Two years after 9/11 LO30675

Date: 10/08/03

Replying to LO30634 --


I took a little time to digest and reflect on the points raised and
questions asked in your response. I CC'd the list in this response
because I think that these are important topics. There may be some who
are also interested, and there may be others who can contribute to my own
growth and development in this area.

> First, I guess I don't necessarily have a problem with the existence of
> coercion; it seems like a fact of life in today's world. I do have a
> problem with the thought that coercion and the development of an LO go
> hand-in-hand. That is, if I'm setting out to foster or create an LO, I
> think I better leave my coercion toolkit locked up in the closet.


> One of the keys
> for me was understanding and beginning to model what it meant to adhere
> to Argyris' principles for Model II behavior. I could not ethically nor
> pragmatically have gotten there by coercing my department to adopt my
> stance. Had I told them, "We _will_ become a Model II organization"
> (and explained what it meant), it would have been contradictory
> nonsense.

I guess the important thing for me to explain is that I tend to start
(mentally) from the standpoint of a classic Model I organization and
project forward to what will be required to shift to a Model II
organization. Why? Because there are so many Model I's out there that
anyone trying to create a LO is probably going to be dealing with this
type of organization. If the process and theory do not work for Model
I's, then LOs will remain a thing of mystery and rarity.

Model I organizations are entrenched in their ways and that is what makes
working with them so difficult (and potentially rewarding). To generate
that level of trust required to become a Model II organization certainly
requires some dedicated modeling of the appropriate behaviors on the part
of the upper leadership. The Model I behaviors, though, tend to become
self-sustaining within the organization, especially a large and
bureaucratic organization, so that real and lasting change is not only
difficult, but statistically unlikely.

In order to get the Model I to move off of the dime and start changing
into a Model II, SOME coercion (at least subtle) will be necessary to
break the organization out of some of the old behavior patterns. Once this
has been accomplished, little or no coercion may be REQUIRED and continued
change is possible through behavioral modeling and advocacy.

SO, what does this really look like? In practice, this change from Model
I to Model II may require a change in personnel. If someone truly cannot
make that shift, they may have to leave. If this leaving requires help
(they get fired or forced to resign) then the organization has been
coerced in a small (?) way by removing an obstacle to the desired change.

The question that I keep coming back to with all of this is, "What happens
if the organization does not respond to the modeling and advocacy?" Does
the leadership find another organization?

> Furthermore, I guess I actually tried a bit of that as I was just
> starting to learn myself, and the reaction of the people in my
> department changed perceptably when I changed from trying to tell them,
> ever so gently, that they had to become this new way to trying to be
> that way myself and inquiring into their stance on various issues before
> us. That approach I took was far harder than issuing an edict, it was
> scarier (I couldn't commit to my manager that we'd do things the way I
> told him I thought they should be done), and it was far more successful.
> Because of the free and open nature of Model II, I can't promise that
> anyone (including I) can replicate that experience anywhere else; it's
> up to _all_ the people involved, IMO. That also makes it human, real,
> and very rewarding work.
> Put another way, it wasn't until I understood that, how, and why
> coercion in the creation of a Model II organization was not only
> ethically ("in principle") impossible but also pragmatically impossible
> ("it wouldn't work") that I began to understand how one could get there
> at all and what I should be doing minute by minute.

I agree with what you said here in theory. I use the term "in theory"
because it sounds like you were in an organization that was ripe for
becoming (or in the process of becoming)a Model II organization. Once the
journey has begun, I agree that coercion becomes counterproductive. The
difficulty to me is advocating Model II behaviors in a Model I
organization where bottom-line performance is emphasized almost to the
exclusion of all else. This becomes an even more important issue during
the current economic times. Many companies are simply not emotionally
prepared to accept a slip in bottom-line performance that could
signal/trigger a downward turn in their literal fortunes.

If the above is the case (and I am not asserting that it absolutely IS the
case for every company) then LOs become a luxury for the better times.
During worse times the organization will revert back to Model I behaviors,
thus invalidating Model II and LOs as a viable organizational context for
the long term.

> What evidence do you have that a bit of coercion is required in certain
> circumstances?

My own experience building high performing teams and working with
organizations who are seeking to become mode like a Model II organization
within the larger context of a Model I company. I have seen Department
Managers and Section Managers slapped down because their efforts did not
yield the desired level of performance fast enough to suit their
superiors. I have also lead a transition (at least a partial
transformation) from Model I to II and had to endure the criticism and
abuse of peers and constituents who were convinced that I was inept at
least, crazy at worst. We were successful only because I had a boss who
was willing to let me proceed.

> Is it possible that you were mixing the use of coercion and advocacy?

Yes, this is very possible.

> Is it possible that there are non-coercive approaches you
> haven't considered in those circumstances?

I may have been able to succeed without that little bit of coercion that
was required, but it would have taken a somewhat longer time. Since I was
under a time constraint, coercion was necessary in order to get things
moving fast enough. The true entrenchment of those new behaviors required
advocacy and modeling on my part over the long term. This was especially
stressful since I was still part of a larger Model I organization (where
Model II behaviors were seen as weakness) and I had to switch between both
types of behavior, depending upon which portion of the larger organization
I was dealing with at the time.

> Is it possible that you
> would need coercion in those situations to effect a change in people's
> behavior but the change you'd get was inconsistent with being or
> becoming an LO?

This is always possible. I refer back to the above paragraph. Certainly
there was some bleed-over between the two modes of my operation. The
managers with whom I have worked have also experienced a great deal of
stress to perform that can easily contaminate their efforts. Again, the
continued modeling of Model II behaviors is crucial after the change has
taken place.

> You've been raising a larger issue of how one creates a planet-wide LO....
>> SNIP <<
>While a "Pax Americanus" ... might have appeal in the short term, I suspect there's a
> systemic issue that would make it (or any other unilaterally controlled
> state of the world) a short-term phenomenon, only to be followed by a
> possibly rough transition and then perhaps a "Pax
> Somebody-or-other-else." All of the energy required to uphold that Pax
> Americanus might lead to a building frustration elsewhere that would
> eventually overwhelm it.

I agree with this totally. History also supports it overwhelmingly.

I didn't mean to imply that the US or anyone else should step up and
provide the model for the world-wide LO. In order to produce what I
envision, the effort needs to be a collaborative effort among many
leaders. This requires setting aside the parochial interests that
currently hobble the UN's efforts. Since the US, Russia, and others can
unilaterally veto, and thus derail, an initiative in the Security Council,
there is no real incentive for such a cooperative and collaborative effort
on a global scale.

In the model that I put forth (Star Trek), this unity of effort began as
the result of contact with an off-world species. Such an event has not
happened in this world. One would think that the threat of global
annihilation would be enough, but that certainly hasn't been the case.

Clyde Howell



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