Framework for Transformational Thinking

By: James MacGregor   Bart Cunningham  

There seems to be general agreement that the people managing our public and private organizations are increasingly challenged by the rate of change and complexity of the problems they face. Managing change requires changing routines and potentially reinventing oneself as new needs cannot be served with older practices. Can we learn more about how we might more easily transform ourselves, our organizations and society to address the problems we face? The rate of change is underlined by expectations and predictions that future changes will occur at an exponential increase, like Alvin Toffler’s description of future shock in 1970. He offered a prognosis of a future of stress and disorientation of because of changes which are difficult to control are occurring in too short a time, and they will feel like a culture-shock of moving in an entirely different context. The literature on change generally points to many challenges and failures. Given this context, there are strong pressures for transformational change in response to global competition, downsizing, mergers, and acquisitions, the complexity of solving wicked problems, and the growth of new technologies are driving forces that point to the need to explore ways to improve our implementations. Recognizing this need, the purpose of this paper is to develop a framework describing transformational thinking and change which recognizes the possible connections between individual, organizational and societal transformations. Within this purpose, the paper highlights how the context affects how people respond at the individual, organizational, and societal levels.

Managing Change, Transformational Thinking, Complexity
Change Management
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. James MacGregor

Jim MacGregor has taught at the University of Victoria since 1979, and became a full professor at the School of Public Administration in 1992. His primary research interest is in problem solving, and he is a member of an international team that studies insightful problem solving supported by grants from NSERC and SSHRC. He has held visiting appointments with the University of York, University of Loughborough, and Lancaster University, in the UK.

Dr. Bart Cunningham

J. Barton Cunningham Bart Cunningham, a Professor in the School of Public Administration at the University of Victoria, is actively involved in researching workplace issues such as job satisfaction, engagement and stress, in addition to experimental studies of insight problem solving. He has held visiting teaching positions in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, and Austria. He has just published a new book: Strategic Human Resource Management in the Public Arena (Palgrave-MacMillan).