Dramaturgical Sociology blows my mind and my views on conventional change mgt

I love this article/chapter! It really does get me thinking about how we approach change today, and how we could be doing it better!

In the attached pdf, Goffman’s “Dramaturgical Sociology” theory is outlined. Goffman uses the metaphor of social life as dramatic ritual to explore social interaction and change. Goffman argues that the self is not an entity that is immutable or separate from its surroundings, but that it arises in the very process of a ‘performance’ – i.e. the self needs context, interplay, and other characters to ‘feed off’ in order to exist! Wow!

Goffman believes that talking about the individual as some sort of autonomous agent is incorrect. Instead, he argues the individual should be thought of always in relationship to a social whole. For Goffman, the fundamental unit of social analysis is not the individual but rather what he refers to as the “team.” He writes, “a teammate is someone whose dramaturgical cooperation is dependent upon in fostering a given definition of the situation”. Teams, then, are responsible for the creation of perceptions of reality in social settings. The crux of his dramaturgical social theory is that the analysis of how teams cooperate to foster particular impressions of reality reveals a complex system of interactions that, in many ways, is like the presentation of a play. If we were to apply this theory in its entirety to existing approaches to business/organisational change, it would radically change the way we undertake change/transformation programs.

To date, I have made one recent attempt at using this theory to define a client’s strategic change objectives and journey by writing a ‘future-paced’ story about the client’s successful transformation. While objectives and a story were created from the approach, more work and detail is required to articulate and embed the ‘play’ into the organisation’s psyche as its anchor for the transformation.  Over the coming weeks I will be seeking to apply the theory in greater detail to support the design of a client’s future state culture and three year ‘blueprint’/roadmap. Keen to hear views.

Great summary on changing behaviour using informal networks to positively “infect” our organisations

Thanks Dr Leandro Herrero! This is great stuff. It reaffirms my own beliefs and pursuit of behavioural change as the key to organisational transformation and success – as long as you don’t try to boil the ocean…  My former mentor/colleague Jon Katzenbach had another great summary which I have amended to reflect my latest thinking:

“focus on changing the few critical behaviours which matter most in key populations to generate momentum for change. Build positive role models and peer pressure that attracts people to becoming part of the new world (and its associated behaviours)”

Please watch this video on Dr Leandro Herrero’s view on Viral Change. It really is a great summary…