My Philosophy and Community Development page

(always under construction)

What we ‘see’ can be deceiving......

In the graphic below, do you see the young woman, or do you see the older woman ?

A simple optical illusion, yes; but it does illustrate how our brains work, and illustrates that how we look at things determines what we see. The same is true about politics, religion, race, marriage, relationships, and indeed any part of our lives.

"You can blame people who knock things over in the
dark, or you can begin to light candles.
You’re only at fault if you know about the problem and
choose to do nothing."

- Paul Hawken, The Sun, April 2000.

For over 100 years, the industrial revolution has defined how our organizations have been set up, how we looked at each other in the workplace, how we organized our educational system, our healthcare system, and that outlook has defined how we as world citizens view our world and everyone in it.

Despite our best efforts, problems continue to defy solution, and more complex problems appear as we try to deal with the current ones.

I believe we need to critically examine the largest and yet the least recognized cause of our difficulties; the way we think.

This applies to communities as well as business, government, and non-profit organizations. The premise of organizational development is:

Organizations are social systems in which people are strongly influenced by the organizational culture. Therefore, the most potent tool for improvement is cultural change.

The goal is to increase the long-term health and performance of the organization, while enriching the lives of its stakeholders. Many pay lip service to principles like this, but continue to cut workforces, cheapen their products and/or services, and pay their top manangement excessive and undeserved salaries.

If the United States is to successfully compete in a world market, we need to improve education (not just the infrastructure, even though our schools are falling apart while school board salaries continue to rise), leverage our talent (not merely outsource, a lazy and short-sighted approach), and use our American drive and know-how to do things better.

Some pages I put together with brief outlines of OD ideas:

I won't outline the lives and many works of the following people; that has been done many places (and I have included some of those links at the end of the respective pages).

I will cover some of the ideas they developed, and how their work has contributed to our understanding of social psychology and organizational development. The current (Dec 2006) is just a start; I plant to add more as my studies progress.

I also have included some comments about how their work has contributed to the whole, and the uphill battle that we face against the idea of mechanized organizations, and trying to simplistically apply scientific principles to our organizations.

The first two links outline the works of Kurt Lewin and John Dewey, two of the most influential psychologist/educators in the 20th century. These two men (and many others, of course) have contributed much to our understanding of organizational behavior dynamics, and deserve a prominent place in a study of the subject.

The links following Dewey and Lewin outline and discuss Chris Argyris, G. Edwards Deming, and Peter Senge, whose works have built on Lewin and Dewey.

Taken as a whole, the works of those people outlined here illustrate that the aged Model I approach of the assembly line that our organizationas have embraced and tenaciously held to is no longer working in the face of foreign competition. That much is evident even without the study of these works.

The model that most organizations seem to follow, closely resembles the owner-serf model of the middle ages, where 'educated', wealthy land-owners 'protect' uneducated, poor land-workers who are given the bare minimum to exist while the owners are the major beneficiaries.

Kurt Lewin

John Dewey

Chris Argyris and Action Science

Deming Profound Knowledge

Jay Forrester and System Dynamics

A brief synopsis of Senges Fifth Discipline

Some quotes I have found through my studies:
My quotes page

Favorite OD books:

Action Science: Concepts, Methods, and Skills for Research and Intervention
Chris Argyris, Robert Putnam, Diana McLain Smith
Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 1985

The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization
Peter Senge, Doubleday, New York 1990

There are many sites on the web describing the Fifth Discipline; I have included a few below.
My synopsis of this book is here......

The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook
Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization
Peter M. Senge, Charlotte Roberts, Richard B. Ross, Bryan I. Smith, Art Kleiner
Doubleday, New York 1994

The Deming Management Method
Mary Walton Perigee/Putnam, New York, 1986

Liberation Management Tom Peters, Ballantine Books, New York, 1992

The Black Belt Manager
Robert Pater, Park Street Press, Rochester, VT, 1988.

Links of note:

Peter Senge and the Theory and Practice of the Learning Organization

Fifth Discipline Fieldbook

Review of the Fifth Discipline

System Dynamics and Jay Forrester

High-Performance Systems Inc.

Learning Organizations (Kari Larson)

Action Science

Pegasus Communications, a good site for learning and systemic thinking

Please see the following link to my research paper, written while I was an undergraduate at Northwood University.
Although my Northwood paper is not about OD specifically, it does outline the view that Information Technology has been shown to have limited effectiveness in organizations that do not concurrently change the way the parts of the organization work together.

My research paper done at Northwood University, 1995.

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