Facilitating Organizational Change Through Creativity and Ensemble

When a new lens on organizational change comes along, I perk up.  As a mediator and consultant, I know the value of lens; of changing perspective, as a lead-in to problem resolution.     

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ― Albert Einstein

Here’s some new thinking; a very “useful idea” on change.  It’s “change = creating”.  When we see change as being an act of creation, it changes the dynamic.  Instead of, “do we have to (change)?”, we substitute that negative lens to one of, “it would be totally energizing to collaborate with diverse others, and create something new, together.” Yes, and…

A cadre of theatre/performance-influenced organizational development consultants, via the Banff Centre in Alberta, provided the input to this short graphic recording, on their useful idea.  I like it.  (And, hat tip to Australian Viv McWaters, for blogging about this; my source for the video… and to the video creators:  Karen DawsonJulie Huffaker, Ian PrinslooSarah MoyleAndrea Grant and Leonardo Spinedi, and Laila Woozeer).

(video not displaying? click here)

A Useful Idea: Change = Creating

Three characteristics of the change = creating approach include:

1. Intentionally create conditions for creativity to happen, building on the following principles:

  • embrace emergence
  • nourish ensemble (power of the collaborative)
  • design skillful rehearsals and adaptive performance (learn from your experience)
  • tap into source (leverage the experience/talents of your team members)
  • do more than talk (i.e., focus on action)

2. Encouraging ensemble interactions that feature curiosity, attention, and connecting through play.  Make it safe to fail.

3.  Addressing a specific challenge/problem, in your work together as co-creators.   The ‘challenge’ approach is also what drives open innovation facilitators;  e.g., ideaconnection.

Does your organizational unit work as an ensemble?

One of the change = creating principles is ‘ensemble’.  Merriam-Webster defines ensemble as “a group of people or things that make up a complete unit”, and as “a group producing a single effect”.   It sure sounds like people are communicating well, when in ensemble mode.  People are ‘making common’.

Perhaps, an alternative approach to the project team is the project ensemble?

If that’s the case, most every organization would be well served by calling on some theatre and/or improv expertise, to inform that ensemble.

What does the term ‘ensemble’ mean to you and your organization?


  1. Ben, fellow Pacific Northwester: what a clear and mobilizing capture of these ideas. (The next time someone asks me more about change as creating, I’m sending them to you!) Thanks for your sharing, and for your important work.

  2. Thank you kindly, Julie. I owe you and your co-creators, though. Obviously you put a lot of thought in stitching your ‘useful idea’ together… maybe inspired, in part, by our shared Pacific NW locale? 🙂

  3. In my book on new thinking in complexity (200, Springer), I show the power of the ensemble of two human beings in interaction within the ensemble. My theory of this ensemble shows the possibility of mutual shaping forces in interaction, with the potential of bootstrapping each other in small units of subcommunities. The effects may turn to be nonlinear over time. My conclusion is that this is the essence of innovation in organizations. It is about the power of two (see the recent book by Joshua Shenk).

  4. Ton, I agree of course… on the collaborative power of two. I like your reference to “ensemble of two”. Good to know about your work/book and Joshua’s looks interesting, too.

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