Shifting Cognitive and Emotional Frameworks

Emergent Organizational Development and Emergent Change® (EODC®) , Emergent Organizational Development® (EOD®) and Emergent Change® are under registered trademark, 2017. All writings are considered under copyright as per The Institute For Emergent Organizational Development and Emergent Change®, Patrick Trottier and Associates. Written permission is required.

By Patrick A. Trottier

On Perspective

‘Perspective’ is the gathering and interpreting of data and information through our senses to create ‘understanding’ and to create ‘meaning’ in our worlds. Our assumptions, beliefs and values ‘filters’ such data and information through our sensory and our cognitive and emotional processes to create such ‘understanding’ and ‘meaning’.

Based on the above, one of the key principles of EODC® is simply:

How we ‘see’ things is what we create.

This simple principle is critical to ‘transforming oneself and organizations’.

Throughout the EOD® Platform, one very unique aspect within the overall process is in facilitating people to look at themselves and their organization through a different ‘lens’.

To facilitate such, we use a process called ‘Generative Dialogue’:

See: Generative Dialogue’ and Emergent Change 

In the write-up connected to the link above, you will notice that we distinguish between “strategic” and “generative”dialogues. In both forms we release the need for outcomes and instead engage in collective inquiry and the process of ‘meaning making’. As this proceeds, novel decisions emerge throughout the EOD® platform from new ways of thinking and new perspectives.

Here, we gather information from various internal and external sources and have open dialogue (good conversations) about:

  • What are the influencing patterns, trends, disruptions, drivers and determinates that influence us, our organization and our business?
  • What patterns are forming and what do we need to pay attention to?
  • Are these ‘patterns, etc.’ coherent, cohesive and congruent with our current beliefs and assumptions about ourselves, our customers, market, regulations, suppliers, etc.?
  • What perspectives do we need to re-frame to create an organization that is more adaptable, influential, and emergent, in form and capability, to the rapidly changing, complex world we find ourselves in? (second-loop learning)
  • What core elements can be influenced by us, our business and our organization in developing our ‘business model’?

A ‘lens’ naturally acts as our filters of incoming information through our beliefs and assumptions which then shape our thoughts, feelings and perspectives.

Our perspectives shape and form that we create.

When our beliefs, assumptions and perspectives are allowed to emerge and evolve …  so do our organizations more naturally.

Thus, simply through ‘changing lenses and re-framing’ toward an emerging perspective about change, an organization cwill create the ‘conditions’ to adapt, emerge and evolve in real time.

Let’s have some fun with ‘perspective’:

# 1 Exercise: What do you ‘see’ in this picture:

perception - horn plyer

Do you see ‘a woman’s face’ or a ‘jazz horn player’? If you ‘see’ one, relax your eyes and ‘see’ the other. Isn’t that interesting – ‘perception’!

Now think about what you would say and act act toward ‘the woman’. Now, think about what you would say and act toward the ‘jazz player’. Would there be a difference?

What we ‘see’ and how we ‘see’ things certainly defines what we would think, do, and act. We are ‘framed’ by our perceptions.

Thus, our ‘perceptions’ are great influencers in how we create ‘meaning’, what we create, and how we create something.

Thus, if one changes (re-frames) one’s perceptions about something, one creates a different relationship toward that thing, person or event. Be that a husband, or wife, a city, an election, or an organization.

An old OD saying:

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

#2 Exercise. Do you ‘see’ this diagram spinning? Now, relax your eyes and softly look at this diagram. Now think left and the spin will go left. Now think right, and the diagram will spin right. Try it. It may take a moment to relax your eyes and brain to ‘control’ the spin.

Wheel Spin

Isn’t that interesting – ‘Perception’!  Powerful!

Again, think about how our ‘perceptions’ frames our experiences, our thoughts, our decisions, our constructs about the world we interact with.

Curiosity, Exploration, Imagination and Discovery and Re-framing Our Beliefs, Assumptions and Perceptions

We believe that curiosity, exploration, imagination and discovery is critical in ‘re-framing’ our perceptions of ourselves, others, places , events, business, relationships AND organizations – actually everything.

EOD® facilitates the natural human capabilities of curiosity, exploration, discovery and experimentation throughout the EOD® Platform.

This is critical to create emergent change, and emergent organizations.

We see these attributes as critical to ‘open doors’ for innovation, creativity and new forms of everything – including organizations.

We emphatically believe that humans have a natural curiosity for exploration, discovery and the unknown.

We also believe that humans have an innate capability to collaborate and are self-organizing agents given the ‘conditions’ to do so.

We believe that such natural human essences and inalienable attributes are depleted by our current institutions, our business structures, systems and processes, our social norms, traditional parenting, schools and organizational design and work environments.


Some Key Dynamics Within the EOD® Platform Worth Mentioning

‘Shifting Mental and Emotional Frameworks’, ‘Developing Readiness’, ‘Ownership’, ‘Effective Engagement’, and ‘Emergent Learning’ are all key human and organizational dynamics that are facilitated within the EOD® approach.

The ‘Fit’ Diagram

This diagram tries to show the degree of different organizational approaches along the horizontal axis to change and how such manifests the degrees of the four change elements along the vertical axis

Within the EOD® platform, the importance of becoming aware of what ‘shifting an emotional and cognitive framework‘ is like, and forming a comfort zone to that experience before getting into the organizational business model, business strategy, organizational design, etc., is critical, as simply stated below:

Dee Hock, author of Birth of the Chaordic Age, Founder and CEO Emeritus, VISA, says it well:

“Small shifts in deeply held beliefs and values can massively alter social behavior
and results – in fact, may be the only things that ever have.”

The most difficult part is to understand and get beyond the origin
and nature of our current concepts of organizations; to set them aside
in order make space
for new and different thoughts.”

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE and Re-framing Our Beliefs, Assumptions and Perceptions

There is a fundamental and natural process by which the human mind forms novel patterns of thought and thus facilitates a shift in cognitive and emotional frameworks by bringing in new information that does not align to current perceptions.

This is called ‘cognitive dissonance’.

Cognitive dissonance theory proposes that people seek psychological consistency between their personal expectations of life and the existential reality of life as seen though new information. To function by a expectation of experiential consistency, the mind has naturally incorporated the process of dissonance reduction in order to continually align our perceptions of the world with the patterns, trends, expectations and actions of the real world.

This is a pretty good write-up about ‘cognitive dissonance’, if interested:

An EODC® approach and an emergent perspective also seems to be the answer to this famous quote below attributed to Albert Einstein:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over
and expecting different results.

GENERATIVE DIALOGUE and Re-framing Our Beliefs, Assumptions and Perceptions

Within EOD®, we facilitate dialogue among key stakeholders not to come up with determined solutions at this point, but to understand how we see ourselves, our current perceptions of our ‘worlds’, and is there a need to shift our mental and emotional frameworks in order to enhance an organization’s ability to create and sustain its organizational and business vitality and viability in complex worlds.

The following diagram lends to facilitate developing the competency / ability to become comfortable with ‘shifting one’s mental framework’, and thus more comfortable with change.

GENERATIVE DIALOGUE DIAG                                                                                                              Patrick A. Trottier,M.S., Earon Kavanagh, PhD., 2003

There are many ‘tools’ to use in the OD tool box to facilitate such an ability. It does take ‘experiencing’ ‘shifting one’s mental end emotional frameworks’, and a degree of ‘conscious discipline’, thus practice…practice…practice just like any other learned competency.

EMERGENT LEARNING Is All Through the EODC® Platform

Single, Double, Triple, and Quadruple-loop Learning (Emergent Learning)

Shifting ‘perspectives’ is a learning process of assimilation and accommodation. The deeper we reflect on situations, the more there is a possibility that we actually change how we see ourselves and things.

The concepts of Single, Double and Triple Loop Learning is explained by Chris Argyris. Wierdsma and Swieringa also take such as a fundamental concept to explain what a learning organization does. Hargrove also uses it in his books on Masterfull Coaching.


Single-Loop Learning ⇒ primary actions / activities and what will improve such…

Single-loop learning assumes that problems and their solutions are close to each other in time and space (thought they often aren’t). In this form of learning, we are primarily considering our actions and results. Small changes are made to specific practices or behaviors, based on what has or has not worked in the past. This involves doing things better without necessarily examining or challenging our underlying beliefs and assumptions. The goal is improvements and fixes that often take the form of procedures or rules. Single-loop learning leads to making minor fixes or adjustments, like using a thermostat to regulate temperature.

Are we doing things right? Here’s why this works or does not work – insights and patterns to our activities and approaches about what we do and the results obtained (desired or not desired). Here’s what to do—procedures or rules to correct / improve / fix things.

Double-Loop Learning ⇒ operating beliefs and assumptions that are internal influencers / filters in how we ‘see a situation’…

Double-loop learning leads to insights about why a solution works or does not work. In this form of learning, we are considering our actions in the framework of our operating beliefs and assumptions. This is the level of process analysis where people become observers of themselves, asking, “What are our beliefs and assumptions that underlie our decisions and activities to achieve results?What is going on here? What are the patterns?” We need this insight to understand the patterns. We change the way we make decisions and deepen understanding of our assumptions. Double-loop learning works with major fixes or changes, like redesigning an organizational function or structure.

Are we doing the right things? Here’s why this works or does not work – insights and patterns to our beliefs and assumptions about why we do what we do.

Triple-Loop Learning ⇒ how the ‘context’ of a situation and our environments shapes our mental and emotional frameworks – how we see things….

Triple-loop learning involves how a person ‘sees’ / frames things based on the influencers of the context and the environmental aspects the situation and the person is in. The learning goes beyond our own beliefs and assumptions in gaining insights into what we perceive and how we perceive it.

As a foundation OD piece, Kurt Lewin offered this formula: ‘B= f (P,E)

The formula states that behavior and our perspectives (B) is a function (f) of the person (P) and his or her environment (E).

This level of exploration and novel understandings can create a shift in our original understanding based on a shift on our mental and emotional framework.

Emergent Learning  – Forming new perspectives.

This form of learning challenges us to understand how things are linked together (density of relationships), and what ‘pattern influencers’ are at play. It also challenges us to look at things from different angles and to consider alternative perspectives.

As an example, when looking at organizations and the relationships between organizational structure /design, technology, behavior and performance, a fundamentally change in our insights into these relationships will bring about novel strategies and actions.

Emergent Learning

Emergent Learning incorporates four areas:

  1. Learning new functional skills and capabilities in real time…
  2. Learning about things as ‘a whole system’ – relationships and influencers’.
  3. Learning about change itself as well as how changing patterns shape and effect a situation, a person, a thing… ‘Pattern Thinking™.
  4. Collaborative Learning Networks using both ‘technical’ and ‘human’ sources for continuous, emergent learning and development.

This diagram comes from the ‘Emergent Action Reseach™’ aspect of EOD®

EAR - gif complete B

Note: There is an additional ‘awareness’ that comes from ’emergent learning’ and ‘Pattern Thinking™ which is developing a greater understanding of the dynamics of natural, emergent change itself.  This is most critical in leadership and, well,  everybody’s capabilities in creating emergent organizations.

A second critical outcome based on the capability of understanding and experiencing ‘pattern displays’ is a natural shift in our perspectives based on new experiences in our interactions with new forms of information displays. Words and numbers are static and give us limited information to the brain. Pattern displays give us much more of an experience due to the holographic, neural arrangement of how the brain imports information from all our sense.

An Example:

How many words, numbers, pages would it take to describe the weather displayed here? 500,000 words and numbers? 100 pages of raw data? How long to begin to understand all those words and numbers?

How long does it take to begin to understand the ‘patterns’ occurring in this gif?

Through such ‘pattern display interface’, the human brain can understand a lot of information in a few seconds.

Viewing this ‘pattern display’ below of just a few seconds gives us a different perspective than standing on the shores of the North Carolina pacific coast looking out into the Atlantic ocean.

What interesting pattern is forming in the gif below other than the possible formation of a hurricane?


Why is understanding change patterns critical to teams and leaders?

Generating a greater understanding of the dynamics of natural, emergent change itself (Emergent Learning™) is critical because such develops a greater ‘comfort zone’ to dealing with ‘chaos and complexity’ in rapidly changing environments.

Understanding natural, emergent change also gives rise to ‘seeing’ oneself, one’s organization and the conditions integral within an organization differently – through a different ‘lens’. A lens of evolution, adaptation, natural change and emergence. 

Thus, through practice, an emergent ‘lens’ starts to unfold in the mind – a new capability and ‘comfort zone’ to understand the dynamics of change from – where change is seen as natural.

Developing A Greater ‘Comfort Zone’ With Chaos

It is my belief and experience that a new ‘paradigm’ of transformation is needed.

As such, I contend:

“When one’s comfort zone (individual, group ,organization) with ‘the unknown’ is greater than (>) one’s comfort zone of ‘the known’, transformation occurs naturally… curiosity, exploration, open systems, trust, etc., open up and evolution occurs… naturally…” (P. Trottier – sometime in the 1980s)

Emergence, chaos and complexity are natural to our sense and motivation to explore. 

This is partially based on the assumption that we, as humans, are born with a natural curiosity and comfort with the ‘unknown’. Such is innate in us. Our socialization, parental practices, our education, our work experiences, our institutionalization in general block that ‘naturalness’ from us as we learn to assimilate and accommodate new norms, perceptions and beliefs through our lives. In other words we hear a lot of ‘no’s. and ‘watch outs’, and ‘you can’t do that’… and finally we drive that natural curiosity out of our natural ways of being.

With organizations, the traditional structures (hierarchical), roles, status levels, power dynamics, communication dynamics, systems, processes, competencies, perspectives, how we ‘see’ organizations, etc., etc., actually INHIBIT the natural human nature to explore, to create, to innovate and to collaborate.

In addition, what type of  ‘culture’ does all this traditional stuff create? What do people ‘experience’ day-to-day in their work world(s)? What is the impact to performance, as well as people’s lives?

So what about ‘the natural flow of emergence’ – how does that come about? Is such  a simple but also a complex human conversion?  Basically one key foundation  has to do with a shift in one’s ‘cognitive and emotional mental frameworks’ within an environment that supports and reinforces safety, exploration and appreciation… one that I am writing and speaking about… and soon will post more about how to create such even in the most hierarchical, controlling, static environments.

I am showing the following diagram again as simple a summary of the four consultative models and their relation to four fundamental dynamics of effective change on a very simple level. The focus here is on ‘fit’ and the degree of ‘need’ in regards to these four underlying dynamics in relation to the type of consultation approach needed to ‘fit’ a certain situation.

1. A shift in an emotional and mental framework (since humans are mostly an emotional species.)
2. Degrees of ‘readiness’.
3. Degrees of ‘ownership’.
4. Effective engagement (the emphasis here is on ‘effective’.

(For more understanding in regards to: ‘Approaches to Consultation: The Four Basic Models’, go to:  – this article has been read now by over 40,000 visits around the world – how about that!)

To understand anything simply gives people a greater degree of comfort when dealing with that ‘thing’. In experiencing degrees of ‘chaos’ that is a natural part of learning and change itself, we learn and gain a greater ‘comfort zone’  where ‘chaos’ is experienced as a natural part of the change process giving people greater capabilities with manifesting and adapting to ‘change’ itself.

By understanding ‘patterns’ their influence and how change occurs, we begin to understand what we call ‘chaos’.

I have known a number of ‘leaders’, when they experience ‘chaos’ during a change process, revert back to the former status quo because the feel / think that the change effort is not working, or their ‘comfort zone’ has passed its threshold to continue on into the unknown.  They did not understand that ‘chaos’ is a natural part of incremental, transitional and transformational change. Many try to manage and control change efforts rather than guide it or allow such to emerge within guiding principles, operating guidelines and boundary conditions. (more on this later under ‘Business Model’, and Organizational Alignment)

“Out of chaos emerges form.
Out of complexity emerges
 simplicity through form.
Out of form emerges purpose.”

‘On Emergent Change – Patterns To Form’,
Patrick Trottier, 2012

A simple exercise regarding a ‘chaotic experience’: Simply use your alternative hand to move your computer mouse on the screen and to click on any link. Do you experience some degree of chaos? How long did it take to experience the urge to transfer back to your usual hand to manage your cursor on the screen?

If you are ambidextrous, think about the first time you tried to ride a bicycle, learn to drive a car, ski down a hill, ice skate, hit a golf ball, play the piano – or,whatever experience you choose to reflect upon. Was chaos experienced? Did you fall, stumble, make mistakes, get frustrated? Did you quit learning? What happened when you kept going? What happened to the chaos? (Well, maybe hitting a golf ball is an exception to the point made – LOL)

Re-framing Organizational, People and Business Perspectives

Shifting cognitive and emotional frameworks is critical throughout the EOD® Platform.

This journey starts within a foundational area to explore and have good conversations in relation to re-constructing ‘The Business Model’ of an organization.

Dialogue and exploration centres around topics such as (and not necessarily in this order):

  • What is our Higher Purpose?
  • What are our Principles?
  • How do we ’embed’ our Higher Purpose and Principles into our organizational design, systems, processes, policies, relationships, decision-making processes, etc.
  • What business are we in?
  • What is our brand? What are we known for? What do we want to be known for? How do we create such through customer and market experience?
  • What are our customers saying?
  • How do we develop and retain customers?
  • What are our key products and services?
  • What are our business / pricing models?
  • What does our risk analysis tell us?
  • What will we do different from the competition? Who are our competition?
  • What is IT / IS / AI role and strategy in our business model?
  • How are we going to work together as an integrated whole organization?
  • What kind of relationships do we need / want with our environments (internal / external)?
  • Do we need to ‘re-design’ our organization to manifest what we want to create?
  • What does ‘leadership’ look like in our business model? How do we create a ‘Leadership Culture’ to manifest our organizational culture?
  • How important is ‘culture’ in our business model? What is the role of ‘culture’ in our business model? What does culture look like in our business model? How do we give people day-to-day ‘experiences’ congruent and consistent with our desired culture so such ‘lives’? How do we ‘manifest’ our culture through our IT/IS designs, our business systems / processes and organizational design? How do we create a ‘Leadership Culture’ to manifest our organizational culture?

A detailed diagram of the EOD® approach to creating Emergent Organizations™

For a full write up on the EOD® Platform:

Again, this is the time to challenge our beliefs, assumptions and perceptions about who we are, what we are about, how we filter information through what ‘lens’, and what information is critical to have some open dialogue about.

Internalizing different perspectives facilitates novel thoughts in looking at an organization’s business model, people and systems as well as manifesting emergent, evolving experiences to actualize greater adaptiveness and organizational emergence to changing and complex people and business challenges.

“There is nothing as great as honest and open conversations to ‘see’ things in new ways.”
(Trottier, sometime in the 60’s)

The Importance Of Integration Within Emergent Organizations, EODC®, and Emergent Change (TM)

Today many organizations are made up of, for the most part, segmented ‘boxes’. These ‘boxes’ or what are called key functions such as finance, IT/IS, HR, operations, marketing, communications, corporate, resourcing, customer service, billing, etc. mainly live in their own worlds. Each have their own colloquialisms, organizational dynamics, work processes, goals, strategies, pressures, hurdles, problems, checks and balances, and ways of doing things.

Each of these functions basically live in their ‘world’. We have many ‘worlds’ in an organization.

Thus, each ‘function’  sees the organization from their own perspectives. Each function will protect their own territory for their own survival.  Each will communicate their own perspectives to obtain resources for its own functioning

Each territory protects its information, because information is power.

This is the traditional hierarchical structure with its organizational dynamics and its many variations. This is a critical reason so many ‘change strategies’ fail.

The traditional modern organization is designed to hold onto the status quo, centralize its power and authority, hope for predictability of outcomes and try to continually stabilize the course while the world is changing at breakneck speeds and the issues, challenges and opportunities are becoming exponentially complex on both a regional and global scale.

May be we need to think in a ‘network mindset’ rather than siloed hierarchies?

A changing organizational perspective – how I see my organization:

I saw it as  hierarchy then this…Across Hierarchy now this..NETWORKS PT 6

How I will ‘see’ my organization differently, and thus develop my organization so such will continually emerge into novel forms as our internal and external environments change?

So, let us inquire and explore as we shift our perspectives and continue to understand the importance of ‘re-framing of perspectives’ within us.

Q: What is the ‘value’ – no, that is not a good enough word here.  What is the ‘power’ of taking the time to focus on, and shift / re-frame our ‘perspectives’ about ourselves,  our organization, our business, and what is happening in our internal and external environments?

Q: What is the value in experiencing what ‘shifting and re-framing’ one’s assumptions, beliefs and perspectives is like? What is that experience like?

Q: What is the value, throughout the EOD® platform, to manifest ‘a different lens’ from which to create novel business forms, capabilities and approaches to deal with the rapidly changing issues, opportunities and challenges in an emerging, complex world.

We leave this section with another quite interesting question to ponder:

“When does information and knowledge become our inhibitor?”

Final comment:

EOD® is not a step-wise, linear traditional change management process. You do not ‘finish’ with one part and leave it in the dust.

All areas integrate, synergize with, and influence the other EOD® Platform areas. They all form together to create a continually, synergistic, emerging organization.

Thus, all areas of the EODC® platform co-create the conditions within an organization so emergent change becomes apparent, is influenced more fluidly and naturally, and ‘change’ itself is viewed and experienced as a normal, continuous, emergent, real-time process.

I hope you have gotten some value in this write-up.


©The Institute For Emergent Organizational Development and Emergent Change®

About Patrick A. Trottier

I am a 30 plus year applied Organizational Development practitioner having honed my craft in the U.S., Canada and internationally. Presently living in beautiful Vancouver, B.C., I am currently developing the next evolution of O.D. termed; 'Emergent Organizational Development and Emergent Change® (EODC)®, and focusing on Emergent OD®, Emergent Change® and the development of Emergent Organizations® within my professional practice.
This entry was posted in Change, chaos and complexity, Emergent Change, Emergent OD and Change, Emergent Organizational Development, Emergent Organizations, Leadership, Organizational Design, Organizational Development, Perception, Performance, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s