Introducing Rightshifting

Introducing Rightshifting

I recently saw a tweet which read:

“Change is about the interaction of competing narratives, whilst change management aims to impose a dominant narrative on others.”

~ @aptviator

When I saw this I thought “Nooooooo”. Not imposition! I hope I don’t do that. Or rather, I hope people don’t perceive my presentations on the subject of Rightshifting and the Marshall Model as an imposition, or an exercise of dominance. Especially after writing much about nonviolence and nonviolent change.

But then I thought about it a bit more. And saw that maybe the tweet in question has some valuable insights to offer.

Looking back, I can certainly recall management consultants and change agents attempting to impose a dominant narrative on others – and in particular on their client and that client’s people. Generally (with complicity by management) in a coercive and violent fashion.

And I can definitely agreed with the first half of the tweet – that change is about the interaction of competing narratives – and moreover the memes and memeplexes underlying those narratives. With the Core Group’s narrative and memeplex generally winning out – however dysfunctional it might be.

I feel uneasy because I need to believe that folks have the freedom to both construct and to follow their own narratives.

“I’m interested in learning that’s motivated by reverence for life, that’s motivated by a desire to learn skills, to learn new things that help us to better contribute to our own well-being and the well-being of others. And what fills me with great sadness is any learning that I see motivated by coercion.”

~ Marshall Rosenberg

I’ve been making quite a few Rightshifting presentations to groups of people recently, and I’d hate to think I’d been inadvertently giving folks the impression that Rightshifting was the new party line. My position of relative influence – at least, as possibly perceived by my audiences – also compounds the risk that some folks may have thought they had and have little option other than to comply or agree.

So, for any of those folks that may be reading this, and as a reminder to myself to make things more conspicuous in future, here’s the kind of introduction that might make my intent clearer:

“Today I’m going to explain Rightshifting, and the Marshall Model. I find these ideas useful to help explain and understand what I see as the root causes of effectiveness – and Ineffectiveness – in today’s knowledge work organisations, both large and small.

“I’d be delighted to hear if anyone here has any alternative explanations – or even partial explanations – for organisational effectiveness. This would meet my need for dialogue, for meaningful personal connections and for learning new things.

“To the extent that the ideas I’m presenting here today meet your needs in explaining these things, please take, use and share as much or as little of these ideas as you see fit.

“I’d be delighted to hear in the future what aspects of these ideas – if any – you have actually found useful and adopted. And which have proven less than useful, or even downright unhelpful, too.

“And I’d also be entirely delighted if you folks would be willing to contribute further to the evolutions of these ideas, and in tailoring them for best fit in this organisation.”

“We should not expect an application to work in environments for which its assumptions are not valid.” #Goldratt #TPS #Lean #tocot

~ @goldrattbooks

– Bob

Further Reading

Beware Eumemics ~ Blog post
Who Really Matters: The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Success
~ Art Kleiner

1 comment
  1. This is some insightful thinking. I love the type of language you use in your “reintroduction” of Rightshifting, which, by the way, I’d never heard of prior to reading this blog post. Very…. welcoming and engaging. Nicely done.

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