Finding and Including Today’s Best Methods 

We sent out a call for proposals, attracting over 100 methods for our review. We used ten criteria for inclusion. The first eight came from our review of successful, sustained change efforts. Each selected method: 
  • Involves people in a meaningful way, improving individual and collective awareness and connectedness, 
  • Enables people to discover and create shared assumptions about their work processes and ways of working together; fostering the emergence of collective thought and action, 
  • Has been practiced for at least five years to establish a track record, 
  • Is a systemic approach to change, 
  • Achieves dramatic and lasting results with a moderate amount of people’s time and other resources, 
  • Provides support from multiple sources (e.g., books, articles, Web sites, practitioner networks, user conferences, user groups/communities, training programs and materials, etc.), 
  • Has been applied in a variety of environments, cultures, and industries, and 
  • Is grounded in solid theory, and makes strong theoretical and practical contributions to the field of change. 
In addition, when considered in totality, the collection of methods: 
  • Approaches change from a variety of disciplines (e.g., systems thinking/dynamics, quality improvement, organization development, creativity), and 
  • Reflects international and gender diversity. 
While many methods are rooted in organization development, others bring rich traditions from community development, total quality, social science, system dynamics, public participation, the wisdom of indigenous cultures and studies of intelligence, creativity, and the arts. Practitioners from these different disciplines independently embodied the eight criteria in their approaches. The implications for changing organizations and communities are profound, as these practices from different fields have influenced each other and contributed to a rich and growing practice field. 

Numerous methods met our criteria. To make the hard choices among them, two factors played a major role: Was there a vibrant community of practice growing around the approach? Was there an underlying generosity of spirit,a willingness to share?

We felt that a multifaceted support base—books, Web sites, formal or informal practitioner associations, training as well as consulting practices—indicated generous access to critical knowledge and support. In a few cases, though proprietary, if we felt the work contributed something important to the theory and practice of the field and there were at least some tools for self-study, we included it. We also included a handful of processes with less than five years of history because of their promise. There were many hard calls! We hope these selections serve you well. 

What’s Different? 

The new edition contains:

More than Sixty Methods 
Up from 18 in the first edition, this book contains 61 processes. Nineteen are high - lighted with “in-depth”chapters and 42 others have “thumbnails”to whet your appetite. Some practices are well established;others are quite new.All are approaches that we believe further the theory and/or practice ofwhole system change. 

Most of the in-depth chapters were chosen because they are well-established practices with sizable, international communities of practice: Appreciative Inquiry, Dialogue and Deliberation, Open Space Technology, Technology of Participation, World Café, Future Search, Scenario Thinking, Rapid Results, and Six Sigma. We believe that no book on high-participation, systemwide change would be complete without the pioneering work of Whole-Scale Change and foundational methods based in Open Systems Theory:Search Conference and the Participative Design Workshop.While most ofthese approaches have their roots in organization development, we widened our reach to include methods of engaging people from other disciplines.Charrettes originated in the world of architecture and urban planning and Playback Theatre has its roots in the performing arts.We’ve also included in-depth chapters on two of the most frequently used supporting practices for change: Online Environments and Visual Recording and Graphic Facilitation. Finally, we’ve added a bit of spice by offering three “young”methods that we believe are exciting contributions to the field: Collaborative Loops,a design-it-yourselfpractice; Community  Weaving, a highly original approach to change that started life in communities; and Integrated Clarity, an exciting application that integrates Nonviolent Communication into work with organizations and communities. 

The thumbnail chapters are brief overviews that showcase the range of applications available. Some of the processes are longtime practices; others are new, just finding their “legs,”but bringing something original. A few are innovative hybrids of well-established methods that we believe contribute something original. There are creative adaptations of “foundational”practices. For example, Scenario Planning inspired Large Group Scenario Planning.  Appreciative Inquiry is the root of SOAR and the Appreciative Inquiry Summit. Our intent is that the thumbnails provide enough information for you to see what might fit  your situation,and visit online to learn more.