Drama is regarded as inherent to human action, as a central component of meaning, motivation and what it is to be human. Acting Mindfully about change requires sensitivity to gaps between intention and outcome, to take into account the barriers to change and also to admit its complex character. Improvising means to be aware about the unexpected rather than routinely applying techniques, resembling musicians playing jazz.
As Mangham and Pye , p. Like jazz musicians, managers simultaneously discover targets and aim at them, create and follow rules, and engage in directed activity often by being clearer about which directions are not right than about specified final results. Their activity is controlled but not predetermined. In terms of a strong drama approach, acting Mindfully means being aware of rhetorical and ritual dynamics, sensitive to the expressive characteristics Edgley, of homo performans V. As Edgley , p.
Mobilizing energy, people, and resources to overcome the gap that often occurs between required and given resources for change is seen within the weak drama as akin to the production and direction of stage plays. In contrast, Mobilisation as drama in the strong view is about the character and use of rhetorically and ritually constructed motivations.
It requires an examination of the perspective, power and practices involved in energising participants through understanding and capturing situational vocabularies of motive, and achieving identification with symbolic objects and rituals Alexander, The Mapping of change as a journey is, in terms of the weak view of drama, similar to the planned staging of performances; i. For the strong view of drama, the Mapping of change is, in a fundamental sense, preparing the rhetorical and ritual dimensions of transition ritual. This involves the initial separation of the participants from everyday life and their previous existence, guiding them through the liminal phase, and creating sustainable change by embedding participants within a new structural and cultural frame V.
Turner, This means influencing people in interpersonal situational encounters. In terms of the weak view of drama, this is akin to employing techniques of stagecraft, putting on and taking off costumes and Masks, in order to effect a meaningful impression on an audience Weick, For the strong view of drama, this process is not similar as much to a theatrical performance, as it is, in essence, the enactment of rhetoric and ritual.
It involves the conduct of more or less resonant performances characterised by the fusion or re-fusion of an emotional connection between audiences, actors and text Alexander, Finally, looking in Mirrors, creating and using them to provide useful reflections on managing change, is regarded by the weak view of drama as akin to rehearsing and reviewing a theatrical performance. For the strong view of drama, as Freire puts it, what is involved is the basic social process of having to learn how to write your life, as author and witness of history.
In this sense, institutional change is inevitably dominated by established and emergent rhetorics, and involves liminal spaces in-between more-or-less orderly social environments V. The effective use of Mirrors in the change process is, within the strong view, regarded as part of what McCloskey and Lanham characterise as general rhetorical processes of toggling between looking through a text and looking at it. It also focuses attention on the cultural freedom made possible by liminal spaces to creatively and proactively influence the transition process V.
An introduction to the 5M framework: reframing change management education
This framework is summarized in Table 1. The origin of this 5M framework lies in a twenty-year period of theoretical reflection and action research on the management of change Dawson, During this time, it has informed over change action research projects undertaken by experienced senior managers working in, predominantly, large Australian service companies. To explore the nature and outcome of the 5M framework as a rhetorical vehicle, we will draw on a study based on two deliveries of the Managing Change subject built on the framework.
The course consists of 5 days of 8 hour classes, divided into two weekends.
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Between 20 and 30 students are arranged around tables, in groups of 4 to 5 students, and work together in all the course activities. The 5M Framework is introduced during two weekends using four pedagogical techniques. Firstly, a highly interactive and image-laden set of lectures by the lecturer, using song, pictures, videos, and cartoons embedded in a Keynote presentation. These are presented in a playful and entertaining manner that is, at the same time, disruptive and challenging to thin views of rationality and models of change management education that draw on such a view.
These take up approximately 90 minutes each day. Day 1 introduces the students to the first two Ms of Mindfulness and Mobilising.
Days 2 and 3 introduced them to the third M of Mapping, with Masks and Mirrors delivered on Days 4 and 5 on the second weekend. Secondly, on the second day, a day-long computer based internet simulation takes place, allowing the students to work in their groups to design, and be evaluated on, a successful change program for a fictional case study company GlobalTech.
This simulation is based on a particular version of the reflective three-stage view of change embedded in the Mapping component of the 5M framework. The simulation is introduced and debriefed in the same interactive lecture style as occurred on the other four days. Thirdly, on the fourth day, the exploration of the Masks theme is first conducted through the use of a motivational speech drawn from the movie Braveheart, which is followed up by a Brechtian Verfremdung type use of the video i.
This is undertaken through, initially, the substitution of a female for a male voice in a re-run of the video and, subsequently, the turning off of the sound, leaving the students observing the effect of physical actions, staging and props. This film is followed up by a Boalian Boal, theatrical exercise involving students enacting and re-enacting similar scenes in contrasting motivational and de-motivational skits, and commenting on the lessons to be drawn from their presentations.
This use of drama is, again, introduced and debriefed in the same whole-group interactive lecture style format. Fourthly, throughout each of the days, other than the second day, use is made of a controversial, entertaining and emotive video-case study of change Jamie Oliver's School Dinners as a basis for applying the knowledge acquired from the interactive lecture sessions and the course readings. The case study takes the form of 4 x 60 minute videos, which are delivered towards the end of each day.
The students work in separate groups in applying the concepts of Mindfulness, Mobilising, Maps, Masks and Mirrors to the analysis of the case. They are asked to present their findings in interactive large-group sessions facilitated by the lecturer. The videos are used to provide a dramatic and impactful chaotic, emotive and political illustration of change management, support the playful and creative yet challenging approach to the subject exemplified in the interactive lectures, and provide both a source of entertainment after a long day and a material case study for analysis that takes the students away from their everyday taken-for-granted business experiences.
The Learning Diary is a report by the students on their thoughts, feelings and action-reflections that occurred during the course delivery. The aim of the Learning Diary is to provide them with an active learning process that encourages reflection on the overall lessons of the course, individual learnings and their overall learning-journey. While the internet simulation, dramatic re-enactments and Jamie Oliver case study take the students away from their everyday work experiences, the action project applies the learning back within their immediate work and sometimes personal environment.
The students are strongly encouraged to write up their Learning Diaries, particularly their overall reflection on the course, as well as their Group Reflections as a creative piece of work. They are encouraged to submit their overall interpretations and key themes in the form of images, narratives, music, sculptures, dramatised performances, artwork and games. This has three main purposes: firstly, to provide them with the opportunity to exercise the kind of artistry and creativity necessary to ensure resonant and effective leadership and change performances Alexander, ; Grint, ; secondly, to represent, in the evaluation process, the focus on the below the waterline issues of identity, culture, emotion and politics that the course affirms are central components of organisational change and its management; and, thirdly, to assist students in getting out of their heads , and respond in an emotive, bodily and situated way to the learnings they have obtained and how they might employ them.
In an important sense, the above is a view of the framework and its delivery from the viewpoint of the author and the actor, not the audience. While course evaluations average 4. While it is not possible to separate the effects of the framework from its specific delivery, and the impact of the lecturer, an analysis of the learning diaries does provide an insight into the span of interpretations - ranging from a traditional thin view of rationality and weak view of drama and performance, to thick views of rationality and a strong view of performance.
What follows are perceptions and interpretations drawn from a random selection of 47 learning diaries 20 female, 27 male from two deliveries of the MBA course in a 12 month period. These were mostly middle-managers with work experience, many with an engineering or information technology degree. They are provided here in order to capture the ways in which the framework, and its meaning, were understood and variably interpreted by different members of the class. On the one hand, these comments provide a practical lay interpretation and insight into the meaning of the framework.
On the other hand, they reveal how such a framework may be variably interpreted by different groups, as they are more or less surprised by and open to the more radical thick rationality and strong performance dimensions of the framework. An illustration of such interpretations is provided in the summary of extracted quotes from the learning diaries in Table 2.
Source:Darief, T. Verfremdung in management education: initiating critical reflection Doctoral dissertation. Nearly all of the students expressed some degree of shock and criticism of the open and flexible format of the course, and the lack of focus on the provision of methods and tools for managing change. As one student remarked "I have found it easy and natural to be logical and rational", with many reflecting after the course that, as one other student observed, "There is an emotional journey in managing change, that implies reflection and even some discomfort".
For those more strongly focused on the acquisition of tools and techniques, a key focus was on the acquisition of mapping techniques and an acquired knowledge of the importance of impression management techniques, such as the need for "adapting to a communication style appreciated by the audience rather than displaying the emotions". For many, there was a recognition from thee performances they were required to give, that there is "a lot of work in the group around the content, structuring, props and so on", observing that it became "clear how different body language, tone, confidence, pausing, and expression can impact a discussion.
For many, such insights were more a reinforcement of what they, at least tacitly already know, making comments such as "It confirmed In this sense, the framework achieved resonance less through disruption and shock, and more with confirming and elaborating prior expectations and understandings, while moving students into a thicker view of rationality and a greater recognition of performativity, even though often in a weak form.
For others, however, the effect was seen to be more disruptive. As one student remarked "I have to unfreeze my way of thinking and learn to appreciate this new way of learning". Students adopting either perspectives commented on the importance of moving beyond the view of having a "template to memorise and apply in every single situation", and "to look deeper into the situation and ensure that I have considered as many elements as I can identify". Many affirmed that "the process and the emotions you go through are the same", as you have to mobilize energy, resources and people for a recognisably unpredictable change journey.
The tools of mapping journeys were understood not as a rigid project plan but as a looser set of means for guiding and reflecting on change; i. Further these maps will allow for reflection and a chance to discuss whether there should be a change in direction in the near future". Wearing masks was considered "vitally important" for the delivery of an effective change performance, and the effective use of mirrors regarded as a key to improving that performance, observing that "Taking a good hard look at myself, I can see that I have certain habits that I need to navigate away from or change".
Within the 47 students whose learning diaries were surveyed, the smallest group 10 showed partial progress mainly from a thin to a thick view of rationality and change; the second largest group 13 showed a significant degree of movement from a thin to a thick view, as well as incorporating elements of the weak understanding of change as drama and performance; while the largest group 24 showed evidence of having progressed from thin to thick views of rationality and change, as well as elements of both weak and strong views of change as drama and performance.
These responses to the course cannot be attributed solely to the framework. They do, however, indicate a degree of cultural resonance with the 5M framework amongst experienced mature middle managers. This is revealed in the amount of recognition given to complex and critical views of knowledge and rationality, and the performative nature of organisational life. As captured in Amanda Sinclair's description of Teaching Leadership Critically to MBAs: Experiences from Heaven and Hell, there are substantial risks in trying to teach leadership and change critically to experienced managers.
Initial experiences of anxiety, strangeness and political suspicion can lead to responses ranging from grudging resentment to active resistance and opposition. The 5M framework seeks to address this situation by unfreezing managerialist biases through an appeal to experiences of the pragmatic irrationalities and challenges of managerial life, as well as the implicit, and often explicit, recognition of the centrality of impression management, storytelling and stagecraft.
Rather than focusing on authoritatively educating students on the controversial ethics of leadership, or the objective workings of power, it initiates a dialogue on the personal meaning of organisational life and career in the face of experiences of organisational irrationality and theatricality. The positive response of the students, accompanied by their varying levels of effective translation of the framework, indicates that the 5M approach has the capacity to engage managers in a process that both encourages reflection and provides them with pragmatic assistance in managing change.
A realist form of critical management may question whether such an approach gives sufficient recognition to the centrality of domination and control in managerial life. In narrower terms, however, the 5M framework incorporates issues of power and domination through the focus on the Mobilisation of energy, the Mapping of political forces of change, and the deployment of Masks that can only be made to appear authentic and achieve resonance if they are not perceived as tools of power.
This is achieved through affirmation, care, pragmatism, engagement with potentialities, and a normative orientation". The 5M framework is offered as a practical working example of such an intervention. Further research might follow up on a number of key themes, issues and questions raised by this study. Firstly, it would be desirable to capture and assess the impact of other frameworks deployed to communicate a non-traditional view of change management to practicing managers. It is hoped that this study will stimulate others to undertake a similar kind of assessment.
Secondly, further research is required on the reason for different student responses to such rhetorical frameworks. In this study, no differences were found in the age, gender or demographic character of the different groups, but further exploration of individual personality and professional and institutional location would be highly advantageous. Thirdly, and finally, the framework has employed general criteria of thin and thick rationality, and weak and strong views of drama and performance in organisations, to describe the framework and assess the responses.
Further development and operationalisation of these criteria, and the use of these to further refine the rhetorical framework as well as guide a more structured exploration of its impact, would be extremely valuable. Alexander, J. Cultural pragmatics: social performance between ritual and strategy.
Reshaping Change: A Processual Perspective
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A Processual Perspective, 1st Edition
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This book highlights the theoretical and practical value of using a processual perspective to make sense of organizational change. Featuring data collected over 20 years of fieldwork, it does much more than provide a simple overview of theory and change models and instead makes the processual approach understandable and accessible to both researchers and practitioners. The author's case studies of radical and large-scale change programmes include those from General Motors, Pirelli, Shell, Britax and Laubman and Pank, and considers aspects of processual research, the context, politics, and substance of change and finally the future of the processual perspective.
This is an innovative and highly practical study that captures the truly complex processes of the changing organization and illustrates how best to understand them from a processual point of view. The context of change at Pirelli Cables. The politics of change at General Motors.