John Gunkler (
Fri, 8 Jan 1999 11:05:51 -0600


I am struck by a relatively simple relationship between what happens as
laminar flow turns into turbulent flow and what happens when I help an
organization go through some radical change -- as radical, say, as the
Transition from Ordinary Organization to Learning Organization (TOOLO.)

As I help prod the change process into beginning, things go quite smoothly
for awhile. And the initial results are quite predictable. However, the
more energy I inject (and help others inject) into the process, the more
successful I am at helping the organization change (so that its culture
actually changes) -- and the more unpredictable the outcomes become and
the more turbulent the course of change. Does this match everyone's
experience with fundamental change in organizations? I suspect that it
does but would love to hear your experiences.

What's ironic about all of this is that, before the project gets
sanctioned by central and middle management, there is a sparring match
that nearly always occurs. They insist on knowing what is going to result
from the change process. This is very understandable from a psychological
viewpoint. In fact, my colleague has given it a name: "The First Law of
Wing Walking" which goes something like -- "Don't let go of the strut
you're holding onto until you have hold of the next strut." That's
exactly what manager want in a change process. And, unfortunately for
their expectations (but fortunately for the process and the
organization!), it' something they just can't have. Because to create a
change process that is predictable enough to reassure the managers is to
create a change process that doesn't do much of anything worthwhile.

Is this another example of entropy production being necessary for
progress? I believe so.


"John Gunkler" <>

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