Changing Others Through Changing Ourselves: The Transformation of Human Systems by Robert Quinn, Gretchen Spreitzer, and Matthew Brown
So the ACT system or the Advanced Change Theory was the main focus of this journal article, it essentially challenges leaders to have personal change – as this is the only way to truly have system change. Many of the blogs I have written for my OB class this semester talk about how systems at work must change in order for their to be real productivity and innovation -this article addresses the most important aspect of change- changing self. New systems are put in place everyday and fail- because the people who have to negotiate these systems do not change.
The ACT system calls for personal evaluation, personal sacrifice, and the eventual ability to truly focus on the needs of others and the system. There are traditional change strategies per this article page 150, they are: logical arguments for change, using forms of leverage to force change, using win-win strategies. ACT includes these three in some way, but calls for deeper inspection of self and essentially throwing away one’s own self interests to help and inspire others.
The summarized principles of ACT as I read them are below:
1. Learn, adapt, and be open for personal growth always
2. Face hypocrisy not only in others but in ourselves- See yourself for who you really are- look at your actions, choices and the patterns that moved toward those actions and choices.
3. Find your values- keep them at the forefront of your mind and align your behavior with those values and if you deviate work to get back in line.
4. Become an External Deviant- let yourself be guided by those right actions and values- even if the culture around you will reject you- sanction you as an outlier, as wrong. Be able to look yourself in the mirror- be true to yourself- the values you hold true and know that in the work setting this might make life difficult as people are used to people adapting to work cultures that call for team players and people to be guided by the office systems- deviation from this course will raise eyebrows- you may even lose your job.
5. Once you are able to set aside your own self interests, be guided by values you hold true, know your limitations and patterns that take you off course to avoid – now you are to start thinking about the “common good.” This is the stage of possibilities – the stage where the needs of others on micro and macro levels can be explored. New innovations and new systems can be created.
6. These new systems can be introduced as new behavior from the top that is positive and innovative can lead for others to align with the new system- new direction.
7. Always appreciate the work of others, don’t let old patterns of self-interests and self-focus derail your new system. Remember the people making the new system possible have had to make changes as well- they may be emulating you, but it is not about only you- the inner personal and interpersonal work they have done must be valued.
8. A leader that has identified their values, is showing self-reflection and self growth can inspire those around them to do the same – hopefully leading to true innovation, openness, and productivity in the work place.
9. Think outside the box- model that it is okay not to conform. Let people know that they are safe to express themselves and recognize that the lack of sameness- of avoiding and breaking boxes is okay.
10. When you change yourself the hope is that your new paradigm causes shifts in the world around you. Your new behavior leads to positive changes in the relationships you have and in the systems that you create, manage, and foster.
This article used Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King as models for the ACT system- and these historic figures, who set aside many of their self interests for the greater good caused real change and suffered greatly, they were flawed individuals (per this article) and thus they cannot be models of action. All human beings are flawed- it is the ability to look into who we are, identify our values, and patterns and realign when needed that make the ACT system actually possible.
The ACT system in the extreme may lead to personal harm, but in the work environment it may be lead to real positive change and interactions. It is about becoming the best person you can be even if it means deviating from the norms held in high esteem by others. It is about real action and not just espousing.
For myself I think the basic principles listed are things that I would love to say that I have mastered but I don’t and don’t know when I will and though it may take some time to get there – I think the actual process will be beneficial to me as a person and a leader.