September 8, 2002

Dear Professional Consultant

Welcome to "Transorganizational Development " (TD) Network. The TD Network Gameboard gives you a brief overview of sixteen perspectives I have encountered in doing large system multi-organizational development work. We no longer have unitary organizations. Our consulting work is embedded in multi-organizational environments that are Transorganizational.  

The TD Game uses a full screen. At end of letter Click Twice to Close this Letter. In the CHANCE square you can select NORMAL WINDOW size, if you prefer.  The letter will also close automattically after 15 seconds.

Intro - Large system consulting has become a game. And so we must learn the rules of the game. I am calling for a sociology of OD and for cross-disciplinary practice. There have been very few attempts to get at the similarities and differences of the TD approaches. In each approach, I point to similarities, differences, and historical conflicts with other approaches.  

There are two basic approaches to the game. One I call TD1 to represent the kinds of trust and oligarchies that we know from the days of John Rockefeller and Standard Oil. Now we have the kind of off-the-balance-sheet network of partnerships of Enron. The other I call TD2, an advocacy approach centered on more democratic, grass roots, and participative approaches to large system change. 

The Gameboard begins with the community organizing tradition of Saul Alinsky. I add some forgotten traditions such as Storytelling Organizations, Mythmaking, and the more Postmodern approaches. 

 I speak frequently with Merrelyn Emery and worked with Lou Davis when I was at UCLA.  I also work with some people in France doing a related approach called Socio-Economic Approach to Management (SEAM).  I have learned that many TD approaches to large systems change have much in common and important differences in how the world is viewed and what constitutes democratic and ecological ethics.  As editor of Journal of Organizational Change Management (JOCM) this past decade, I have tried to give space for an alternative OD and Change approach based in the critical and postmodern theories. Each year Grace Ann Rosile and I do the Critical Postmodern track of the IABD conference so TD people have a place to gather.  In short, it is time to look at interdisciplinary approaches to TD or deprogram.

I conclude that we all need some deprogramming classes. We have grown up wedded to one TD guru model or another.  We large system consultants spend our time trying to develop disciples and converts, rather than comparing and contrasting our praxis, ontology, and epistemology. Some follow the Emery's participative democracy, others Weisbord Search Conference, or Owens' Open Spaces, many follow Cooperrider's Appreciative Inquiry, the Learning Organization work of Senge, Argyris Action Science, and on it goes.  As I travel the TD Game Board squares writing on and working in many of them, I find I form attachments to one or another. I do not see the big picture, how they each are cults with masters and apprentices, and some with whole Ph.D. training programs and world-renowned workshops to make us believers. I see an "interpenetrating" (term used by Mary Parker Follett) system of many consultants and their gurus from many traditions out messing with the global spectacle of production and consumption. So rather than pit one against the other in some branching tree of TD disciplines, I would like to move to tracing Rhizomatic (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) relations among the twisting and merging roots of the tree. And in practice terms, this means doing interdisciplinary work across TD1, TD2 and middle range positions (see below).

For anyone who wants one, Grace Ann Rosile and I provide workshops on the integration and differences of large system change praxis. We do this most frequently for Pepperdine and Benedictine Ph.D. programs in Organizational Development and Change.