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Organizational Transformation Articles

As a pioneer in the field of personal and organizational transformation, my work over the past 40+ years has been about creating new narratives that reveal what is possible and what is missing to generate a future that expresses our highest aspirations.

I invite you to engage with the idea in these articles, become a different observer of your world and, in doing so, disclose new possibilities and new choices for yourself and others.

 
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Contextual Management

In many ways, the nature of management is becoming more abstract, and the most successful managers are those who learn how to deal with these abstractions in a way that translates effectively into new organizational concepts offering concrete results. This article, co-authored with Vince DiBianca, was originally published in Management Review in September 1983.

The Emerging Transformational Paradigm

Can any of us afford the arrogance of living as if there is nothing outside our systems of understanding and belief, the knowing of which could transform the quality of our lives and our world?

Navigating An Ocean of Moods

Moods are to humans as water is to a fish. They are a medium in which we live and think.

Leadership in Transition

We need to prepare the next generation of leaders to do more than just fill the shoes of those who will be retiring. We need those who follow to stand on our shoulders. This article, written in 2006, proposes we accelerate the development of next generation leaders by pairing them with seasoned leaders working together on real-world projects.

Being Bold in Times of Emerging Change

Ordinary confidence is not sufficient to overcome extraordinary problems. The crises we face today call for boldness. This 2021 article, co-authored with psychiatrist and brain researcher Dr. Srini Pillay, offers 10 ways to cultivate the kind of "existential confidence" we need to be practicing now.

Unlearning Leadership

The climate emergency. Global inequality. Biodiversity loss. Resolving these and other intractable problems calls for a breakthrough in how we think about leadership. Where to begin?

Homo sapiens ____?

Could homo sapiens as a species choose a different branch in the evolutionary tree? If so, what ‘homo-something-else’ should we become? In this 2021 article, Jim and neuroscientist Dr. Srini Pillay, consider what will be necessary to cultivate in this transition.

Rethinking Commitment to Change

Disappointed with your company’s efforts to change? In this article, originally published in the Journal of Management Inquiry (September 1992), Layton Fisher interviews Jim on what we need to unlearn and what’s missing to have people learn to trust themselves and participate authentically with each other in a world that is inherently uncertain.

Organizational Transformation: Innovations in Theory & Practice

This 1995 paper explains why traditional approaches to change fail in a world disrupted. The transformational approach put forward by Mr. Selman and his co-authors at the DiBianca-Berkman Group offers leaders a proven seven-step process to unleash the human spirit, empower people as new observers and responsible actors, and effectively mobilize their organization as a network of relationships.

The Case for Inclusiveness

This article, originally published in 2000, has fresh connotations in a post-George Floyd world. Diversity alone used to be a laudable goal for organizations. Better now is an inclusive approach in which we focus on results first (for without them, there is no business) and then on including who and what we would normally resist.

Coaches Are Not Managers

Wary about bringing coaching into your organization? Wondering whether it can really make a difference—or whether it is just a new buzzword for management? This 1999 article outlines the fundamental differences between both paradigms, including the ways in which coaching promotes empowerment.

Coaching and Ethics

Contemplating hiring a coach to produce unprecedented results? Studying to become a coach—or aiming for coaching mastery? This 1999 essay articulates 10 “rules” as a code of ethics for creating the context of trust, responsibility and accountability essential to a coaching relationship.

Coaching: Buzzword or Breakthrough?

Much happened in the field of coaching in the decade after Jim’s seminal 1989 article “Coaching and the Art of Management”. In this followup, he demystifies the contextual competencies of a coach and outlines a proven 7-step process for creating a coaching culture in your organization.

Commitment and Change

Intend to change your organization? That will not happen without commitment. This 2006 article points out a paradoxical problem inherent in this setup before diving into a rigorous discussion of what commitment is, its characteristics, and how leaders can create a culture of commitment through their conversations.

Eldering: Late Life Leadership

Concerned that people at work relate to you differently now that you are older? Discover how a new distinction in leadership helps focus people on co-creating the future together. Learn to lead well in later life using  a set of 10 Eldering distinctions and this new way of relating to younger generations in the workplace.

Coaching: Empowering Others in Action

Coaching is a context and a process for delivering results. This piece, originally published in 2007, outlines opportunities and focusing questions for development within a coaching model and process, as well as essential skills and qualities for coaches.

Empowerment

Trying to create an empowering workplace, one that makes diversity and inclusion a business imperative? Learn the 5 conversations and 3 ground rules for effective dialogue that you can use to empower people in this condensed summary of a white paper for Lucent Technologies.

Leadership and Innovation

Do you have to make change happen? This article, published in 2002 in The Innovation Journal, articulates 6 ways of relating to your circumstances and change that can form the foundation of your leadership and either open or close possibilities for innovation.

Leadership and Respect

Looking to embed diversity and inclusion in your organization? Creating a culture of respect will be foundational to its success. This article from 2000 offers a game-changing definition of respect as an action—not a feeling or judgment—that opens the door to granting respect to everyone.

Relationship: Rethinking
the Fundamentals

Why does real, lasting change elude so many organizations? This article, originally published in a 1990 internal corporate publication for Canadian Utilities Limited, offers a non-traditional way for leaders to produce such change in how people work by (re)designing their working relationships, coordinating action in conversation, and exposing unnecessary waste.

What is Competence?

Fourteen distinctions to provoke fresh thinking about competence and the role a coach can play in developing in these areas.

Coaching and the Art of Management

In this breakthrough article, originally published in Organizational Dynamics in 1989, Jim proposes the possibility of a new management culture, based on the intention to empower others within a coaching relationship between the manager and the managed, as an alternative to the traditional command-and-control management culture.

Who is Responsible for Leadership?

In times of disruption, we look to our leaders to guide us into the future. Yet the future will be a product of the actions of everyone. This seminal article from the 1990s powerfully challenges the idea that, in order to have power and make a difference, you have to have position, authority, or control.

Managers Anonymous

Now that you occupy a position of power and influence in your organization, how will you run it? This article, originally published in 1998 in New Management (vol. 6, issue 2), proposes how to break free from the traditional American management principles that damage engagement, productivity, and competitiveness.