There is a key BIG assumption held today that organisations are collections of people and that behaviour (and therefore culture) is a result of peoples’ makeup – their values, personalities, styles, motivations. So HR focuses mainly on addressing these people issues. HR practices are steeped in people and organisational solutions based on these psychological and interpersonal principles. Of course this may be somewhat true, necessary and helpful. But what if this were also a blind spot and a constraint? What if we were so focused here that we were missing key data, information and an understanding of behaviour and organisations which is keeping us stuck?
Joan argues that we could hold another BIG assumption – that organisations are complex adaptive systems and that behaviour emerges from the interactions between individuals and subsystems and the different roles they play in relation to each other. Seeing these networks of roles, relations and rules of engagement and their patterns of interaction (the organisational system) and working with these instead of (or in addition to) the makeup of the individual parts is now essential.
Her thesis is that as complexity increases we need to jump paradigms (or at least include this one). HR practitioners need to become organisational ecologists not just organisational psychologists, people and culture experts. Learning to see, make sense of and intervene in organisations in more systemic and ecological ways is no longer a ‘nice to have’ – in the ever increasing complexity territory it’s imperative and vital for our whole ecology.
In her session Joan will share why this is essential now. What we are missing if we don’t integrate this relational lens AND how liberating it can be if we do!
If you don’t already see yourself as an organisational ecologist or you don’t think you have fully developed this lens and muscle yet, this session invites you with curiosity to step into this role, try on ‘these glasses’, explore some theory, hear stories of its application and have a play with some practices which draw out its distinctions and make is real.