Building High Quality Relationships during Organizational Change: Transcending Differences in a Generative Learning Process
More than two thirds of all change processes in organizations fail to achieve their intended results. This has enormous social and economic consequences. The cause of failure is usually ascribed to the manner in which a diversity of actors with different perspectives co-generate the change process. When people in organizations do things as usual, when they do more of the same, handling differences is often taken for granted, a non-issue. There seems to be enough alignment among a diversity of actors working together for minimizing costs and maximizing profits. However, when people are challenged to change and learn as a collective, because they are confronted with rapid and complex environmental changes and/or they want to improve continuously as a system, the way they handle their differences often becomes very tangible and crucial in bringing about a successful change process. Searching for mutual understanding and appreciation is a more productive path than mutual problematization, blaming and complaining. A successful generative learning process in a manufacturing company is described in which individual differences between actors are transcended by focusing on building high quality learning relationships. The focus is on the concrete relational practices, i.e., task-oriented interactions with relational qualities, that bring about the learning process. Theoretical reflections frame the action research story. The goal is to stimulate new ways of thinking and to evoke new action possibilities about handling differences constructively during episodes of organizational change.
Keywords: Change Process, Generative Learning, High Quality Learning Relationships, Transcending Differences
Dr. Frank Lambrechts
PhD Organizational Change, Applied Economics
Prof. Hilda Martens
Professor, Applied Economics, Hasselt University