Welcome to the second post in our four-part mini-series introducing the INQUIRE© Agile Evaluation tool. The series considers ways in which INQUIRE© helps organisations to look beyond the obvious. By doing this, we can better prepare and respond to whatever is thrown at us. It also enables us to invest where there is a real need.
We previously (Post 1) considered key challenges organisations are facing in terms of the pace and complexity of change, and questioned how well we really understand what’s going on. The post ended with critical questions organisations need to address.
This post considers the use of metaphors as a means to understand organisational dynamics.

Metaphors To Help Shed Light On Organisational Dynamics

If we think of organisations as a fabric or cloth ‘rucked up’ to describe a multi-dimensional existence with many layers and possibilities of braid and thread

  • There are many threads…which ones are more significant?
  • Which threads work in harmony?
  • Where is there conflict of cloth and thread leading to snags, holes and weaknesses?
  • Some parts of the fabric are more obvious (the parts we are looking at), but which parts are hidden from view?
  • Are there folds in the fabric, creating shadows?
  • Is the patterning not quite so uniform when we look more closely?

A further metaphor is to consider the topographic notion of a landscape where one part of the organisation is hidden from the other by organisational hills and valleys (echoing the work of Dave Snowden).
Working alongside these ideas, is the ecology of organisations in the notion championed by David Hurst (The New Ecology of Leadership). The idea relates to simple looking ecosystems being very much more complicated at a micro-level whereby a microscope reveals teaming life, interaction, collaboration and conflict.

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