'Making change happen' is an important challenge strategists face today. Not only do many of our organizations need change, whole industries and systems need to transform in order to survive and thrive in a connected society. In this study the complexity-based design approach of imagineering is presented and evaluated for its effectiveness in realizing organizational innovation in a sustainable way. The method approaches organizational change as an emerging process of self-organization. By redesigning the business concept in the narrative mode a kind of bottom-up revitalizing process is effectuated which ignites the collective creativity of involved stakeholders in a strategically envisioned direction. Instead of focusing on changing behavior as conventional change-methods do, the method focuses on achieving a mind-shift in order to effectuate 'transformation by inspiration'. The effectiveness of the method is evaluated predominantly through two cases which span a period of approximately ten years: the case of the city of Antwerp, and the case of the oldest Belgian retail-chain, Veritas.
Based on insights gained from this study, the author reflects on the implications of the imagineering design method on four fields of study: transformative organizing, strategic thinking, design thinking in management and management education.
Diane Nijs is professor at NHTV Breda, University of Applied Sciences (The Netherlands) and director of Attract, a strategic inspiration and engagement firm in Antwerp (Belgium).
Introduction; 2 Complexity and Social Systems Inquiry; 3 Enterprise Logic Transformation as a Process of Organizational Emergence;4 The Design Approach of Imagineering;5 Research Methodology; 6 Application and Evaluation of the Imagineering Design Method for Revitalizing the City of Antwerp and the Oldest Belgian Retail-Chain, Veritas; 7 Contributions, Limitations and Conclusions