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The Nature of Organizations and the Creation of Order. CARDINAL STRITCH UNIVERSITY EDU 575: LEADING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE Dr. Jackson Parker Dr. Robert Davidovich Dr. Kris Hipp. Organizations are About Creating Order. Have you ever taken the time to consider:.

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the nature of organizations and the creation of order

The Nature of Organizations and the Creation of Order



Dr. Jackson Parker

Dr. Robert Davidovich

Dr. Kris Hipp


Organizations are About Creating Order

Have you ever taken the time to consider:

What do I believe about how order in human organizations is formed?

order two choices
Order: Two Choices

Order is inherently not present. Therefore it must be imposed by some outside authority.


Order is implicit.

It emerges naturally through relationships and interactions.


Order is inherently not present.

This view of order is rooted in classic, Newtonian science.

newtonian science
Newtonian Science

Newton’s laws helped create an image of an orderly universe pieced together like cogs in a giant machine.

“It was a world in which chance played no part.”

(Toffler, 1984, p. xiii)

  • The Newtonian paradigm of science is referred to as a mechanistic model.
  • In this model, understanding something requires one to reduce it to its basic parts, with the belief that when the parts are understood, then put back together, one is able to understand the whole, and predict its behavior with certainty.
  • The reductionist approach has worked remarkably well to create understanding for three centuries and is deeply imbedded not only in our science, but also in our culture, as well as our thinking about organizations; our mental model of “the way the world works”.
it works just like clockwork
It Works Just Like Clockwork

Kepler, Descartes, Newton. The clock as the

model of the universe.

Horace Mann and The King of Prussia. (compulsory ed, graded schools, teacher training and certification, national testing, national curriculum, mandatory kindergarten). Why? To sort and indoctrinate!


The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

—Alvin Toffler

roots of our learning
Roots of Our Learning

Command-and-control (supported by Newtonian Science) has been the basis of organization for three hundred years.

The world (from this perspective) would be considered to be governed by linear, mechanical, cause-and-effect relations, with all things being predictable and controllable.

1999, Barab, Cherkes-Julkowski,Swenson, Garrett, Shaw, and Young, Principles of Self-organization: Learning as Participation in Autocatakinetic Systems, The Journal of Learning Sciences

predictable and controllable
Predictable and Controllable
  • We manage by separating things into parts,
  • We believe that influence occurs as a direct result of force exerted from one person to another,
  • We engage in complex planning for a world that we keep expecting to be predictable, and
  • We search continually for better methods of objectively perceiving the world.

Source: Margaret Wheatley Finding Our Way


Creating Order: Old Perspective

Patrick Dolan’s “System in Place”.

command and control
  • Hierarchy and lines of authority are the “load-bearing” structures
  • Those above are supposed to know more than those below
  • Fate of the organization rests on the shoulders of a few key leaders
  • To maximize control, organization is viewed in isolation of environment
command and control paradigm
Command-and-control Paradigm

Good for:

  • Productivity
  • Consistency
  • Procedures, rules and regulations
command and control paradigm13
Command-and-control Paradigm

Strengths; works well with:

  • Straightforward tasks
  • Stable environment
  • Same product time after time
command and control paradigm14
Command-and-control Paradigm


  • Difficulty adapting
  • Bureaucracy
  • Higher dissatisfaction
  • Each of us works in organizations designed from Newtonian images of the universe.
  • We need to stop seeking after the universe of the seventeenth century and begin to explore what has become known to us in the twentieth century.
  • We need to expand our search for the principles of organization to include what is presently known about the universe.

Source: Margaret Wheatley, Finding Our Way

ilya prigogine a very brief history of certainty
Ilya Prigogine: A (Very) Brief History of Certainty

“The Fundamental Laws of Science” … A creation of humans so we could feel more secure in a troubled and untidy world?

If the systems of the world (universe) are evolving, shouldn’t the “laws of science” be evolving too?

Time is real (Newtonian Physics says it is an illusion peculiar to humans), predictability is an illusion.

lisa randall how many dimensions

Three, plus time?

Five, Up, Up, and Away?

10 or 12, but we aren’t built to perceive them?

Think about Flatland; read the book, see the movie.

Edwin Abbott Abbott, 1884


Try the movie

1965, 1982, 2007


Really challenge yourself with the movie

What The Bleep Do We Know?

trend away from command and control
Trend: Away From Command-and-Control
  • Tightly controlled
  • Command-and-control
  • Self-organizing
  • Start-ups
  • Open-source
  • Social networks

Continuum of Organizational Structure

directions of educational change
Directions of Educational Change


  • Hybrid networks and hierarchies
  • Empowered periphery
  • Managing ongoing dilemmas
  • Lightweight, smart, ad hoc infrastructure
  • Custom fit
  • Design with expert users


  • Hierarchical structures
  • Centralized control
  • Solving discrete problems
  • Ubiquitous, monolithic infrastructure
  • One size fits all
  • Design for average users

Source: “Drivers of Change 2006-2016”, Knowledge Works Foundation, Spring 2008


This is different than the kinds of change we have tried to manage in the past …

these changes involve problems with complex dynamics – not linear, direct cause/effect relationships.

peter senge
Peter Senge

“Schools are not ‘broken’ and in need of fixing.

They are a social institution under stress that needs to evolve.”

peter senge24
Peter Senge

What will cause the diverse innovations needed to lead to a coherent overall pattern of deep change?

I believe that the emerging understanding of living systems can guide thinking for the future.

(Schools That Learn, p.52)


Order is implicit.

This view of order is rooted in the understandings developed in the New Sciences

(Quantum Physics, Evolutionary Biology, Chaos Theory, Complexity Theory, Neuroscience, Thermodynamics)


One of the most important impacts of New Science understandings is that systems are:


self organization
  • Purpose and principles commonly shared and articulated
  • Freedom to act within that purpose
  • Information flow
  • Self-referencing (new information and feedback referenced against purpose)
  • Relationships
self organization30

Someone notices something and chooses to be disturbed – referencing that disturbance against why the organization exists.

self organization31

The disturbance created is circulated through the networks of relationships.

self organization32

Meaning is created as the disturbance is referenced against the common purpose. The meaning changes as each individual interacts with it. Eventually the meaning either amplifies or diminishes.

self organization34

If the meaning grows to where the organization cannot ignore it, then adaptive action is possible.

common purpose
Common Purpose

“Purpose and principle, clearly understood and articulated, and commonly shared, are the genetic code of any healthy organization. To the degree that you hold purpose and principles in common among you, you can dispense with command-and-control.”

Dee Hock, founder and former CEO of VISA


Three conditions of self-organizing Organizations:

  • Identity
  • Information
  • Relationships

Identity: The sense-making capacity of the organization

  • In deciding what to do, a system will refer back to its sense of self.
  • Every organizing effort needs to begin by exploring and clarifying the intentions and desires of its members.
  • In a chaotic world, organizational identity needs to be the most stable aspect of the endeavor. Structures and programs come and go, but an organization with a coherent center is able to sustain itself through turbulence because of its clarity about who it is.

Source: Finding Our Way


Information: The medium of the organization

  • Complex, living systems thrive in a zone of exquisitely sensitive information processing, on a constantly changing edge between stability and chaos that has been dubbed “the edge of chaos.” In this dynamic region, new information can enter, but the organization retains its identity. Contradicting most efforts to keep organizations at equilibrium, living systems seem to seek this far-from-equilibrium condition to stay alive.
  • When information is available everywhere, different people see different things. There is a need for many more ears and eyes.
  • It is information – unplanned, uncontrolled, abundant, superfluous – that creates the conditions for the emergence of fast, well-integrated, effective responses.

Source: Finding Our Way


Relationships: The pathways of organization

  • Relationships are the pathway to the intelligence of the organization
  • Organizations held at equilibrium by well-designed organizational charts die. In self-organizing systems, people need access to everyone; they need to be free to reach anywhere in the organization to accomplish work.
  • People need opportunities to “bump up” against others in the system, making the unplanned connections that spawn new ventures or better-integrated responses.

Source: Finding Our Way

self organization40

Good for:

  • Close relationship with customer
  • Value-driven actions
  • Autonomy and entrepreneurship
self organization41


  • Adaptive
  • More open and trusting
  • More productive and satisfied work force
self organization42


  • Tactical leadership more difficult
  • Implementation of tactics; programs, projects, improvement (vs. innovation), can be slower and less uniform.
professional learning communities
Professional Learning Communities

Where does an important form of school improvement fit into this discussion of order?

building learning communities
Building Learning Communities

Shift in Scientific World View:

Old View: Reality is solid, separate, static, objectively measurable.

New View: Reality is emergent, potential, relationships (everything is connected); what you measure, you alter.

Teams are too dysfunctional:

Collective lowered IQ (Group think).

“I’ll tell you what I really think in the parking lot after the meeting.”

building learning communities45
Building Learning Communities

Creative Organization, Creative Communities

-Build bridges between scientific and artistic thinking and communities.

-Fissure or split between art and science is both unscientific and inartistic.

Both science and art are committed to both:

-Vision: Imagining the Dream; to see truths; to grasp the right; to help; to care and love; to understand; to create; to cherish the existence and inevitability of mystery.

-Reality: Unrelenting commitment to see/discover/depict reality as it is.

Peter Senge (last two slides, “Systems Thinking in Action”, 1995)

dimensions of a plc
Dimensions of a PLC
  • Shared and Supportive Leadership
  • Shared Values and Vision
  • Collective Learning and Application
  • Shared Personal Practice
  • Supportive Conditions
    • Relationships
    • Structures

(Hord, 1997)

Shared and Supportive Leadership

Nurturing leadership among staff

Shared power, authority and responsibility

Broad-based decision-making that reflects commitment and accountability

Administrators share power, authority, and decision-making, while promoting and nurturing leadership.

“School Leadership needs to be a broad concept that is separated from person, role, and a discrete set of individual behaviors. It needs to be embedded in the school community as a whole. Such a broadening of the concept of leadership suggests shared responsibility for a shared purpose of community.” --Lambert, 1998, Building Leadership Capacity in Schools
Parallel Leadership in Command & Control

ParallelLeadership assumes equivalence of teacher and administrator leadership in school improvement processes to enhance school capacity.


Strategic Leaders Pedagogical Leaders

Grounded in the values of:

  • Mutual trust
  • Shared directionality
  • Individual expression

--Andrews & Crowther, 2002


Parallel Leadership in a Self –Organizing School

  • Roles not so clearly assigned (i.e., Pedagogical-teachers v. Strategic-principals)
  • More staff positions of the school community involved (i.e., aides, custodians, secretaries, clerks, bus drivers).
  • External community significantly involved (parents, neighborhood, business, advocacy groups, government, etc).
  • Mutually shared values and vision are even more important
Shared Values and Vision

Espoused values and norms

Focus on student learning with high expectations

Shared vision and “lived” values guide teaching and learning

The staff share visions that have an undeviating focus on student learning, and support norms of behavior that guide decisions about teaching and learning.

core values
Core Values …

“A central, bedrock belief deeply understood and shared by every member of the organization. Core values guide the actions of everyone in the organization; they focus its energy and are the anchor point for all its plans.”--Jon Saphier & John D’AuriaHow to Bring Vision to School Improvement

shared vision
Shared Vision

“The organization becomes a living entity, of which each member of the collective body is a guardian, engaged in bringing about the group’s purpose. Building shared understanding of the grand vision is a continuous process of endless dialogue.”---Charlotte Roberts

Collective Learning and Application

Sharing information and dialogue

Collaboration and problem solving

Application of knowledge, skills and strategies

The staff share information and work collaboratively to plan, solve problems, and improve learning opportunities.

Shared Personal Practice

Peer observations to offer knowledge, skills and encouragement

Sharing outcomes of instructional practices and feedback to improve these practices

Analysis of student work and related practices

Peers meet and observe one another to provide feedback on instructional practices, to assist in student learning, and to increase human capacity.

Reform must impact not merely communalcultures, but instructional cultures around teaching and learning where:
  • Change in instructional practices results in measurable improvements in student learning
  • Educational leaders must provide structures, strategies, and support for an exchange of practices

-- Supovitz & Christman, 2003


Supportive Conditions

  • Structures
    • Communication systems
    • Facilities (space)
    • Resources (time, money, materials and people) that enable staff to meet and examine practices and student outcomes
  • Collegial relationships
    • Caring relationships
    • Trust and respect
    • Recognition and celebration
    • Risk-taking
    • Unified effort to embed change to develop norms of inquiry and improvement…a caring culture across the entire system involving all stakeholders
data now what or don t exchange old stupid for new stupid
Data; Now What?OrDon’t Exchange Old Stupid for New Stupid

Don’t use data in stupid ways.

Don’t use research in simple-minded ways.

Do use management data as well as achievement data.

Focus on questions, not data. Use relevant data to help raise, discuss, and answer the questions.

Learn how to ask the right and essential questions.

Not all test scores are worth using. Not all research is good. Get skilled at distinguishing the difference.

Pay attention to your district’s Data Quality, Data Capacity, and Data Culture.

avoiding old stupid to new stupid continued
Avoiding Old Stupid to New Stupid, continued

Learn to distinguish between data that help instructional decisions and those that don’t.

Data are not information, knowledge, or wisdom (the latter three are only possible when data are thoughtfully processed by the human mind).

Learn more about stats, research design, and measurement.

Thoughtful and informed collaboration around what the data mean is more powerful than taking one person’s analysis as the truth.

Review David Bohm on The Incoherence of Thought…we create our own realities, and “the data” are one more creation of human thought and perception.

Being “driven by data” has a psychopathic sound to it.

yet more ways to avoid the old and new stupid
Yet More ways to avoid the Old and New Stupid

Consider cohort data, long term data (what and how are your graduates doing? For elementary, how are your kids doing in middle school; for 6th grade, how are your kids doing in 7th grade, etc.), and data other than achievement test data.

Can students help you gather and analyze data? Why not?

The New Stupid: “If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t matter”

The Old Stupid: “Test scores and data don’t matter, they don’t tell us what’s important, they’ll only be used to stifle creative learning and punish (my) creative teaching…(and I don’t understand all that research gibberish anyway).

For insight on the last two bullets, refer yet again to Bohn and The Incoherence of Thought, in the first Power Point.

more on avoiding old stupid to new stupid
More on avoiding Old Stupid to New Stupid

Everything the previous bullets said about data can also apply to the buzz phrase “research-based best practice”.

Read the entire December 08/January 09 issue of Education Leadership. This slide and the previous three are based on it, especially articles by Frederick Hess, David Ronka, Mary Ann Lachat, Rachel Slaughter, Julie Meltzer, Paul Barton, Richard Coley, Bill Preble, Larry Taylor, Roberta Buhle, Camille L.Z. Blacowicz, Jennifer L. Steele, Kathryn Parker Boudett, Elliot Washor, Karen Arnold, Charles Mojkowski, Mike Schmoker, and James Popham.

Jack Parker once lost a debate with Jim Popham. The debate question? “Resolved, standardized tests and testing should be eliminated from PK-12 education” Jack unwisely agreed to argue the affirmative.


“Signs of health in community rest not in how interconnected and bonded the group feels, but how flexibly and responsively it moves from its existing reality toward the one it desires.” --Gozdz, 2000


What do you believe about how order is formed?

  • What learning, unlearning, and relearning needs to occur within you to be prepared for leading schools into the future?
  • Why do think PLCs have gained momentum as a means of organization in schools?
  • What works against this form of organization in schools?
  • What would you do as a leader to foster PLCs? Why?
professional learning community tools derived from sedl research project
Professional Learning Community ToolsDerived from SEDL Research Project
  • The PLCO is an organizer revealing attitudes and practices from study data that promote or hinder school efforts under each of the five PLC dimensions. Themes lie on a continuum of progress per dimension from initiation to institutionalization (Huffman & Hipp, 2003).
  • The PLCAassesses staff perceptions of schools as PLCs based on the five dimensions and themes found in the study (Olivier, Hipp & Huffman, 2003).
  • The PLCDR is used for school staff to reflect on their school culture and to delineate the progression of specific school level practices that reflect each dimension through each level of change (Hipp, 2003).

Module, pp. 142-148

plco and plcdr both include
PLCO and PLCDR both include:
  • Hord’s 5 Dimensions of a PLC:
    • Shared and supportive leadership
    • Shared values and vision
    • Collective learning and application
    • Shared personal practice
    • Supportive Conditions – Relationships and Structures
  • Fullan’s Phases of Change
    • Initiation
    • Implementation
    • Institutionalization
  • External Relationships and Support
using tools as dialogue starters
Using tools as dialogue starters…
  • Complete the PLCA. Discuss responses to each item (Optional)
  • Complete the PLCDR. Rate your school on each dimension along the continuum.
  • Provide evidence for your ratings.
  • Discuss at tables.
  • Consider these tools and the implications for your SIP goal.
  • How can you engage staff in a related dialogue around your goal?
  • Report your thoughts in the total group.

“My premise is that this culture, and we as members of it, have yielded too easily to what is doable and practical…In the process we have sacrificed the pursuit of what is in our hearts. We find ourselves giving in to our doubts, and settling for what we know how to do, or can learn to do, instead of pursuing what matters most to us and living with the adventure and anxiety that this requires.”--Peter Block, 2002, The Answer to How is Yes


“Ultimately, your leadership in a culture of change will be judged as effective or ineffective not by who you are as a leader but by what leadership you produce in others.”--Fullan, 2003