Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Spirituality of Intentional CHANGE

Don't Be Afraid To Take Risks
(Proverbs 3:5-7)
There will be times when you will have to step out, on faith, to proceed with the transition without fully understanding how you can take the next step. This will more than likely happen when you engage in your first major building program. Chuck McAlister, "How to transition an established church," Part 3 []

John C. Hillary, in his article "Paradigm Change: More Magic than Logic," which Herescope has been examining the past several days, describes "RISING TO THE LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE--SOME SUGGESTIONS." He proposes that the the "knowledge and skills required to transform" will "transcend scientific rationality."

"To envision, to energize, and to enable changes in the paradigm, mission/purpose, and culture. . . leans more in the direction of the supersensible, the intuitive, the spiritual, the metastrategic -- the magical." [emphasis added]

Hillary's planned second order change and Chuck McAlister's "transition," described on the website (see quote above and yesterday's Herescope), both rely on the added ingredient of spirituality to ease the transition process. McAlister's brand of spirituality is "Christian." Hillary claims that it is easier to orchestrate a "paradigm shift" towards "transformation" if one puts a "spiritual" emphasis on it. Spiritualizing "transformation" in the evangelical world has the intended effect of placing "God's seal of approval" on the entire shenanigans. Who dares to question God's plan?

(Indeed, the entire concept and process of "paradigm shift" is esoteric, and one that was examined in previous Herescope posts.)

Trained leaders are the key to effectiveness in shifting the paradigm to second-order change. Hillary states:

"The leader of second order change. . . must never underestimate the pervasiveness of the existing context -- the status quo. . . . The deep resonance that exists among paradigm, mission/purpose, culture, and core processes will fight for survival. Like progressive resistance exercise, the greater the challenge to 'the way it has always been,' the greater its conservative response. There is no greater threat to the existing order than planned second order change." [emphases added]

Hillary recommends that leaders do four things to "inspire action."

1. "Create a vision that people can sink their teeth into. Vision creates images that become powerful transformative tools for both individuals and organizations. . . . The vision must transcend the prescription of core processes and paint a picture of the transformed culture, mission/purpose, and paradigm. . . ."

2. "Lead as if you are already there -- be symbolic. The vision that is on paper comes to life through the behavior and language of leadership. . . ."

3. "Create a 'community of learners.' . . .Second order change requires them to unlearn . . . 'the way it is' and learn the new way of doing business. Leaders of second order change must become teachers of their organizations. The vision must be the core of the lesson plan."

4. "Bring the organizational subconscious to consciousness. People must be able to examine and critique the existing context in terms of the vision. Proclaim that the behavior of the organization is its culture on display. Take every opportunity to examine the cultural attributes underlying behavior. Creatively expose beliefs, values, and norms that are inconsistent with the vision and create language, metaphors, myths, rituals, and ceremonies that support the vision."

This article by Hillary was published in the Winter 1990-1991 issue of Outcomes, an obscure periodical which nevertheless served an important purpose in facilitating the launch of what later would become known as Outcome-Based Education (OBE), i.e., the "transformation" of education. Sixteen years ago Hillary would write about the inadequacies of standard organizational development theories and technologies. He noted that leaders would find that "there is little tested technology to guide the leadership of second order change" through the process. He said:

"The best one can do is to integrate (1) the best of what is known about rational organization, (2) an intense study of the transformation literature and case study research, and (3) a deep appreciation for sources of insight that transcend rationality, e.g., imagination, inspiration, intuition, mythology, and spirituality. There is much to learn about the nonrational side of organization and the nonrational phenomena that support what is sensible."

Over the past sixteen years, the leadership training experts are still perfecting the manner in which they train "change agents" to facilitate this "transformation." Most of this research and training has come in through the management gurus, who were permitted to gain access and influence over evangelicaldom. Most of these gurus arose out of the New Age movement. They became experts at shifting the paradigm spiritually, in the manner discussed by Hillary, by contextualizing their New Age doctrines to fit the loose parameters of an emerging new evangelicalism. Much of this paradigm-shifting is still done "on faith" -- using "faith" to assist the orchestrated, intentional second-order change.

The Truth:

"Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts." (Psalm 119:134)

Tomorrow: More on "transition". . . .