Category Archives: Members’ contribution

Learning to Change in Italian – By Jean Neumann

We just learned that Jean Neumann’s articles and essays have been compiled in the book Apprendere per Cambiare, published on February 2017.

Congratulations, Jean, for this great work that will help guide Italian leaders, managers and change agents!

Here is an excerpt from  the article written by Francesca Falcone and Antonio Sama about Jean’s book:


This is the first book that collects a series of contributions Jean Neumann has made with her work over the years. This work conceptualises the understanding of the complexity of the organisational change as an interdisciplinary scholarly practice with professional implications for change agents. The book is also the result of applying the Tavistock Institute’s traditions to the Italian Third Sector.

In February 2017 the first Italian edition of a selection of Jean Neumann’s articles was released by Maggioli Editori[1]. The book Apprendere per Cambiare. La ricerca azione per il cambiamento e la consulenza organizzativa[2] is a translation of Jean’s work on two levels. The first, and most obvious, is the translation from English into Italian. The second is less evident and more of a cultural and professional project: the translation of ideas.

The occasion for an initial translation of three of Jean’s articles (Chapters 1, 2 and 5 in this volume) was the idea of translating concepts, theoretical frameworks and professional practice around organisational change for Italian Third Sector organisations. Based on a formal collaboration between the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (TIHR) and C.N.C.A.[3] Jean and Antonio Sama delivered two residential education events in 2009 in Rome and 2013 in Lamezia Terme. The chapters were then translated for educational purpose and circulated only among participants.

The Italian volume contains articles and book chapters that cover almost twenty years of Jean’s publications from “difficult beginnings” in 1994 to the “Lewinian rules” in 2013. Jean’s work continues the long tradition of social sciences applied to understanding and addressing societal and organisational issues. The choice of material to be translated and published follows three strategic lines that can be identified, among others, in Jean’s work. The first is the integration of disciplines (mainly system psychodynamics and organisational sciences) relevant to understanding and supporting the complexity of organisational change projects. The second, logically following on from this focusses on the skills, competencies and abilities any change agent (internal or external) uses when it comes to work with their client systems. The third looks at how change agents (for example organisational consultants) can acquire and develop such skills and competencies as part of, or the core of their professional development.

To read the complete article, please visit the Tavistock Institute website.

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Adam’s Experience of the STS Roundtable

We’re happy to share the link to Adam Redshaw‘s account of the STS Roundtable meeting in San Francisco. Please, click here to read it and recall the great moments and discussions we shared.

Also, if you want to send us your reflections, insights or any other comments, please, contact us!

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New book announcement!

Co-Creating Humane and Innovative Organizations: Evolutions in the Practice Of Socio-technical System Design 

is the multifaceted book edited by our colleagues Bernard Mohr  (USA) and Pierre van Amelsvoort (Netherlands, Belgium).  Thirty authors (academics, union leaders, and practitioners) describe their different lenses on STS-D (Socio-Technical System Design) to shed light on the panoply of past, present, and future thinking and practices that give life to the challenge of “co-creating humane and innovative organizations.” A number of active EUWIN participants contributed to the book.

bookThe book is sponsored by the Global STS-D Network, cofounded by the STS Roundtable (North America) and the Ulbo De Sitter Institute (in the Netherlands and Belgium).

The book is recommended by – among other persons – Edgar H. Schein: “Finally we have an excellent overview of Socio-technical theory and practice, a historically seminal concept that has not nearly received enough attention among managers and organization development practitioners” and by Bill Pasmore “The idea of building organizations that are great for people and productivity began long before Teal and Holocracy became popular….Read this book if you want to know the story behind the story of making organizations that are truly amazing.”


You can see a preview at Amazon website. However, we ask you to please order it at the CreateSpace website for the same price ($ 29.95) as this brings twice as much royalty to fund development of the Global STS-D network.


  1. Waves of Evolution In Socio-technical Systems Design (STS-D)—Bernard J. Mohr and Pierre van Amelsvoort ˑ1
  2. Creating High-Performing Organizations: The North American Open Socio-technical Systems Design Approach—Bernard J. Mohr ˑ16
  3. Open Systems Theory and the Two-Stage Model of Active Adaptation—Donald W. de Guerre ˑ34
  4. North American Design of Nonroutine Work Systems (1980s–1990s)—Douglas Austrom and Carolyn Ordowich ˑ50
  5. Human Talent Mobilization: Improving Both Quality of Working Life and Productivity by Organizational Design in the Lowlands—Pierre van Amelsvoort ˑ73
  6. Organizing Innovation and (Strategic) Decision Making—L. J. Lekkerkerk ˑ99
  7. Socio-technical Systems Design for Coordination of Virtual Teamwork—Bert Painter, Pamela A. Posey, Douglas R. Austrom, Ramkrishnan V. Tenkasi, Betty Barrett, and Betsy Merck ˑ123
  8. STS Designing for a Networked World—Carolyn Ordowich and Doug Austrom ·145
  9. The Employee’s Voice in the Design of Humane and Innovative Work(places)—Kevin Boyle, Wim Sprenger, and Ike Overdiep ˑ167
  10. Democratic Dialogue—Bjorn Gustavsen ˑ186
  11. Workplace Innovation—Frank Pot and Steven Dhondt ˑ201
  12. Purpose and Power in the Evolution of Socio-technical Systems Design—William E. Smith ˑ223
  13. Evolving Socio-technical Perspectives on Human Factors and Safety—Eric-Hans Kramer and Matthijs Moorkamp ˑ241
  14. Resilience-Centered Approaches for Training Design in an Electric Utility—Mohammed Alfayyoumi, Rocky Sease, and Pamela Ey ˑ258
  15. Enid Mumford: The ETHICS Methodology and Its Legacy—Peter Bednar and Christine Welch ˑ274
  16. Applying Enterprise Information Technology from a Socio-technical Perspective —Mark J. G. Govers and Pim Sudmeier ˑ289
  17. Lowlands Socio-technical Design Theory and Lean Production—Jac Christis and Erik Soepenberg ·303
  18. Changing the Nature of Work: Toward Total Workplace Innovation—Geert van Hootegem ˑ326
  19. The Future of STS-D—Bernard J. Mohr and Pierre van Amelsvoort ˑ344

You can see a preview at Amazon website. However, we ask you to please order it at the CreateSpace website for the same price ($ 29.95) as this brings twice as much royalty to fund development of the Global STS-D network.

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Sorry to resend again, this time with a correction.

Testimonial by Ray Dyck

The Leuven Festival was a great opportunity to become aware of and explore new approaches to workplace innovation across  multiple  industry sectors. So many passionate people, new concepts and stimulating discussions in various forums made this a very energizing experience for me. New possibilities for the work I do came into focus.

The launch of GLOWIN was a crowning event, realizing dreams established many years ago. Finally,  having the opportunity to meet up with old friends and make new ones from across the world, connected by our passion – very special indeed.

Many thanks to all of those who had  a hand in organizing the Festival!

P.S. Have you registered for our next webinar on December 10th, 12.00 pm EST?  Don’t miss the chance to discuss how Social Media can be used for Organizational Transformation!

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The Festival of Connecting proved a great opportunity to meet so many people who work in many different ways towards a common goal of making organisations work better, as well as organise work better to enhance multiple value creation for the multitude of stakeholders, including our planet.
Kind Regards,
Hans Lekkerkerk

P.S. Don’t forget to register for our next webinar on December 10th, 12.00 pm


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Reflections on Leuven’s 2015 Festival of Connecting

By Bernard Mohr

On the day after the end of the festival I found myself in Bruges, Belgium with Benedict Monroe from Montreal, Ron Smith from Houston and my soon-to-become-later-on-the-trip-fiancé Karin Wagner (yes, her fathers name is Richard 🙂 . Slaloming  amidst an unexpected mid-september throng of fellow tourists we shared laughter, disappointments and mostly delights about the Festival. This day of shared cultural “gawking” and reminiscing was itself a delicious treat – as is often the case when we take time with friends to make sense of shared experiences.

The “gong” used by various people to call sessions to order was definitely the biggest any of us had ever seen or heard – worthy of inclusion in a Pat Moriarity “karate kid” film ! Highlights of the week for me included the summaries of progress by EUWIN (European Work Innovation Network) presenters as well as the largely symbolic signing of the Manifesto for GLOWIN (Global Organization and Work Innovation Network)… I say symbolic because those of us that signed it did so largely on faith since the text was in such small font as to require a 100 power microscope to read it :-)!

Of course (and I realize this is somewhat self promotional) I cherished the opportunity to distribute the flyer announcing the upcoming publication of “Co-Creating Humane and Innovative Organizations: Evolutions in the Practice of Socio-Technical Systems Design” as the first tangible “product” of the recently formed Global STS-D Network.

Thanks to all who helped and participated – particularly our european hosts !



Would you like to share your experience or pictures? Please, send them to us!

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Change Management

Nina Gregg is sharing with us this interesting journal issue. Some of the content is available free online until 30 November.

Human Relations is pleased to present a virtual special issue on change management

The content below will be free to access until 30 November and the entire virtual issue can be accessed here:


This virtual special issue brings together a range of papers in the journal on the management of change. The particular inspiration is the paper by Cummings et al. (2015), which revisits the famous paper by Lewin (1947), published in the first issue of the journal, and demonstrates that the many popularisations of Lewin around a three-step model miss much of what was in fact said. We accordingly include the original Lewin paper. Two other papers, by Cooke (2007) and by Burnes and Cooke (2012), offer complementary accounts of the history of management ideas. Such analyses in fact represent something of a tradition in the journal. Almost as famous as Lewin is the Coch and French<> paper (1948) on overcoming resistance to change. Two later reassessments (Gardner<>, 1977 and Bartlem and Locke<>, 1981) demonstrate the many errors in Coch and French and show just how the paper needs to be viewed.

The present virtual special issue includes three other papers. We include two by Elliott Jaques (1950, 1953), to illustrate a rather different take on change management from that offered by Lewin, and also to remind readers of the celebrated Glacier Project, from which many important papers were published during the 1950s. Finally, Hendry’s (1996) paper illustrates an arguably much more sophisticated analysis of change than that offered by Lewin, and thus development in a field of inquiry over a 50-year period.

Professor Paul Edwards, FBA
Editor-in-Chief, Human Relations

Frontiers in Group Dynamics: Concept, Method and Reality in Social Science; Social Equilibria and Social Change
Kurt Lewin
Human Relations 1947, Volume 1, Issue 1: 5‒41, doi: 10.1177/001872674700100103.

Studies in the Social Development of an Industrial Community (The Glacier Project):
I. Collaborative Group Methods in a Wage Negotiation Situation; Part One: Case Study
Elliott Jaques
Human Relations August 1950, Volume 3, Issue 3: 223-249, doi: DOI: 10.1177/001872675000300301.

On the Dynamics of Social Structure: A Contribution to the Psycho-Analytical Study of Social Phenomena
Elliott Jaques
Human Relations February 1953, Volume 6, Issue 1: 3-24, doi: 10.1177/001872675300600101.

Understanding and Creating Whole Organizational Change Through Learning Theory
Chris Hendry
Human Relations May 1996, Volume 49, Issue 5: 621-641, doi: 10.1177/001872679604900505.

The management of change has become characterized by an atheoretical pragmatism, overfocused on the political aspects of the change process. Emerging interest in the learning organization provides an occasion to remedy this, by developing a theory of change which is more congruent with the requirement to build learning capacity within organizations. The result should be to place learning theory more centrally within the theory of planned organizational change. This should also reinvigorate action research by defining a wider range of learning technologies and perspectives. The argument is developed by first reviewing theories of learning employed in organizational change. The notion of communities-of-practice is then developed as a core concept to highlight the paradoxical processes of inertia and change centered on groups. A series of examples is then drawn from a recent action research project in order to illustrate the possibilities for applying learning theory. Finally, a research agenda is set out for exploring the role of communities-of-practice, with some preliminary observations from a study of small-medium enterprises.

The Kurt Lewin–Goodwin Watson FBI/CIA files: A 60th anniversary there-and-then of the here-and-now
Bill Cooke
Human Relations March 2007, Volume 60, Issue 3: 435-462, doi: 10.1177/0018726707076686.
FBI files on Kurt Lewin, founder of this journal, and his close colleague Goodwin Watson, reveal inter alia the investigation of Lewin postmortem by the FBI/CIA, and FBI surveillance of Watson while he was a proponent of corporate T-groups, a precursor to present day team development. Sixty years on from Human Relations’ launch, and Lewin’s premature death, the files enrich understandings of Lewin’s, and Watson’s, lives and work. The socio-political structures-in-process they evidence also support the idea of the T-group as a knowing political tactic, apparently emancipatory, yet immunized from (proto-)Cold War inquisition by its very focus on the here-and-now.

Review Article: The past, present and future of organization development: Taking the long view
Bernard Burnes and Bill Cooke
Human Relations November 2012, Volume 65, Issue 11: 1395-1429, doi: 10.1177/0018726712450058.

Organization development has been, and arguably still is, the major approach to organizational change across the Western world, and increasingly globally. Despite this, there appears to be a great deal of confusion as to its origins, nature, purpose and durability. This article reviews the ‘long’ history of organization development from its origins in the work of Kurt Lewin in the late 1930s to its current state and future prospects. It chronicles and analyses the major stages, disjunctures and controversies in its history and allows these to be seen in a wider context. The article closes by arguing that, although organization development remains the dominant approach to organizational change, there are significant issues that it must address if it is to achieve the ambitious and progressive social and organizational aims of its founders.

Unfreezing change as three steps: Rethinking Kurt Lewin’s legacy for change management
Stephen Cummings, Todd Bridgman and Kenneth G Brown
Human Relations, published online before print September 30, 2015, doi: 10.1177/0018726715577707.

Kurt Lewin’s ‘changing as three steps’ (unfreezing → changing → refreezing) is regarded by many as the classic or fundamental approach to managing change. Lewin has been criticized by scholars for over-simplifying the change process and has been defended by others against such charges. However, what has remained unquestioned is the model’s foundational significance. It is sometimes traced (if it is traced at all) to the first article ever published in Human Relations. Based on a comparison of what Lewin wrote about changing as three steps with how this is presented in later works, we argue that he never developed such a model and it took form after his death. We investigate how and why ‘changing as three steps’ came to be understood as the foundation of the fledgling subfield of change management and to influence change theory and practice to this day, and how questioning this supposed foundation can encourage innovation.

We hope you enjoy reading these articles!

Best wishes,

Claire Castle
Managing Editor, Human Relations

OnlineFirst forthcoming articles:
Submission guidance:

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These articles are part of a series of reflections on the Global Network Annual Conference. To view the previous article, click here.

Pecha Kucha was a fun, fast-paced, and to-the-point way of getting to know more about the work conference attendees do and tap into their passions. Presentations covered a wide range of topics, from the plight of farm workers to the organization of health care, from the the inner space of the psyche to considerations about our planet and our species.

Jean-Phillippe’s presentation on the importance of paying attention to emotions in organizational work stood out for me. The slide presentation, originally set to run at 20 seconds a slide as per standard Pecha Kucha form, started stalling one minute in due to technical difficulties. Jean-Phillippe was completely unfazed when this happened, and he very skilfully seized the emergent opportunity to ask the audience, in a slow, deep, inquiring voice, the catch-question of his presentation: ‘How do you feel right now?’. The audience roared with laughter. The snafu ADDED to the presentation tremendously!

Humor aside, there is a deeper learning to be found here. How often do we as practitioners, while in the midst of our work with groups on a given task, take the time to ask ourselves that question and explore the impact of the answer on what we are doing? What would change if we did take the time?

Dena Duijkers,

HSI 2014

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Intra-organization Design

This article is part of a series of reflections on the Global Network Annual Conference. To view the previous article, click here.

For the final panel of the conference — intra-organization design — we were invited to literally roll up our sleeves and do some dirty work. Awaiting us on the opposite side of the room were impeccably set up tables laden with art materials, each one attended to by an art facilitator dressed in a spotless, brand-new apron. The main facilitator attentively read the instructions to the activity from a cue card, then invited us to don our own spotless, brand-new apron, form groups and join one of the art facilitators at a table to await step-by-step instruction. The task was to explore our creativity by creating a group painting starting from a piece of instrumental music; the art facilitators’ role was to assist us in this task, a role they embodied mainly by carefully giving instructions one step at a time, managing access to materials, and more importantly, by giving us tips and techniques to perfect our final product.

As a student of Human Systems Intervention, I caught on to what was going on — at least for myself — very early on. After a few ‘teachable moment’ interventions from the art facilitator to ‘help’ us ‘perfect’  our group painting, I found my self-awareness kicking in; I was irritated, confused, and tempted to withdraw from the process. I felt the tension between the need for freedom to experiment and what I perceived as the restrictive, rigid and invasive presence of the well-intentioned facilitator. Wasn’t our painting good enough? I liked it just as it was, but I went along with each suggested ‘improvement’ although I had no idea what the end goal was.

I took a deep breath and tried to participate without being hindered by my feelings of inadequacy, but truth must be told, my creativity was definitely taxed as I increasingly felt as if I had to reach some unstated, and in my mind unattainable, standard.

During the debrief, my group mates reported having had different reactions to the facilitator’s interventions, some were positive, but most were either negative or ambivalent. Then Jacinthe shared an ‘a-ha’ moment with the group: ‘Is it possible that the people we work with as consultants feel the same way we felt just now?’

It was a glorious moment of self-awareness. STS seeks to involve workers in the design of an organization and its decision-making processes as well as foster continuous improvement and innovation. In participating in various groups, teams and committees, workers are invited to work among experts and other authority figures as equals.  We had just witnessed — rather experienced — the subtle impact of the way we as practitioners embody these underlying principles and values of our field on the people we work with and the overall outcome.

Looking back at the intra-organization session with the distance of time, I only now realize just how much I was unconsciously dragging my past experiences along with me and allowed myself to be triggered by the dissonance I perceived between the rigid structure of the activity (and those spotless aprons!!) and its purported goal of exploring creativity. On some deep level I was reading the message NOT to color outside the lines. But creativity, at least in my mind, is a happily messy process. And that gap affected my participation and ultimately the end results in ways, unfortunately, we will never know. This leaves me with some broad questions: how to integrate complexity theory with STS practice to engage the whole person in the design process? How to effectively flatten out the power differential between authority figures, experts and other members of the organization on both the conscious and unconscious levels?

Dena Duijkers,

HSI 2014

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Inter-organization Design – 4

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This article is part of a series of reflections on the Global Network Annual Conference. To view the previous article, click here.

This session was particularly memorable to me. I was touched by the discussion on Macondo blowout and the oil spill and what can be done to prevent similar tragedies in the future. The increased turbulence of the environment makes it impossible for any one single organization to respond effectively to external challenges. This idea is not new. Emery and Trist (1972) noted that “ these fields are so complex, so richly textured, that it is difficult to see how individual systems can, by their own efforts, successfully adapt to them”. Here is some learning from this session:

  1. Organizations must understand that they are insufficiently equipped individually to provide comprehensive solutions to any existing problems (sensitive responses to the weak signals). Any solution will be incomplete.
  2. The purpose of the collaboration is to provide focus through a collective eye (like the eye of the fly which have the fastest visual responses in the animal kingdom).
  3. The design question is where to place the collective eye. Since the most complete set of data is available where the operation is done, the collective eye should be placed on the drilling rig. This was a real life example how placing the command and control function with the people that do the actual job could have prevented a tragedy.

This session also left me with some broad questions about the design of the governance structure of the STS global network/community/ eco-system. How can we ensure that whatever we design passes the test of time and remains relevant and able to constantly adapt to the changing environment.

Catalina Barbarosie,

HSI 2013

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