Dynamic Approach RuleThe label ‘dynamic approach’ indicates the necessity of discovering multiple forces at work in any situation. This means that no matter where we enter an organisational development or change process we need to be prepared to use many levels of analysis to understand what is going on within the social system. What is affecting the people who are leading, managing and existing in the midst of the change and development?
Lewin’s dynamic approach rule states that the ‘elements of any situation should be regarded as parts of a system’. In other words, we find it useful as scholarly practitioners to assume that all component parts relate with each other forming a complex whole. We find it useful to assume that all parts connect somehow in ways to be discovered through action and study.
The dynamic approach rule challenges us to be concerned with multiple energizing or motive forces. At minimum, this requires data to be collected and analysed at multiple levels of social analysis. As we consider the issues implicated in a particular change, we discipline ourselves to describe separate components and to assert how they might be influencing each other. No matter which level we enter – individual, group, inter-group, organisational or inter-organisational – we work to notice and hypothesize about connections across the boundaries of these levels.
Within The Tavistock Institute’s archive, a study conducted by Gordon Lawrence and Eric Miller exemplifies the dynamic approach rule. They were asked by a government department to study the psychic and political constraints on the growth of industrial democracy in the UK. Their theoretical formulation started with the societal level at which European-wide legislation in favour of workers’ councils within all businesses was under debate. As they gathered and worked with data, they noticed and made connections between societal forces and individual psychological forces. Particularly, they were able to show that feelings of ‘failed dependency’ towards both employer and employee representative organisations resulted in insufficient trust in industrial democracy to challenge corporate resistance.