LARGE GROUP INTERVENTIONS Untitled Document

Whole System Techniques

The shift of perspective toward whole organizations (or whole systems) has enabled the development of tools that engage all stakeholders to create outcomes that are practical and sustainable. It relieves managers of the onerous task of solving scores of complex problems and dealing with resistance. Changes throughout the organization become self-directed and self-motivated. Negative reactions, often triggered by top-down decisionmaking, are minimized. Whole system approaches applied to organizations are often called large or whole group interventions.

A handful of successful methods have been developed for engaging the complex relationships that characterize organizations. These approaches have reached widespread application and maturity during the past decade.

Businesses have been the first to embrace the whole system concept. To remain competitive, businesses need to respond to change in ways that can be implemented quickly throughout an organization and that can be sustained.

A growing number of communities is also using whole system techniques successfully. Whole system approaches have been used in communities as diverse as those in South Africa and Nigeria and among Eskimos in northern Canada. Although process managers sometimes did not speak the language of conference attendees, the processes were effective because the dialog is primarily between participants. Increased use of these approaches will provide new opportunities to community and government organizations.

Stakeholders

A stakeholder is a member of the community who represents a key "voice"— someone who might be affected by or can affect the project being addressed. This includes people who have the power to support the process or stop it, as well as everyone who will be affected by the process. It includes various categories of affiliated and unaffiliated individuals and demographic groups, i.e., all the rich diversity of the system. The system knows who its stakeholders are.

Stakeholder or Representative?

A stakeholder is not a representative. A representative is beholden to a constituency and cannot act alone. Stakeholders are members of a stakeholder group because of their life experiences, not because of any mandate. A stakeholder holds all of the information and experience of the group, without being under the official mandate that binds a representative. A stakeholder can act, create, collaborate, affect others and be affected as an individual. A representative can act only as the group directs.

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