Seminar: Embracing Interdependence: Toward a Multi-Level Theory of Coordinated Change with Jody Hoffer Gittell

Friday, May 19th 12pm ET

ProSocial Commons

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Free seminar and Q&A sponsored by the ProSocial Commons

Crises of climate change, hunger, homelessness, violence, hatred for the other, mental illness and hopelessness are intensifying around the world. Many people are looking to authoritarian leaders to solve these challenges by force rather than seeking integrative solutions to them. As interdependence becomes more and more evident, many people appear to be rejecting this interdependence rather than embracing it as a reality and striving to manage it intentionally. Blaming has become far more visible than problem-solving.How can we address the grand challenges that underlie these crises? It has been said that there is no organizational or institutional transformation without personal transformation. We must be the change we wish to see in the world. Our behaviors reverberate throughout a room and far beyond.  The personal transformation that is needed at this time may be to move from fear of our differences to being curious, then embracing and learning from our differences. Through a facilitated process of problem-solving using tools such as relational mapping and conversations of interdependence, we can come to see ourselves as embedded in networks of relationships that can be more productively negotiated than addressed through brute force.Arguably, such fundamental changes require more than personal transformation. We likely need to build organizations and institutions to support integrative relational processes at scale, for example by creating well-structured spaces where people can seek out common ground. There is much knowledge from the organizational and institutional literatures about how to do so, and we can leverage that knowledge.  Based on structuration theory, we may need to practice new ways of relating in order to build the organizations and institutions we need. Is this a hopeless dilemma? I would argue not.  Instead, this is just the usual entrepreneurial bootstrapping process that is needed for creating sustained change.  Change is the disruption of an existing set of patterns. It can be done with or without intention. If we want to engage in sustained change, we must be attentive to the new patterns we are trying to create as well as being attentive to the patterns we are disrupting. In this seminar, we will consider: At which levels is change needed? How are these levels connected? Which theories are helpful to understand each level and how the levels are connected?  Bringing together existing knowledge, how might we create mutually reinforcing interventions at each level for multi-level systems change?

Jody Hoffer Gittell is Professor at Brandeis University's Heller School, Faculty Director of the Relational Coordination Collaborative, and Co-Founder and Board Member of Relational Coordination Analytics. To understand how diverse stakeholders achieve their desired outcomes in coordination with each other, Gittell developed Relational Coordination Theory, proposing that highly interdependent work is most effectively coordinated through relationships of shared goals, shared knowledge, and mutual respect, supported by frequent, timely, accurate, problem-solving communication. The Relational Model of Organizational Change shows how stakeholders can design structural, relational and work process interventions to support more effective coordination of their work. Gittell is currently exploring the relational dynamics of multi-stakeholder change in organizations and ecosystems around the world.Dr. Gittell currently serves as treasurer for Seacoast NAACP, on the board of trustees for Greater Seacoast Community Health, on the editorial board of Academy of Management Review, on the leadership team of the Organization Development and Change Division of the Academy of Management, Academic Fellow at MIT Center for Information Systems Research, chair of the Brandeis University Faculty Senate, and on the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine Committee on Integrating the Human Sciences to Scale Societal Responses to Environmental Change. She received her BA from Reed College, and her PhD from the MIT Sloan School of Management.