Pragmatic Pluralism


The world in pluralistic, FACT!

Diverse viewpoints held by diverse stakeholders, all of which are or can be important, should be acknowledged and respected and all of which demand the attention of those who organise activities. This is pluralism.

So you’ve been asked or tasked with making a change in your organisation, or perhaps you’re the person who is the organisation owner and you want to make a change, what you gonna do about it I ask? You gonna force through your own ideas to the exclusion of all others?

No of course you won’t. At the very least you’ll consult with respected suppliers and customers and perhaps even fellow employees but maybe not all of them. So you will be very tempted to overlook some, those you see or think as not supporting your general idea, those you see as representing an obstacle to progress and change.

Right, so you’re going to miss some valuable contribution, you will be running the risk of being mediocre in results. That’s your risk to run but run it you will. Is that honestly what you want? Don’t you really want the very best outcome? Yes of course you do, who wouldn’t right? Will you if you don’t actually pay attention to all the important contributions?


No, actually you need a system, a way of thinking and doing that brings you to the right conclusions.


You need a space and time for open discussion, selecting those who are going to participate, respecting all contributions, enabling and facilitating diversity of contribution too. The aim here is to understand the forces at play, get a deep understanding of the range of options open to you, and provide a basis for structured consideration whilst getting the ground ready for those options that are going to be rejected early on.


You are going to debate the chosen range of options. Debate really means something a bit more forceful. It means explicit negotiation on the basis of benefits and features of changes being proposed. This is where preferences will be made clear and options either included or excluded. At this stage of any change process is where ways of doing things is trailed, where research takes place on the options and options are then compared.


Decision time. Make your mind-up and go for it. Action needed. You’ve closed down all the options to one, the best one you would like to think. Do it, and do it now.


Reflection. Right so you make the change, it’s going okay, or maybe it isnt. At this stage of the change you really should reflect on what you’ve done and who has contributed to the end result.

When making changes your attention should be focused on being critical. You do this by encouraging the widest possible range of viewpoint’s and values to be heard and making sure that those potentially being suppressed are actually brought out into the open. You will also have to recognise that consensus may in fact not be possible and that you might have to go with a general consent.

But most importantly you will have to accept that the only ‘truth’ is that which is relevant to the circumstances of the moment.

Pluralism as you can see I hope is about a ‘mix and match’ of methods and going with what feels to be good at the time.

Remember, when making organisational change that on the whole what you’re doing is modifying that which is already present. You’ll use a mix of methods with emphasis on certain methodologies at different times of the change process. You will have to be adaptive in different circumstances. You may even, if you have the luxury of time be able to try out different methods of making the change happen and then pick the best one.

Once you’ve accepted the importance and need for others to contribute to your change project you’ll very quickly learn that contributions will have to take account of verbal traditions, there will always be those historical stories that inform the under tow of the organisation. You will also end up making use of visual representations to get the point over.

As a person you will have to show flexibility through being able to be adaptive to the dynamics of a situation. You will have to challenge and intervene when appropriate. You must show a real sense of purpose. And when you do this you will have to be fair and ethical.

At FINNA we call this approach Pragmatic Pluralism.

This approach does not mean ‘anything goes’, it does mean that seeking out ‘truth’ is not as simple as asking if this is the only and true way of doing something. The right questions to ask are;

How does this change feel to me and others?

Can I describe what we’re doing as fun?

Are we achieveing what we set out to achieve?

At least for the time being, is what we’re doing better than what we used to do?

Are we novel?

Am I self-critical?


Thank you for reading


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