Vesa and I spend the entire weekend on conceptualizing our book. The idea was born when we facilitated our second workshop in Helsinki, back in January. Vesa has developed a simple but compelling model for a contemporary, pragmatic approach to change (management? facilitation?). It's the change journey. And on a change journey we are.
We didn't know much more about our book project when we met Friday evening for dinner and some drinks. We know much more now. This is the journey of the last days:
Friday evening, we just brainstormed about what we had in our minds - our dreams, fears, and ideas. The concept was born in a few hours. We agreed that our target group will be middle and project managers, those who suffer most in change processes because they have to implement the change. It will be practical, simple (but not trivial) and will strike a balance between the old dilemma of change management trainers, which is the focus on attitudes (which we think is essential) versus focus on tools (which our clients think is essential). It will be illustrated, straight to the point and have a high level of usability for managers.
Yesterday, after a healthy breakfast with shrimps toast and strong coffee, we left beside all thoughts on the concept and started to talk for hours on our mental models of change. When we went for a late lounge we had agreed on the essence of the background we want to communicate. One aspect which leads us is the thought that management and leadership is under transformation. Organizations are not any more working like Charles Taylor has described them (and even John Kotter who for us belongs to the mechanistic side of Change Management), but organizations aren't living beings or quantum systems either as Magaret Wheatley ("Leadership and the New Science") and many other avantgarde thinkers have made us think.
We are living in a transition stage and middle managers have to understand where they come from and where the world is moving towards. This is part of our mission.
In the evening, we went to an open stage circus where young artists where performing. We were looking for metaphors for our change journey. These were the two metaphors we got:
- the tightrope artist: in change processes we often feel like dancing on a thin rope. There is always the risk of falling. So, we better secure a soft landing and the less confident we are, the more support we must have. A saftey net wouldn't be bad.
- failure of the juggler: the juggling balls might fall down but we can start afresh when the audience is sympathizing with us. Failure is inherent to facilitation of change processes.
Within 6 hours, we had the strategy, the structure and the format of the book. The entire book will be written on a Wiki, and we will open that Wiki up to the public once we have made our first steps on the rope. We will invite you to follow our journey, to comment and even to contribute.
If you are interested: the deadline for the first draft is end July. Ask me again.