Academic journal article Organization Development Journal

Theory S: A Chinese Transformative OD Framework

Academic journal article Organization Development Journal

Theory S: A Chinese Transformative OD Framework

Article excerpt

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I would like to show my gratitude to a few important people who have made important contributions to this article. First of all, I would like to appreciate Dr. Joanne Preston for not only inviting me to write this article for this particular issue of the ODJ, but also making wonderful suggestions for improving my earlier draft of the article. Second, I would like to thank my friend and colleague Dr. Nancy Southern who provided great suggestions for improving this article. The last but not the least, I am deeply grateful to my dear daughter, an amazing capable young woman, Apricot Tang, who has done so much great editing work for me.

On August 31, 1988, I went to the United States to bring the key wisdom necessary for developing high performing organizations back to China. That was very significant to me, because I was told by our Chinese embassy in New York that I was the first from mainland China to come to the US to learn about management and organization. At the time, the whole of China did not have anyone formally trained as a management professional because China had no management school. I had the image that I was the modern "Monk Tang" travelling to the west to bring back the "ultimate wisdom" from the US, just as the Chinese story of a monk in the Tang Dynasty-commonly called Monk Tang-who traveled to the West (more specifically Nepal and India) to bring back Buddhism which helped transformed China into a global power.

However, as a OD theorist and a practitioner, I faced a question that deeply bothered me: If OD is essential to an organization's success, why have so many organizational change projects ended in failure? "It is reported by multiple sources that the failure rate of organization development change efforts is as high as 70%" (Varney, 2017, p.25).

What is the real problem? What can we look to as an effective model? Despite a plethora of OD theories and models, we have very little deep understanding of what has been proven to work. After a great deal of searching in the west, I began to looking for wisdoms in the east. Under the supervision of Dr. Yi Wu-who was called "the Chinese Sage" in the west, I worked on my second doctorate degree in Chinese philosophy and culture at CIIS. Honestly, it filled my needs for searching for wisdom with extraordinary excitement, as the whole Chinese philosophical system was totally new to me. (During the Cultural Revolution in the 20th century, China threw her classical philosophies away and she totally relied on western Marxism). To my delight, I have also found that the Chinese medicine system-which is heavily reliant on Chinese systemic thinking- has tremendous healing success. It is common to all that Chinese medicine helps anyone to improve health, and it does not have any serious negative effects or failures. This rose my interests: can we use the Chinese medicine practice to do OD? Can we help all organizations without any significant failures? Is it possible to synergize the Chinese medicine practices with western OD practices to create something even better?

For the past 30 years, I have been on a journey of synergy. This came out of my lived experiences in both the east and the west. I have developed a new self, Blake, which is western, and is very different than my original Chinese self, Yongming. I play the two selves together, manifesting myself differently in different situations: When I go back to China, I manifest myself as a Chinese person who is able to relate to Chinese culture and people well, and likewise, I manifest myself as Blake when I am in western culture. And also sometimes I can creatively integrate the best of my Chinese self and western self to create a new being which is transcending the limitations of each, a phenomenon which I call synergy (Tang, 2006).

And yet, as I play this notion of synergy with personal transformative journey, I absolutely love it. …

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