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Monday, August 07, 2006

Fundamental Principles About Organizational Change

Jerry Pounds of Management-Issues brings this great article about organizational and motivational change to the forefront.

His premise?

"Most organizational behavior experts, gurus and consultants weave their incantations from the motivational theories of "authorities". If you trace these back to source, you wind up reading B.F. Skinner, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler and Carl Rogers. "

"Alternatively, you can skip the primary theorists and move to their well-known translators - and the darlings of every college management class - Abraham Maslow and Douglas McGregor."

"Apparently, psychology's basic truths are known only by a privileged few – and they're not talking. Meanwhile, the field of applied psychology remains a battlefield where there are no victors but instead an endless conflict of assertion and rebuttal. "

For organizational change, herein lies the fundamental problem:

"If you review the history of any large organization you'll find that such a framework conspicuous by its absence. In its place is an eclectic mishmash of performance improvement programs, motivational initiatives and behavior change practices which are usually based upon mutually exclusive theories about human motivation."

"But don't expect the management gurus to clarify the disparities between these theories. After all, their stock and trade is the creation of entertaining perspectives on management and leadership. Uncertainty and ambiguity is the breeding ground for new books and the fads they produce. "

BOTTOMLINE: To understand organizational change, three simple laws emerge:
  1. Any work behavior (verbal or physical) that works (pays off, is successful, gets us what we want) is repeated.
  2. Any work behavior that avoids a negative experience (criticism, needless effort, appearing dumb, avoids something we don't want) is repeated.
  3. Any work behavior that leads directly to a negative experience (discipline, embarassment, needless effort) is not repeated.

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