Gareth Morgan on Imaginization in Practice LO13317

Joe Katzman (
Sun, 20 Apr 1997 00:51:53 -0400


The purpose of this short interview was to explore the process of
Imaginization within the context of management consulting assignments.
Topics covered include:

* The importance of developing a context within which creative change is
* Techniques for reframing understanding
* People have a natural capacity to practice "imaginization"
* Dealing with resistance to creative thinking
* The importance of identifying actions that translate new thinking into
new practice
* The importance of paying attention to the negative implications or
weaknesses of a metaphor to develop robust actions

This is the first segment. More to follow next week.

J... Joe Katzman
G... Gareth Morgan

J: The first question has to do with the overall structure of consulting
assignments that revolve around Imaginization and Images of Organization.
I know each consulting assignment is different and unique but have you
found in your practice that there are certain stages, or certain phases,
through which a consulting process moves as you do these things.

G: The key to implementing imaginization in practice is to recognize that
the aim is to create a new context in which new things can happen. It
starts with the recognition that there is a need for people and the
organization in question to think and see themselves in a new way. If
you've got that need and people want to explore possibilities - then it's
quite easy to go from there and use creative images and metaphors to
explore issues of concern - such as new modes of organization; fresh
approaches to the management of change; new forms of teamwork, and so on.
The aim is to find new understandings and insights that will open the way
to new actions with high leverage on problems of concern.

J: You're saying there has to be an acknowledged need for change?

G: Yes, otherwise you're not going to go anywhere. But if there are real
issues and problems that are not openly acknowledged, the process of
imaginization can also be used to help create awareness of the issues and
the need for change. In some situations it may be that one key person -
the one that's brought you into the project senses the need of change. But
no one else does! You only need that one. You need someone that is
convinced of the necessity for movement. Once you've got that one you then
adapt your style to the situation you're dealing with and create a broader
awareness of the issues of concern. This means that you have to be able to
identify with their experiences and the problems they are facing so that
people will get on board the process.

J: I guess once you've moved beyond that stage it comes to the point of
exploring various images and of trying to find the one that not only fits
but creates some kind of leverage...

G: Right.

J: Is there more to that phase than just an intuitive process and waiting
until somebody comes up with something that just sort of feels right to
everybody involved?

G: Yes, but it is difficult to describe as a linear method. That's why I
find it best to illustrate imaginization in practice through the medium of
stories. Take, for example, the chapter on Political Football (Chapter 5
of Imaginization). From the moment I get involved with an assignment or
intervention, or whatever you want to call it, I automatically begin to
"read" the situation and the reading becomes more and more detailed as it
goes along. From the very beginning I'm formulating a strategy around what
is going to work.... Is this a situation that needs to start slowly? If
so, I may find a way of helping them to play with some basic insights that
contrasts their organization through, for example, the lens of
"structure," as opposed to "culture" or the "political" metaphor.

Recently I did a very interesting intervention with a marketing team,
using this simple method. Fifteen minute provocations: Think about your
organization as if it's a structure. Describe it to me. Describe it to me
as a culture! As a political system!

The process creates three complementary analyses highlighting the
importance and significance of the different dimensions. It helped them to
create, recreate and change their own perceptions of their situations -
within just forty-five minutes in this case. It created the basis for
further creative exploration using the techniques described in


Joe Katzman <>

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