Organizational Consultation: An Appreciative Approach–IV. Change and Stabilization

Organizational Consultation: An Appreciative Approach–IV. Change and Stabilization

When change initiatives are under way, it is recommended to utilize new personnel who are hired with unique skills as change agents. A Manager of Training and Development is hired, for instance, who possesses exceptional group dynamics skills. A new Director of Information Technology is brought in who also has significant organization development experience. Frequently, these skills are forgotten, misunderstood, lost, or devalued if the new change agent is not allowed to use these skills soon after he or she begins to working in the organization. When the change agent first arrives, he or she has a fresh perspective and minimal interpersonal or organizational entanglements. After a short period of time (usually six months to one year) these initial advantages tend to disappear. The change agent becomes a “prophet in his own land,” and thus is often ignored or held in low esteem. If the change agent’s credibility is established early in his or her residency, then he or she is more likely to sustain this credibility after the initial glow has worn off.

Stabilization seems to be particularly appropriate when the organization is in an ambiguous situation with reference to mission, key roles, institutional information or consumer needs. It is often better to do nothing rather than something, if we do not know what the systemic impact of that “something” will be. A change program will rarely clarify or synthesize a confusing or polarized condition. Time might better be spent in the collection of further information, in building consensus regarding a particular organizational goal, or in establishing a firm organizational basis for the program by means of a team building effort. These stabilization processes can, in turn, create the necessary conditions for a subsequent change effort.

Change may be appropriate when an organization has acquired new financial resources for either a short period of time (less than one year) or long period of time (three year or more). When new financial resources are available for a moderate length of time (two to three years), then it is usually more appropriate for an organization to stabilize—that is, improve, legitimate or link together—its current resources than to engage immediately in a planned change effort. After the new financial resources are gone, the organization must sustain its change momentum. This is only possible if the organization has initially stabilized its internal resources so that they might be used for the sustained change effort.


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William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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