Leadership Trevolution Blog

Blog Entries by Tag: Change Management

The Change You May Not Make

Published on: Oct 31, 2011 | Tags: General, Change Management, Productivity, Organizational Development, Management

A revolution is change. Companies experience many areas of change. At times, multiple changes occur at the same time. A short list of potential change areas might include:

  • Technology
  • Geography
  • Restructure
  • Downsizing
  • Growth
  • Projects
  • Processes
  • Personnel
  • Customer requirements
  • Market demands

 My observation is that some organizations assume that they have the management or leadership capacity to achieve a desired change and employees should accept it while others believe the opposite. I have observed many companies and certainly most employees experience various organizational revolutions, particularly in the past few years. Most of these changes are imposed on an organization for survival, to maintain competitive advantage or ensure support of constituents. In the midst of these changes, there is a revolutionary change that may be ignored, yet presents a great opportunity.

 What would happen in your organization if the way people work together was revolutionized? Not that we are failing to get the job done, but what if we can achieve more in a work environment that has positive effects on people. I presented symptoms reflecting the need for the revolution in a previous blog. If your company decided to change the way people work together what might the results of that revolution be? 

  • Healthy conflict that results in innovation
  • People operating out of their strengths
  • Work with purpose
  • Goal attainment
  • Engagement
  • Commitment
  • Collaboration
  • Accountability
  • Empowerment
  • Healthy communication patterns
  • Clear expectations

 The revolution that results in change of this kind will grow out of an investment in leaders who create workgroups that reflect these attributes. Is it possible for an organization to develop leadership with the skills and passion to intentionally bring people together well and achieve great results? You may say yes, but it is not as easy as it sounds. If you want to move this direction, first consider what you, as a company, believe about management and leadership. That may be the first change you have to make. The second step is to ensure that your investment in development is resulting in effective leaders by your definition. This requires taking a step behind the courses and coaches you engage to determine the theory and philosophy that instructs both their approach and content. Your investment in leadership is reflected in your employees. Is it providing the return you desire?

When Organizational Change Becomes Organizational Evolution

Published on: Oct 24, 2011 | Tags: General, Organizations, Change Management, Organizational Leadership

Organizations experience change and evolution similarly. They should also be differentiated in recognition of the value of leadership that possesses the capacity to build teams in either scenario. The primary challenge in either scenario is people. While changing technology, location, strategy, or customers present a high level of difficulty, it is the potential resistance of people who are interwoven into multiple levels of responsibility that produce failure or resounding success when change occurs.

 Change and evolution are the similar in that people experience them in much the same way. For the most part they are not differentiated in practice. With either, things are not going to be what they have been and you know it. Both create questions about the future, stability, and bring a sense of loss. They also equally present new opportunities. You will recognize the reality that once began, change or evolution means you are going to end up in a different place than where you are today. The result may be a difference in position, responsibilities, coworkers, employees, supervisor, or a position in another company. Something will be different. Finally, change and evolution can both be a reaction to internal or external forces. Either can be driven by the proactive desire to ensure growth leveraging competitive opportunities that exist in the market as well as the internal need for improved effectiveness and efficiency.

 There is a point when change and organizational evolution diverge. There are indicators you will observe when this occurs. The first indicator is an unknown outcome. In change, a fixed outcome is defined, but when evolution kicks in you find yourself saying, “I don’t know where this is going.” In addition, there will be no answers to the questions people ask. When a defined outcome is given for a change process, the answers can be found between the current state of the organization and where it is going. You cannot answer questions when you don’t know where or when the evolutionary process will end. Your mental model does not contain the information needed to compute what is happening. You may try to manage the process, but will determine it is emergent in nature as variables come together in ways you cannot predict for results you did not expect.

 Whether undergoing change or addressing the realities of evolution you will require leadership with the capacity to build teams and develop individuals that can adapt. Otherwise you may miss the critical opportunities that exist in both.

Do you believe in evolution?

Published on: Oct 17, 2011 | Tags: General, Management, Organizations, Change Management, Organizational Development

This is a controversial question. I am not referring to the ongoing scientific debate. The question relates to your experience as a person in an organization. A little more information might help you answer the question for yourself. I am asking you to consider what you believe about organizations. Do you believe that your company is in a constant state of change? The rate of change in the companies and agencies I am aware of is constant and relentless. Seth Godin wrote about how many voicemails and emails go unanswered.  I know many of those I contact are slow to respond if they do so at all. I have spoken with people who say this is a growing problem that affects productivity in their company. Can it be the fast pace and constant change in organizations generates more work than you can get done, forcing you to leave some responsibilities undone?

 If you believe that organizational life is experienced by long periods of stability followed by predictable change, you probably don’t believe organizations are evolving. You may however, find empirical evidence for your belief hard to come by these days. If your experience is more like that of a person in an unpredictable, unstable environment (like a thunderstorm or a hurricane depending on the day) where you are constantly adapting without being sure of what the result of the change will be, you might buy my argument for evolution.

 We need a revolution in how we work together because many current management and labor practices were developed for a time that organizations were considered machines. Theory supported the belief that the machine could be controlled by the practice of scientific management principles. This belief and these practices served well in a time of less change lived at a slower pace. That day is over.

 If organizations are always changing with results that cannot be absolutely controlled or at times even predicted, then we need leaders who can deal with complexity as they navigate this environment. These leaders will be required to bring people together faster.  They need the skills that address the reality of group dynamics in a complex system. Updating old practices based on past beliefs and outdated assumptions will not suffice. These evolutionary times require a revolution in our thinking that will revolutionize our practices. Are you ready for a revolution?

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