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A More Holistic View of Organizational Change

by Deborah Hartmann Preuss on Jun 16, 2006 |
Change upsets people for a number of reasons. Charlie Grantham, co-founder and co-Executive Producer of the Future of Work program, says that fundamentally change does three psychological things:
  • It causes a temporary loss of identity;
  • It changes our social status within our peer group; and
  • It creates a shift in power relationships.
Grantham recently wrote on The Spiritual Dimension of Organizational Change in the FutureOfWork blog.  The author is clear that he's speaking of the spiritual, not the religious dimension, although the two are often confused. Spirituality (in his writing) is about the personal search for answers and understanding, and he proposes that organizational change will only be successful when the human spiritual dimension is acknowledged and dealt with.
We believe one of the major reasons that orchestrating successful organizational change is so difficult is that most practitioners approach the problem from a perspective of psychological acceptance, or, worst yet, rational economic behavior. What's missing is attention to the spiritual dimension of our lives.
He addresses some key topics, starting with identity - for those whose identity is rooted in their work, organizational change can strike deeper than may be commonly acknowledged. He also looks at status in relation to self-worth, and power, which is interesting as this is definitely inherent in the Agile paradigm shift.

What can be done to interject a spiritual dimension, say even a practice, into organizational change activities? Grantham suggests several books and websites to help facilitators think about this. 

Maintaining that all organizational change is really about personal change and growth, Grantham encourages organizations to recognise that change provokes fear, uncertainty, and doubt, and to confront it explicitly, not ignore it or dismiss its importance to people. Rather than provide a one-size-fits-all solutions, the author suggests areas where support may be sought, to help facilitators help others find balance in times of change.

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