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This chapter offers a relationally based organizational development (OD) model for understanding the crisis period that characterizes an organization in transition between…
This chapter offers a relationally based organizational development (OD) model for understanding the crisis period that characterizes an organization in transition between life-cycle stages. In this model, organizations are viewed as holographically comprising relationships at multiple levels—among people, groups, functions, and other organizations in the environment. During transition crises, relations at all of these levels tend to become polarized, threatening the organization, its people, and the mission it serves. By embracing these powerful “creative tensions” through a process we call “relational healing,” stakeholders come to see their organization more holistically as a set of interwoven relationships evolving toward a new life stage of their choosing. Drawing upon OD approaches such as appreciative inquiry and dialogue, relational healing guides the organization to greater integrity via a five-stage “wholing” model: splitting, engagement, appreciation, release, and reintegration. The model is grounded in our research and consulting work with JAZZ, a not-for-profit arts organization that worked through a life-transition crisis over a two-year period. In-depth case stories from this work illustrate the fragmentation and subsequent healing of relationship at multiple levels, leading to a radically transformed and reenergized organization.