Really successful change requires new paradigms

Opens in new windowIf we are going to adapt our businesses in a rapid and controlled way, then we need large-scale organisational change.

This recent article in the Huffington Post, based on some of the latest thinking, identifies three key reasons why change management fails.

The reasons are:

  1. Change consultants are insufficiently equipped on a personal level.
  2. Most change models are incomplete.
  3. Capacity is widely overlooked, on all levels.

The author says that the solutions are:

  1. Change consultants need more personal development
  2. The change process needs a ‘complete change model’ (from preparation through design, impact analysis, design of change process, implementation, and ongoing course corrections)
  3. Development of additional capacity to work on changing the business, rather than running the business — by “teaching the client managers to fish”, or teaching them to run their own change programme.

I suggest three alternative priorities.

First, I would put freeing up additional organisational capacity first. And rather than buying additional resources or teaching managers to manage their own change (which actually reduces organisational capacity in the short term) I would introduce a new way of thinking about business: a holistic/unified model that simplifies the task of leadership and enables leaders to focus more precisely on what matters, achieving more with less. In Einstein’s terms, it would provide a new level of thinking to solve the problems (ie the stuck organisation) that have been created by the current level of thinking. This leads neatly to the second priority.

To me second priority is personal development, but needs to be applied just as much (if not more) to the leadership of the client organisation as to the change consultants. Without this we will simply be building a new organisation ‘B’ that is as inflexible as the old organisation ‘A’: run by managers with the same thinking that ran the current organisation into the sand.

Third, although a controlled change process (to get from ‘A’ to ‘B’) is important, more important is to ensure that we have designed a future state ‘B’ that is more adaptable than the current state. Otherwise it will not be long before the organisation is stuck and needing the consultants again. The future state ‘B’ needs to be designed around a more adaptable, and therefore more holistic or ‘unified’ theory or paradigm for business, than the current model. And this needs to match the new levels of insight introduced in the ‘personal development’ stage. Again, without a new way of understanding and managing the business, the organisation will soon be back in the sand. And with the right new model, the new level of understanding will provide a simpler focus and clarity than managers currently have, not only ensuring the future state is more adaptable, but also freeing up management time and resources in the current state to enable the whole process to begin.

The result of these three steps would be a new organisation that is not only suited to the new market conditions, but also is fundamentally designed around a new more flexible and evolutionary paradigm for business, and is run by leaders who have the levels of personal and business insight to manage and lead that organisation better than they did in the past.

That’s what I think. What do you think?

The original article is here.

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