The problem with change

Organisationas and systems are living systems (so purport eminent systems thinkers such as Myron Rogers). This means that they perceive ‘change’ as a threat to self preservation and will do everything they can to resist change, including ‘killing’ the change mechanism or agent.
Learning research is an active intervention that explores the complexities of the human process of change.


Eminent systems thinkers such as Bateson, Maturana & Varela and Myron Rogers suggest that organisations and systems are living systems. A living system is typically resistant to change because anything that is seen as a threat (i.e. change) is a threat to its identity, functions and survival. This means that the living system will do whatever it can to resist change- including ‘killing’ the change mechanism or agent. According to theorists such as Kurt Lewin the resistant forces for change and the fear of learning itself are the greatest obstacles to change. To put it simply; these threats to self preservation get in the way of change. Learning research is an active intervention during the change process. It explores the complexity of the human process of change. It examines the learning of an organisation or system through the thoughts, feelings and experiences of the people within them. It also explores the practices, theories and methodology- and outcomes. And thus assists in the facilitation and acceptance of change through not only identifying positive drivers for change but also by exploring the challenges too. It involves the collection, analysis and report of rich qualitative data that is collected though a combination of observation, direct communication, reflective practice, interviews and ‘focus groups’, as well as research surrounding ‘the system’ itself. It draws on a wide array of approaches, models and tools to makes sense of the resources collected, and thus enable tangible and valuable learning. The data can be presented in a variety of formats, including as a traditional report structure, as a Learning History, or through multimedia presentations such as prezi. Reports are deliberately created to be lively and engaging, representing the voices and stories of all those involved. and are delivered in a style that isn’t exclusive or limiting in audience- it should be easy to access by all, even those outside the programme of change. contact Emma Loftus at ejlresearch The Art of Change Making features over 70 tools, approaches and models of change (including those mentioned above) that today’s ‘enablers’ use in tackling intransigent issues across systems. It is freely available at 

Curated and produced by John Atkinson, Emma Loftus and John Jarvis on behalf of the Systems Leadership Steering Group
The Art of Change Making

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