a their constituent industrial capitalist element in a reductionist sense.