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Chapter 5 Transformational Organizational Change, Reinforcing Structures, and Formal Communication

Abstract Given the changes forecast to result from global warming, scholars' and practitioners' interest in sustainability and organizational change is increasing. Although sustainability-related changes can be piecemeal and incremental, my interest is on transformational change. Transformational organizational changes begin when key individuals become aware of new processes, technologies, opportunities, constraints, and expectations. Once awareness occurs, the challenge becomes transforming information into useable knowledge and diffusing it throughout the system. Factors influencing the adoption of an innovation are reviewed. The characteristics of change adopters and stages of change are identified. Important communication roles during times of change (e.g., board members, top executives, change agents, sustainability champions), the process of communicating about change, guidance for change communicators, and formal structural and communication efforts to facilitate change efforts are discussed. Formal ways to embed a focus on sustainability within an organization include changing an organization's structure (e.g., creating new roles, creating new interand intraorganizational coordinating structures) and designing pathways (e.g., mission and vision statements, goals and plans, formal communication channels). In addition to transformation change, theories or theoretical concepts highlighted include diffusion of innovation theory, the absorptive capacity concept, sensemaking theory, structuration theory, systems theory, transformational leadership, the communication approach to leadership, models of communication and change, and ethos. Interview data spotlights the City of Boulder, the City of Portland, the City and County of Denver, Sam's Club, Assurity Life Insurance, the HEAL project, the University of Colorado, Portland, the Neal Kelly Company, Tyson Foods, the Portland Trail Blazers, and Aspen Skiing Company.

Lewis and Clark, Information and Change Lewis and Clark began their 1804 expedition during a time of great change in the USA. The Library of Congress had just been established (1800), West Point Military Academy opened (1802), Ohio became our 17th state (1803), and New Jersey abolished slavery (1804). With the purchase of the 530,000,000 acre Louisiana Territory, the USA doubled in size. A major goal of the Expedition was to bring back information on the inhabitants, plants, animals, minerals, geography, and weather of the West. Between 1804 and

1806, Lewis gathered specimens including boxes of seeds, dried plants, soils, and minerals; live animals and birds; Native vocabularies, pots, bows and arrows, baskets, quilled and beaded clothing, and painted buffalo robes. Some of these artifacts “were the first and last evidence of cultures that would soon perish due to disease and cultural devastation” (Hunter 2009). Over time, physical specimens and artifacts were lost because of the lack of awareness of their historical importance and an infrastructure to keep them safe. This example illustrate how systems (e.g., the USA) change, and how information gathered to meet goals can be lost if it is not integrated into a system when it can be changed into knowledge.

 
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