Posts Tagged ‘Sullivan Transformation Agents’

Weisbord’s OD History: A Snippet supporting “Whole System”

June 25, 2014

 Getting Everyone Improving the Whole

In the 1980s, inspired by conversations with Eric Trist and Ron Lippitt, (One of  Roland’s main mentors),  I found myself seeking to marry participation to Socio-Technical principles.  A series of projects I reported in Productive Workplaces led me inexorably  toward a scary conclusion.  If we truly wanted to realize values for workplaces in which productivity rested on the bedrock of dignity, meaning and community, we needed to figure out how to get  EVERYBODY IMPROVING WHOLE SYSTEMS.  I noticed that in successful cases there was an attractive goal, a leader with an itch to scratch, and some energized people who had both expertise and commitment.

I also derived  a few “minimum critical specifications”  for effective OD:  get the whole system in the room; focus on the future rather than the problem list; and set things up so that people could do the work themselves, using the skills and experience they already had. If every human deficiency had to be remedied with training before people could implement a new workplace, nobody would ever get a new workplace.

Over time, I came to understand “whole system in the room”  as people with authority, information, resources, expertise in need. When we convene such diverse groups, we effectively redefined a system’s boundaries. That was a giant step beyond diagramming “environmental demands”  on the flipchart ( a technique Roland learned from Beckhard).  People who are each other’s environment shared what they knew. Everyone came to understand the whole in a way that no one person had done a few days earlier. Through this was a structural intervention, paradoxically, many people voluntarily change their behavior.

This  phenomenon,  I believe, is the key to the success of today’s “large group interventions.”  (ABSOLUTELY SAYS; ROLAND) These structures provide opportunities for people to act in new ways.  They tilt the power balance. Then enable fluid coalitions in real-time. Most require no training. They turn “systems thinking”  into an experiential rather than a conceptual activity. They enable everybody to discover for a few hours, or a few days or a few months, how to use what they already have on behalf of a goal larger than themselves.

I put these ideas into practice experimentally for more than 30 years. Every time I ran a workshop, I saw something I had never seen before. Sandra Janoff, my Future Search Network partner for more than two decades,  and many other colleagues ( including yours truly, Roland)  are deeply engaged in this work as I write.  Their collective efforts, and yours, constitute the present for me.



 Techniques to Match to Our Values:

An Idiosyncratic History

Of Organization Development

To be published  2015 by Sullivan, Stavros and Rothwell in Practicing Organization Development: Leading Change and Transformation, Fourth Edition

This essay iterates, paraphrases, and elaborates on themes from Productive Workplaces: Dignity, Meaning and Community in the 21st Century , 3rd Edition (2012).

Postscripts by Roland.

1.  Now that Dr. Argyris is dancing in the heavens, Marvin, in my mind, is the senior living most influential organization development professional today.

2. This is a first in a long series of excerpts from our upcoming Fourth Edition  of  Practicing   Organization Development: Leading Change and Transformation. I do so because Ron Lippitt , who is mentioned by Marvin, above told me personally that one of his predominant values was to “disseminate change knowledge freely”.  For those new to the profession, Dr. Lippitt  wrote the first book ever on organization change in 1957.




Link to Maja Balasi’s You Tube videos including interviews with OD founders In Weisboard, Pareek and Scherer.

August 18, 2013

Link to Maja Balasi’s You Tube videos including interviews with OD founders In Weisbord, Pareek and Scherer.

This is Maja’s new YouTube vestibule  for her gathering of important videos that support her work as a social psychologist and transformation agent.

Not only are classics that give a firsthand account of the history of organization development but also her new videos that she recently edited.  For example, the award-winning presentation of  Sullivan Transformation Agent’s  Woodbury Public Safety testimony to the 39th Asia learning and development conference. Lives are being saved because of our intervention. We know of no other Public Safety Community that shut down to go off site for three days to transform them selves. The neighboring communities provided their emergency coverage. Now Woodbury’s leadership team is consulting the other 12 or so surrounding communities to help engage their people and their community.

More will be coming including one of our most successful large group events with the organization that holds the most advanced commercial computer in the world.

Our Second Edition of Change Champions has been out only one week and is already in the top 50 Organization Change books.

July 27, 2013

Our Second Edition of Change Champions has been out only one week and is already in the top 50 Organization Change books.

Many of the great OD gurus write in it like Schein, Oshry, Katz, Burke, Cooperidder, Koestenbaum ( #1 business philosopher of all time), Weisbord, Owen, Axelrod, Ulrich, Goldsmith, B. Johnson, Rothwell, Balasi, Janoff, Warrick,  Dannemiller team ( Eggers), Kimball and so forth. 

 A highlight for me is Burke’s chapter on his four phases of leading organization Change:

  1. Pre-launch
  2. Launch
  3. Post Launch
  4. Sustainment

 This is his clearest summary ever.  Burke said at a recent presentation that 70% of change efforts fail. Why? In my mind because canned tools are depended on entirely too much. Greater success would occur if Change Agents understood Schein’s process consultation and practiced Burke’s phases. Since he first unveiled the phases at an Academy of Management presentation, I have used his 4 phases as the foundation of my Whole System Transformation Methodology.

It just might be so that Warner Burke has authored more popular Organization Change books and chapters than anyone. I also suggest one read his latest edition of “Organization Change.” Another book that I highly recommend is Weisbord’s latest edition of “Productive Workplaces.” And of course, the new book just out by Schein titled “Humble Inquiry.”



Dubai Podcast with Emma on Whole System Transformation

July 25, 2013

Dubai Podcast with Emma on Whole System Transformation

An overview on how I help an enterprise become dramatically different and more effective.

An Executive Team from Dubai just transformed

One of my great Executive Teams in Dubai just Transformed. They actually look happy.

Roland's arm around Charlie who with Edie and others wrote the first book focused on Feedback

My arm around the guy who started me from National Training Laboratories (once in Bethel Main, USA.)

See a past blog for 4 videos that sum up his life as a Change Agent. His Wife, Edie, joins him. Everyone loved Charlie. He touched so many lives.

Thank you Emma for spreading the truth about Organization Change

Thank you Emma for making the Podcast and spreading the truth about Organization Change

We are living in the most exciting times in the history of the world.

A precis of Talent Management application with OD principles and practices

July 17, 2013
Accelerated Talent Management™ using Whole System Transformation™ Methodology!
CAPix innovative partner
in collaboration with Dr. William J. Rothwell
Presentation for PSTD Foundation Inc, Manila & Cebu, Philipiines at Asian Institute of Management

Align your team with direction!

Many organizations are experiencing the need to improve the number and quality of people they attract, develop and retain so as to meet needs resulting from such issues as pending retirements, explosive business growth, or competitive problems. While talent management is usually associated with a systematic process of attracting, developing and retaining talented people, about 70 percent of all such programs fail within the first 3 years. There are many reasons for failure. Common reasons include:

– Executive leadership not completely involved and aligned around strategic workplace learning,
– Lack of clear and measurable goals,
– Lack of clear roles for different stakeholder groups (such as senior leaders, HR practitioners, operating managers, and workers),
– lack of accountability systems to ensure that each stakeholder group acts according to their expected roles to help the organization achieve its targeted talent goals
– The critical mass not engaged in the understanding and assimilation of strategic direction
– All employees engaged rather than having a program cascaded and imposed upon them

Setting up and sustaining a talent program can be challenging. Many elements must be integrated if a talent management program is to be successful. Organizations need present and future profiles of ideal performers (competency models), performance management systems that are objective and well integrated with measurable organizational productivity goals, objective promotion systems and systematic approaches to build individual and group capacity to meet future organizational needs. Creating these elements can be time-consuming and expensive. Working in large transformative summits reduce the cost and risk of failure. Software solutions alone will not work simply because they provide the means to use the existing content that must be created by the organization and its leaders in ways that are effectively tied to national and organizational culture.

One solution is to first help Executive leadership transform their attitude, behavior and direction for managing and leading the talent of the organization. Secondly we design summits with design teams representing the enterprise as a whole. Thirdly we set up a perpetual talent management journey that sustains itself long-term. Fourthly we focus on helping an internal change agent to continue to facilitate the effort with reduced dependence on external resources.

In sum, the purpose of Accelerated Talent Management™ (ATM) is to execute a systematic approach that builds commitment among decision-makers and workers while also creating the essential elements of an effective talent and succession management system that produces a thriving business.


To follow our dialogue and learnings join the group at Linkedin that Rothwell and I started. It is titled: “Accelerated Talent Management Utilizing Change Management Methodology”



Rothwell with Dr. Perla, a 25 year friend who I gave the Asia OD Network Lifetime achievement award to. She is one of the leading women who has brought OD to Asia. Bill is signing our third edition text book that she uses in the Masters and Ph.D programs at Assumption University. Our next AODN Summit will be at Assumption in Thailand. 

Accelerated Talent Management ™ Utilizing Change Management (OD) Methodology

July 15, 2013

Accelerated Talent Management ™ Utilizing Change Management (OD) Methodology

ATM Manila keynote link: Come to Linkedin and join the new Penn State Group titled: Accelerated Talent Management Utilizing Change Management ( OD ) Methodologies  The link is my keynote this afternoon for the Philippines in a ying yang with my pal Professor Rothwell. 

Ask your questions. Challenge our assumptions. Offer your wisdom at the Linkedin Group. 

My profession has just transformed for the 4th time

July 12, 2013

First Transformation: Mastering small group interventions ( 1978).  Second:  Mastering large group interventions (1990).  Third:  Mastering sustainable whole system change-latest case will be in the Cummings and Worley 10th edition (2013). Fourth:  And now in the last 2 months what I believe will be the final transformation of my career.

“Helping an individual change agent transform themselves in the context of sustainable transformation of the whole system – with no cost – learn and earn.”

Of course, I utilize all I learned from the first 3 transformations.  This can be done with or without the new OD certificate from Penn State’s HRD program- rated number 1 in the USA.

Act. And have a conversation how you can benefit. I know of no one else with such obsessive focus. If you do, introduce me to them. We will learn from each other.

Addendum:  For special learning I integrate two top Professors in their respected areas: Professor Rothwell around Accelerated Talent Management and Professor Koestenbaum around the Leadership Diamond.

So in sum, I help external or interchange agents to change themselves to powerfully change an organization long term. Two specialities are Leadership and Talent Management.

The graphic below is what I do. I shift the grey to the large colored potential. Image