The Metaphysics of Change
So, is organizational change management (OCM) a scientific study or an art form? I would say it can be either, but it is best when it is both. As outlined in the PSOCM® process, it should be approached as a thoughtful, liner progression. You move through the 10-steps from problem, to process, to solution. However, at some point it is imperative that it becomes an zigzagging exercise where you stop the process and “think outside the box.” When I was in my architecture phase at the University of Oregon, we were challenged to throw aside conventions and imagine the unimaginable. This was the early 1970s. One of the more annoying aspects of the architecture program was the outdoor classes where it was an accepted norm to smoke pot during class.
One of the more interesting reads that I came across was an oversized, soft cover publication called The Universal Traveler: A Soft-Systems Guide to: Creativity, Problem-Solving, and the Process of Reaching Goals (1974). This was one of the first, innovative approaches to reinventing the wheel. Keep in mind that Bill Gates and Paul Allen created Microsoft in 1975. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple in 1976. It was the birth of “software.” It was a time for new approaches in both organizations and products.
One of my pet peeves has to do with books that make organizational change management a metaphysical process. OCM is not a “New Age” process. It should be a thoughtful, deliberate progression to solve a problem. But there is a time and a place to consider all options when it comes to solutions. When I say “all options,” I mean all feasible and ethical options. There is a fine line where feasibility crosses the ethical limits to alternatives. The Enron scandal is a case study in stretching the legal boundary of ethics. One can find treatises on the question of ethics going back to St. Augustine (5th Century) and Baruch de Spinoza (17th Century).
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.) says that metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between potentiality and actuality. That is the transformational moment of organizational change management. It is when the chosen solution to the problem becomes itself evident. It is the "Eureka!" moment.