4 A Different Approach to Organizations and Change

Cartoon illustration of a human pyramid between two high-rise buildings.


In the last 20 years a new understanding of organizations has been developed, understanding them as living human systems of enterprise and creativity. It offers an alternative to the dominant view of organizations as large and complicated machines of production. The methodologies described in Chapters 69 are all predicated on this new understanding of organizations. They allow the whole of the organizational domain to be approached from the living human system perspective. They allow us to address all organizational challenges, from recruitment to redundancy, within the same living human system frame. And while as methodologies they may be relatively new, they do also build on what went before. For example, Lewin (1951) noted that it was the learning produced by group activities in action research that was the most important outcome of the process. Learning is the basis of behaviour change.

Key Factors that Create Living Human System Learning and Change

1. The importance of learning for behaviour change

Learning means that something shifts in our understanding of the world; and understanding the world differently allows us to engage with it differently. The methodologies introduced in this text all effectively enable the system, that is, the people who make up the organization, to learn about ...

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