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Change Management

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Change Management ­MGMT625
VU
LESSON #11
A DIALECTICAL APPROACH TO ORGANISATIONAL STRATEGY AND PLANNING
The dialectical approach can be defined in context of organization as: A system may be said dialectical
if it examines a situation completely and logically from two different points of view. The dialectical
approach begins by identifying the prevailing or recommended plan and the data which were used to
derive it.
The question is posed: "under what view of the world this is the optimal plan to follow" In order to test
the assumption underlying this plan a search is initiated to find another plausible and believable
alternative ­ the counter plan. The principle theme is management must learn about the fundamental
assumption of its planning problem and observe the conflict between plan and counter ­ plan, and their
related world-views. Now what happen in real life is that Expert approach to planning is followed
wherein consultants and economist are employed who are too much concerned with cost-benefit and
efficiencies, and by their way technical view promoted. These experts bury assumption of their plan in
trade jargon and statistics. Hence we see that this kind of traditional approach to planning is devoid of
socio-psychological cultural and political implications. Corporate planner also operates on assumptions
but are hidden assumptions in his organisational data and recommended plan, and his method of
presenting can conceal assumptions behind the plan
·
Devils' advocate
In this technique (usually internal consultants) managers play a deliberate role of devil's advocate while
planners present their recommendations like experts. The focus is what is wrong with the plan and why
it should not be accepted? The assumption behind this activity is that truly good plan will survive the
opposition in the form of devil's advocacy. Managers (playing Devil Advocate) does not develop a new
world view rather just criticise massively the plan. The role of managers' behaviour is destructive rather
than constructive. And this may psychologically demoralise planners' and may result in planners psyche
to develop safe plan rather than a progressive one.
·
Dialectical Inquiry
In this exercise each member/participant has unique information, knowledge, experience or perspective
that may be shared via discussion or interaction. The focus in this activity is consensus­seeking;
therefore unlike of Devil's Advocates here consensus building behaviour is important by resolving
decisional-conflict in the group.
Steps in Dialectical inquiry process:
1. A decision making group is divided into two-sub groups, each of which will be involved in
the analysis and solution of the problem at hand.
2. One sub-group develops recommendations and supports them with all key assumptions, facts
and data ­ all of which are provided to other sub-group
3. Now in dialectical inquiry ­ second sub-group develops plausible/alternate assumptions that
negate those of the first, and then uses new assumptions to construct counter-
recommendations.
4. The debate continues until they agree on a set of assumptions ­ and then unite to develop
recommendations
This is different from devil's advocacy as the second group here come up with a formal critique,
expounding flaws as why these recommendations should not be accepted but offers no alternative. In
Devil Advocacy, the first group revises its assumption and recommendations to satisfy valid objections
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Change Management ­MGMT625
VU
of the second group and then presents recommendation for second round of critique. The process
continues until both sub-groups accept the assumption and planning recommendations. Hence the role
of second sub-group differs in each case. Nonetheless what ever type organization proceeds with
dialectical conflict and dialectical inquiry can be used as an effective tool to evolve corporate and
strategic planning
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