An Introduction To Emergent Organizational Development And Change (EODC)™

shell-face-2Everything on this site is constantly emerging…
Patrick A. Trottier, M.S.

My passion in ’emergent change’ started in the mid-90s working with clients that stemmed from financial organizations looking at fast regulatory change and shifting customer service expectations, municipalities that were facing rapid growth migration as well as a huge culture diversity mix in their new citizens, and IT companies that were still experiencing rapid evolution in their technology applications, new challenges within their own organizations and serious competitors rising up almost every day.

During this time, I began to notice that ‘change’ happened every day, that change seemed natural and constant, that change had its ebb and flows. I also observed that the approaches to ‘managing change’  were cumbersome processes of ‘planned change’ or ‘event change’ initiatives focused on the future, or the past, while real change was happening in the present.

I also noticed that the effort to change the organization was some ‘special project’ with a lot of extra effort and fanfare outside of the business of the business itself, and every day work.

What Is Emergent Organizational Development and Change (EODC)™?

We know that organizations today are facing a significant increase in the rate of change and greater complexities in the issues, opportunities and challenges they face as regional and global growth is demanded.

The purpose of Emergent Organizational Development and Change (EODC)™ is to help create the conditions for organizations to conquer the complexities and the rates of change in the 21st Century.

EODC™ is the capability to continually influence, adapt and organize in line with changing emergent patterns in one’s internal and external environments.

Edward Hampton, Managing Member, Performance Perspectives LLC states it well;
“Position OD work on the emergent.  Past OD work has looked to the Past and/or to the Future.  Those were boxes.   The emergent is where Flow operates.   It is where the client lives – and dies.   OD consultants need to work there.”

A few concepts EODC™ embraces:

For emergent change to become apparent and continually shaped, an organization needs to create the ‘conditions’ for such to occur, and embrace ideas such as…

  • People are naturally experiential; that is, people create their perceptions, beliefs and assumption through their experiences.
  • Change occurs in ‘real-time’.
  • People are naturally ‘self-organizing agents’.
  • People have a natural curiosity for exploration, discovery and the unknown.
  • People have a natural sense to collaborate more often than not.
  • Change is natural to people depending on the degree of impact, control and influence in how change occurs.
  • IT/IS open and integrated system designs are fundamental and integral to emergent change and creating emergent, adaptive, fluid organizations.
  • Emergent Action Research is fundamental EODC™.
  • One must view an organization and a person as a ‘whole, dynamic, systemic system with itself and its environments’.
  • For the most part, natural human attributes related to emergent change and enhanced performance are depleted by our current social norms, organizational structures, systems / process design and work environments.
  • People need to understand change itself, before one can better influence, move with, or adapt to change.

EODC™ is simply understood as setting up the conditions within an organization so emergent change becomes apparent and influenced more fluidly, naturally and is viewed and experienced as a normal,  continuous, real-time process.

More at:

I always liked these three sayings;

‘Change is a constant…’,
‘Change changes…’
‘Change occurs only in the present…’

The idea of change as a continuous, natural process (Chia, 1999, Tsoukas and Chia, 2002; Weick and Quinn, 1999) is becoming more prevalent and yet change itself is still often experienced by practitioners and clients as a disruptive project, as a disequilibrium, as related to resistance, loss of security, and fear of uncertainty. I believe this is the current general mindset and is reinforced in the current practices of ‘change management’.


  • Maybe we have to think differently about change – a different mental and emotional framework.
  • Maybe we have to understand change before we can better influence, move with, or adapt to change.
  • Maybe we need a different vocabulary about change itself. Words influence and convey how we ‘see’ things. How we ‘see’ things is how we create organizational designs.

This goes to the heart of our work in developing the framework and platform in regards to an Emergent Organizational  Development and Change (EODC)™ approach.

What is ’emergence’?

We use the terms “emergent” and “emergence”  because  such refers to the state of being in continual process, never arriving but always in transition.

“Emergent change is based on the shaping of continuous forms by internal and external influencing patterns. That which emerges may be further shaped into further continually evolving patterns.” (P. Trottier, 1995)

What Are Emergent Organizations?

When we refer to organizations as emergent, we are saying that every feature of organizations—culture, meaning, social relationships, decision making processes as well as business systems and processes—are continually emergent, following no exact predefined pattern. These organizational features are products of constant social negotiation, influencing patterns and determinates.

The organization itself, or any of its features, may exhibit temporal regularities. But such temporal regularities are recognizable only by hindsight and at a moment in time, because organizations are always in process; they are never fully formed. This does not negate achieving goals since most goals continue on after an initial goal is reached since the goal itself may emerge. In addition, strategies to achieve goals are always emerging as things change along the way, thus emergence always helps the achievement of any goal.

Organizational emergence holds the theory that organizations do not assume that stable structures, systems and processes underpin organizations.“(1.)

Organizations are always shifting to deal with things, and to get things done. No two days, hours, minutes, moments are alike.

convex-and-concave_jpgblog escher_painting

The assumed organization                                    and                              reality

Emergent Organizational Development and Change (EODC)™ is based on the following:

  1. The Fundamentals of Organizational Development.
  2. Chaos Theory. “Out of chaos comes form.” (P. Trottier, 2017)
  3. Complexity Theory. “Out of complexity comes simplicity through form.” (P. Trottier, 2017)
  4. Process and Emergent Consultation approaches.
  5. Human Development and Naturalism.
  6. Emergent business structures, systems and processes.

For more detailed information and description regarding certain aspects of EODC™, please explore the list of write-up to the right. This list will continue to expand focused on certain critical elements of emergent systems and processes such as IT/IS information streams, leadership, culture, structure (forms), business models, strategic alignment, organizational design, customers, supply side, collaborative value-based networks, reputational capital, etc..

In line with the spirit of emergence itself, the ideas, thoughts and write-ups within this forum will also continually emerge.

I have trademarked Emergent Organizational Development and Change (EODC)™ soley to protect its integrity. I do not want what happened to OD in its dilution where OD became anything and everything in the 1990s.

All comments, ideas, challenges, and diversity of thought are welcomed.

I am still learning.

1. (Baskerville, R., Travis, J., and Truex, D.P. Systems without method: The impact of new technologies on information systems development projects. In K.E. Kendall, K. Lyytinen, and J.I. DeGross, Eds., Transactions on the Impact of Computer Supported Technologies in Information Systems Development. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1992.)

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