Hybrid work to promote change. When does it work?

My learnings regarding #hybrid work when #promoting, #designing and #facilitating #changeprocesses in bounded structured systems such as companies and/or formal organizations.

These are my observations after having worked with different issues in multiple contexts, like e. g. :

- identifying and addressing production bottlenecks and issues in a shipyard;
- developing a globally coherent sustainability communication strategy in a home furnishing multinational;
- formulating a new story to tell about a conglomerate of ski resorts, that reflects what the company really is, instead of a fabrication of what it wants to be;
- developing a strategy for a machine-tool joint venture in China;
- designing a training for sustainability and resilience researchers, in promoting, designing and facilitating change processes in complex and turbulent environments;

My observations:

I have seen First Order Change – addressing issues without touching the operating rules and principles of the organization – happening in virtual meetings. And I have seen the accorded solutions implemented even when the whole process has been virtual.

I have seen people approaching Second Order Change – doing something significantly different from what has been done before – in #virtualmeetings. What I haven't seen happening in virtual meetings is the shift from working on the "what" to working on the "how", by experimenting with new ways of doing. The shift from doing something different to changing the way of doing things, have I seen only in #facetoface meetings. When that shift hasn't happened, the "significantly different what" lost its potential of becoming a Second Order Change and receded into First Order. "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!"

I have never seen Third Order Change – a deep and significant transformation in the principles that govern and enable the organization to be what it is and do what it does, often called a culture change – happen in virtual meetings.
Third Order Change, when it happened, has come about only when people have worked together in real space-time. It is only in those circumstances that I have seen the emergence of a deep transformation in people, relationships, culture, organization, ... and the organization's way of being and doing in the world.

It is my belief that a specific Third Order Change is needed to "make the difference that makes a difference" regarding our common future, Namely that a critical mass of people work together in real space-time on issues that require First and Second Order change, taking into account at the same time the consequences for self, for each other, for the organization and for the social-ecological field in which they operate.

I haven't seen this happening when working only in #VirtualSpaceTime