Change: Discovering the Leader
This paper seeks to prepare a book report for Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within by Robert E. Quinn. The paper will discuss the perceived purpose of the author in writing the books and how he tried to support his claims.
The paper hopes to either confirm or deny what the author tries to impart on the basis of the relevance of the author’s claims to reality and the personal experience of writer of this paper.
The purpose of the author
The purpose of the author (Quinn) in writing the book is to challenge the reader to recognize that everyone is a potential change agent. The author believes that people are capable of deep changes if they willing to take the difficult but essential steps to experience the same. He built his thesis on a strong foundation by first contrasting between deep change and incremental change. He argues that in general, most change that takes place in the life of an individual is incremental due to the fact that people are uncomfortable with major changes. Incremental changes just involved movement in small steps that most people would like to take.
The authors provided possible exception to the choice of incremental change and that this occurs when a person is faced with a major crisis. To explain the author’s position, the case of a person who experienced a heart attack may be used as an example of major crises. It is common knowledge that people would like to survive and would do everything to prevent another attack after the first one. Under this scenario the person who suffered attack would be motivated to make deep lifestyle changes in habits.
These changes could include changes such as stopping smoking and become choosy about dietary requirements. The same major crises may also be observed when a family marriage is on the brink of divorce. Under said situation, marriage partners will be forced to make comprehensive changes in these communicate or handle conflict. But, when there are no major crises in the life of during periodic times many people will agree that people typically make changes in a slow and incremental manner instead of making needed deep change.
The observable fact that was illustrated above on a personal level can also be could also be observed in the life of organizations. The tendency towards small incremental change rather deep change happens because people are normally resistant of change of big changes in their personal lives. It could be argued that such is observation is a natural phenomenon since people in their individual capacities are still the same people when they find themselves in organizations. It could also be argued that leadership needs to be mindful of bringing people along in the midst of change, but in the life of organizations there are really times that organizations need to experience deep change to survive.
This could be observed in the case of joint ventures and mergers. These business combinations are sometime reactions to economic changes in the environment. Managers need to have better returns and they find the expected synergy that would be created from mergers and joint ventures. If companies would stay as they are, there are possibilities that the they have reached their points of stagnancy. This could be observed in the case of cell phone companies.
Sony are Ericsson are separate companies until they see the need to compete with other mobile companies there companies that dominate the market. Seeing the profitability of the industry, Sony and Ericsson combined in a joint venture (Steinbock, 2002) to product to produce Sony Ericsson cell phones. If one analyses however what happened, one could see that the cause was external to the organizations. Without the mergers, the separate companies might be just earning much to sustain operations and before they know it, they would have forgone the great opportunities that they are now enjoying after the merger. In this context, author Quinn is correct in stating that without deep change, habitual patterns may just make organizations to move continuously toward decay and stagnation (Quinn, 1996).
While it may be argued that organizations must react to changes in the environment, there seems to be more wisdom in the belief that organizations must anticipate changes by doing strategies that would help the company make use of is internal strengths to taking advantage of its opportunities. In other words organizations must have its plans for the future implemented by considering what it has internally and not just reacting to external events. The latter makes the company responsible and control of its purposes while in the first the companies by analogy just get swayed by waves of external changes.
The logic of task pursuit
What could be keeping organization to seek their chances for deep changes for growth without the external factors? In answer to this question, Quinn has discussion of the logic of task pursuit. A good number of people, when under pressure for task completion, simply manifest lack of chance to consider routine maintenance. This could be illustrated by the fact that if a person does not take time to experience physical regeneration by resting and exercising, his or her body will experience exhaustion.
This is applicable with the spiritual life of such person. People need to spend some time to detach themselves from the pursuit of tasks to spend time alone. Solitude could generate strength in character. If applied to an organization, it would appear that each person in management needs to set aside time to revisit its company’s mission and to ensure that the work of the company is in alignment with that mission. The failure to set aside the logic of pursuit to visit the company’s mission and vision provided the grounds for Quinn’s observation that organizational change doesn’t take place. He posits that that the leading coalition in an organization is rarely interested in considering deep changes of this logic of task pursuit. He supported his theory by the fact of pressures within most organizations to conform to the prevailing structure (Quinn, 1996).
Based on this, the author could be credited for a wonderful job of identifying the barriers of bureaucratic culture, ingrained conflict, and personal time restrictions. The author is therefore very much meaningful to suggest to management of companies to give time for managers to develop deeper relationships within themselves to prepare to be ready and willing to that deep change. In opting for the need to reflect, it could be argued that in most cases people do not need new skills and competencies. What these people really need is a new perspective that permits them to act as empowered leaders in a changing organization. This new perspective must come from within the personal reflections of the organizational leaders who have renewed their commitment to the company.
There is therefore basis to agree with the author that that personal deep change must come before deep change within a system or organization. He argues while normally if not most of the time organizational change must come from the top as it flows down below, he strongly the author believes that it can also happen to start from the bottom towards the top. In subscribing to the fact that deep change requires a personal evaluation of the ideologies that under bind the organizational culture, the author saw that in the final analysis it is still the people who will make the decision. Thus Quinn believed that as people desire to see change in the lives of others, from many areas like in parenting, marriage or work relationships, these same people must examine first what changes need to happen in themselves. He observed that it is true that people do not easily recognize the part that they play in the problem; this it is really very hard to realize that one is part of the problem (Quinn, 1996). It is easier for people to blame others that to accept the responsibility for the error. If is easier to judge people by looking at the speck in one’s eye than to not one plank in is his or her own eye.
The author believes in deep changes that people experience when under major crisis in their lives. His observation that people normally choose incremental change over deep is very much validated in the lives of people The fact that he also has observed deep changes in cases of major crises among people has helped him to discover that deep changes do happen the same way in organizations in case of external events. Such external events are normally challenges for survival for these organizations.
In explaining the reason why changes could not happen with out the external changes to organizations, the author found the logic of task pursuit with out routine maintenance. In arguing therefore that the organizations need to go back to its mission and vision to redirect its efforts toward the proper direction, the author appears convincing in his position that personal deep change must precede deep change within a system or organization. Based on authors claims and supporting examples this paper humbly confirms the validity of the claims made as discussed in the text.
Quinn, R. (1996) Deep Change: Discovering the leader within, Jossey-Bass
Steinbock, Dan (2002) Wireless Horizon: Strategy and Competition in the Worldwide Mobile Marketplace, AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn