Richard Seel’s Writings
Below are some articles which may be of interest to those who
work with or in organisations:
Culture & Complexity: New Insights on Organisational
Conventional approaches to organisational culture and change have been
inadequate, partly because they have been based on outmoded models of organisational
dynamics. A complexity approach can offer a new perspective, or paradigm, which
leads to a radically different kind of practice for change agents.
Describing Culture: From
Diagnosis to Inquiry
For the practitioner who works from a
complex or living systems perspective, describing culture is a key part of the
change process itself. This article outlines a number of ways of facilitating a
rich collaborative inquiry into organisational culture. It also presents a
‘simple rules’ approach to cultural description which offers a new way of
enabling people to articulate their own culture and negotiate to change it.
The culture check list covers some of
the areas which an anthropologist might consider when entering an organisation.
It offers a series of questions to ask and issues to ponder.
Change in Organisations
Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry
A brief guide to the principles and
practice of Appreciative Inquiry, a very effective form of collaborative
Creativity in Organisations: An Emergent
attempt to see how our understanding of the conditions which might facilitate
creativity in organisations can be informed by insights from the study of
emergence. It is illustrated by some reflections and reminiscences about working
in a highly creative organisation: the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Emergence in Organisations
In this article I offer some
reflections on emergence in organisations and suggest ten 'conditions' which
might help to facilitate emergent change. I also outline a process—'emergent
inquiry'—which can be used to help emergent creativity. This
is an expanded and updated version of the 2003
paper of the same name.
& Conversation in Organisations
Here I reflect on the emerging metaphor of
'organisation as conversation' and take a whistle-stop tour of some of the work being
done in this field. This article is quite long (7000 words).
The Nature of Organisational Change
This article offers a simple typology
of different kinds of change. It was developed to help clients understand change
in organisations and explains the specific nature of organisational change as the
most fundamental of these. It also offers some thoughts on the nature of
Towards a Model of
I offer here some preliminary
thoughts on a model of organisational change which has been floating around in
my mind for a while. It
incorporates the notion of a compelling vision (effective organisational story)
with strong boundaries within which self-organising change can occur.
the Soft Edge
The 'Soft Edge' was one of my earlier
attempts to make sense of the reality of living and working in organisations. It
tries to express and explore the realities of the living co-created wholeness
which we experience in organisation.
Anxiety & Incompetence in
the Large Group: A Psychodynamic Perspective
In this paper
(which first appeared in the Journal of Organisational Change Management)
I explore some of the mechanisms which underlie large group dynamics and show
how they can help to illumine some of the destructive processes which may occur
when more than about a dozen people meet together. These
insights will be used to help explain the dynamics of an organisational
event in which a group of experienced consultants were reduced to feelings of
profound incompetence and helplessness.
Ways of Organising
This brief piece was written for a
client to trigger some discussion about different organisational forms and ways
in relating which are being explored today.
Out With the Old
Ageism is common in organisations.
Its effects can be both subtle and devastating. This piece first appeared in The
Complexity & OD
Based on a seminar I ran at South
Bank University, this piece is a little out of date now but still offers a
reasonable introduction to some of the basic concepts of complexity theory and
how they might have some practical application to organisational change and
Complexity Bibliography &
This bibliography originally belonged
to 'Complexity & OD' but it kept getting expanded and deserved a life of its
I've written lots of other
stuff as well, much of it is now
available online. For three years I was a freelance computer journalist writing
(in my spare time) about programming, reviewing
software and running a 'programmer's clinic'. I've also written about parenting—my book
Uncertain Father was published by Gateway Books in 1987.
It is now out of print but an online version is
addition I have edited two collections of papers for
AMED—Virtual & Flexible
Organisations and Tensions & Transitions.