Change is a fact of life. It is also a major factor in it. Increasingly so. Both the amount of change and the faster pace of change are widely acknowledged. No doubt you feel it yourself. Just imagine what somebody who died only 40-50 years ago would think if they were to come back today (as I sometimes do with my father.) And, in his book “Leading Change”, John Kotter claims that this is not going to slow down soon, but rather speed up! This makes the future daunting.
Change is supposed to make life easier. Unfortunately that isn’t always the case, especially initially. It takes time to familiarise yourself with, and adapt to, the new; let alone master it. So when change comes fast and furious, proficiency becomes elusive and mastery next to impossible. This is discouraging, demotivating and stressful. It is no wonder so many change initiatives are unsuccessful.
More frightening, however, is that the sheer volume of change makes it seem highly unlikely the proportion of successful change will improve. (The fact that this sad statistic hasn’t changed in decades, despite greater focus on change management, seems to support this prognosis.) Yet there is a way you can beat the odds. The answer is actually implied in “Leading Change,” but – ironically – has not been fully understood or applied.
Now, I don’t know about you but to me, a dynamic adaptive organisation sounds like an organisation that more closely resembles a living organism. This means that it is an organisation that is continuously and continually evolving. An organisation in which change is seemingly unconscious; effortless, natural and unforced. Effectively an organisation where you would not need “change management”.
Kotter says the key to developing a dynamic adaptive organisation is, “The development of leadership skills … [where] the willingness and ability to keep developing become central to career success for individuals and to economic success for organisations.” Of course he is right. But, if you are serious about building a learning organisation like this, you need to create a culture of empowerment: one where employees themselves are leaders, with the autonomy to respond to any situation without fear of criticism, condemnation or consequences.
There is nothing new there. Indeed Kotter himself says as much. The problem is: you cannot do this within your prevailing organisational structure. Traditional or conventional organisation structures present the ultimate barrier to change. Thus, the biggest change you need to make is to create an environment in which you have the distributed leadership you need, with the mutual trust necessary to ensure appropriate decisions are taken to meet the specific circumstance.
Thus, before you think about introducing any other change, you should think about the change you need to bring this about. And you need to ensure that this is not one of those failed changes that are so prevalent. When you succeed with this, you will have created an environment of ‘change mastery’ in which change is almost as natural as breathing. You may even find you never need another change management project.
If you like what you have read contact me today to discuss how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model could help you value your people and provide the catalyst to help you create an organic culture where everyone cares and the business becomes our business, embedding continuous improvement that engenders ‘love at work’ and transforms – and sustains – organic business performance.
Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organisational culture model that helps transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement” and, more recently, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped.