Experiential Learning and Practice
Edited by Gavin M. Schwarz, Anthony F. Buono and Susan M. Adams
Chapter 18: Afterword: the change game - moving from toolkits to “That was great!”
In the tradition of providing pragmatic, useful, and realistic organizational change outcomes, this book focuses on improving our understanding of and experience with organizational change through focused, high impact change-related simulations and experiential exercises for teaching, facilitating, and coping with change. If organizational change and transformation involve a combination of understanding, fixing (or unfixing), and practiced behavior, and as part of improvements to the conceptualization, formulation, and implementation of change, then the process of learning from experience is recognized as a means of deeper learning about change. This effect is especially relevant when we acknowledge the scale and significance of just how many organizational change efforts end in failure or are limited in their outcomes (e.g., Beer et al., 1990; Hughes, 2011), suggesting the role that experience can play. Rather than concentrate on explaining change or focusing on how to manage change in this context, however – as illustrated throughout this book – when it comes to organization development and change, emphasis should be placed on the processes of and strategies for learning from active experimentation to increase individual and organizational effectiveness. It is this focus on engaged techniques for improvement and well-being through practice that the exercises in this book address – a focus incorporating “That was great!” outcomes for both participants and facilitator. This emphasis on the value of learning from change and about change through personal experience is an important part of helping organizational members to improve the many factors that bring about organizational effectiveness. It is this key feature of the book – the importance of experience in learning about change – that is our focus: learning by doing. The underlying lesson is fairly straightforward – experience counts. So, understanding how to incorporate participatory learning into change is a basic feature of effective change intervention. Continuing an established tradition, making sure that we fully appreciate and engage with simulation and experience is an intrinsic part of educational efforts to facilitate changing. Having read this far in the book, you are already aware of the essential place and value of using experience to facilitate change. Yet, this aspect of learning is often minimized or overlooked in favor of other features of pedagogy or attempts to change behavior. Moreover, despite the voluminous extent of work dedicated to understanding change and its features through “toolkit” approaches or ways toward sustainable change, we appear to repeatedly and regularly fall back or focus on a direct training approach: “how to” change and manuals describing such development. The value of this book is in asserting, as we do in the introductory chapter to this volume, that this common approach is too restrictive in today’s fastpaced, limited-attention, and constantly changing world. Training people for organizational change in traditional, “mapped out” ways also fails to recognize that today, organizational members living change and university students learning about change look at their learning environment through a different lens, heavily influenced by their experiences. Change is more meaningful when we reflect and incorporate our experiences.
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