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Facilitating Organization Change: Lessons from Complexity Science [Paperback]

Edwin E. Olson , Glenda H. Eoyang
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 7, 2001 078795330X 978-0787953300 1
Looking for a highly effective alternative to traditional change models?
Finally, an alternative to traditional change models-the science of complex adaptive systems (CAS). The authors explain how, rather than focusing on the macro "strategioc" level of the organization system, complexity theory suggests that the most powerful change processes occur at the micro level where relationship, interaction and simple rules shape emerging patterns.
* Details how the emerging paradigm of a CAS affects the role of change agents
* Tells how you can build the requisite skills to function in a CAS
* Provides tips for thriving in that new paradigm "Olson and Eoyang do a superb job of using complexity science to develop numerous methods and tools that practitioners can immediately use to make their organizations more effective."
--Kevin Dooley, Professor of Management and Industrial Engineering, Arizona State University

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Editorial Reviews


"The authors offer a comprehensive alternative to traditional change models" (Quality Progress, June 2002)

Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Pfeiffer; 1 edition (February 7, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078795330X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787953300
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #438,653 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars practical book about promising org. change approach October 4, 2001
This is an interesting book about an approach to managing and changing organizations, which is quite different from traditional change approaches: complexity theory. You might think: "Ah, here we go again.... Is this just the next new management hype, destined to be forgotten soon?" I don't think so. I think complexity theory is to be taken a bit more serious than that. What is it? It is a rapidly developing theoretical framework that describes and explains fundamental processes of complex adaptive systems, like organizations. What is a complex adaptive system? The authors of this book, Edwin Olson and Glenda Eoyang, explain that in a complex adaptive system, a multitude of different players (called agents) held together by some cohesive force (called a container) and constantly interacting with each other in all kinds of ways (these interactions are called transforming exchanges).

The self-organizing nature of human interactions in a complex organization leads to surprising effects. Small actions, events and interactions can lead to dramatic outcomes affecting the whole system. Human interactions in complex systems lead to so-called emergent properties, which are features of the system that the separate parts do not have. (For example, brain cells don't have consciousness, but the human brain does). All of this explains why it is often impossible to understand let alone predict or control events and developments. This is a rather big departure from the traditional view, which tends to see organizations as understandable, predictable and ... controllable!

Then how exactly is the complexity theory approach to change management different from the traditional approach?
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Practical Guide to Using Complexity January 17, 2002
This is the best practical guide in existence for using Complexity to transform an organization. The authors give valuable tools and techniques for concrete processes which promote Complexity transformation, along with examples of real business situations where the tools have worked. Especially valuable for those who have a background in organization development. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Vice President May 11, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Very clear and understandable regarding a complex issue. It helps apply the theory of complexity and chaos to the real world.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Universal Framework for OD Work March 21, 2005
I read this book when it was written several years ago. The book has staying power. I find that I have adopted the concepts from complexity science as a framework for my organization development work. I think in terms of the simple, yet powerful, metaphor of breadmaking when consulting and facilitating.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A little bit of complexity Change February 6, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book explore the ways and difficulties about change organization in a systemic perspective. It's very incisive and gabe some tools and advices too.
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