Are your solutions able to lift the current situation out of its traps?
Assume your organisation has a problem of apathy and disengagement among its employees. This would not be far-fetched as recent figures from Gallup show that almost 70% of the people of an average company (in the USA) are disengaged or actively disengaged. How would you solve this?
A first-order solution would use the logic of applying the opposite and would probably reinforce and instruct people to increase passion and engagement.
What comes first?
Do we have bureaucratic, hierarchical organisations because people are a “contemptible group of disorganised individuals who work only in order to receive money and who will avoid as much labor as possible” or do we find these types of people in bureaucratic, hierarchical organisations because this is what these type of organisations breeds?
Since it is an example of a wicked problem we need to ask a deeper, “second-order” question.
What solutions have been used in the past?
Second-order change amounts to a change of the rules of the system and leads to a new way of behaving. Viewed from within the current system, second-order change appears paradoxical, strange, and even illogical.
The insomniac is told to make sure to only close his eyes when in a deep sleep. The depressed person is told her situation is indeed truly depressing and without much hope. The person terrified of public speaking is told to begin his speech with the remark that he is extremely nervous and will probably forget his lines…
And, on a completely voluntary basis the workforce of the apathetic and disengaged organisation will be asked for help in turning around the organisation.
Based on the change appreciation phase change design “labs” are run throughout the organisation in a small group structure creating and exchanging solution ideas. These solution ideas - i.e. plans to produce a very specific type of change - need to be able to lift (part of) the current situation out of its wicked problem traps.
The top change challenge(s) are juxtaposed with potential second-order change responses and via an online collaboration and feedback platform these will be further developed, combined, prototyped, simulated, and tested.
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