From the Editors’ desk. All is change

Hi everyone. I can’t wait for my vacation from this blog!! Not that I don’t love weekly blogging!! When it goes well there is immediate inspiration to articulate something that has been simmering beneath the conscious surface. And that may well be important.
I find myself thinking about change….”all is change” said Heraclitus and the Buddha said something similar a little beforehand too (it is possible that there was knowledge transfer between these very high cultures of northern India and Southern Greece at around 500 BCE –but I do not wish to digress…)
If “all is change” then what possessed Kurt Lewin to suggest a three phase change model that has been very influential in organizational action research and indeed even in organizational conventional research?! His model went something like: unfreeze the system, make the change, refreeze. It still forms the underlying basis of many change management theories models and strategies for managing change. It still informs much action research.
His premise is that the organization (or any system) is frozen in place – hence we seek to unfreeze things just to begin to make change. More rigorous understanding of reality (a la physics) suggests that all systems are, in fact, extraordinarily dynamic. From the microscopic level up, electrons are whirring around at unimaginable rates, configuring themselves over and over…and in apparently the same way as they just were! Who’d have thunk? Isn’t that odd how it all comes together so nicely just the way it was?! Well what if we took scientific insight more seriously as action researchers and allowed ourselves experience that things are, in fact, exactly what they are, namely in profound flux. As such we could imagine how reality can become reconfigured much more easily than we secretly fear. Indeed, a revolution continues to spread across the Middle East, and simultaneously, yes, the Israelis and Palestinians are still at each other’s throats. Both facts are true, change and stubborn stasis. I think about this today as I spent the morning in a faculty meeting and listened to how much all faculty learn from our students about the degree of suffering there is in the workplace. For many our workplaces are simply toxic. This is especially troubling when we consider that the faculty I interact with most spend their time teaching people who work inside healthcare systems. Healthcare systems that make their own employees sick. Hmm.
When I consider that “all is change” then, and I work and teach as an action researcher, I can get in touch with actually how much capacity there is for improving things, after all. “It’s all good” as we say in LA and it could use a lot of improvement. I decide that the insistent reemergence of the status quo comes from fragmentation. There are just too many disconnects among us. However if we can combine our intrinsic capacity for change we’d get, well, change! And that means assuming we can align interests. OK, that is a hard part. But for now at least I have established for myself that acceptance of change as the foundation of how things are means that the spring board from which i invite others to jump with me (toward alignment of interests) is one that is right there -doesn’t need to be created – it is how the universe actually is. Einstein is said to have said that the most important question to ask of someone is whether they think the universe is friendly or indifferent. I experience it as friendly. I believe the universe may actually even support non toxic work situations – ones more pleasing (psychologically and socially) to natural systems – we just have to get aligned. Now that’s where action research comes in!

Hilary Bradbury-Huang,
Editor ARJ
Portlandia, USA.