Like a lot of others things in life, organizational change doesnít happen because it makes good sense. Or because someone says it ought to. Building the right infrastructure to facilitate change is critical to ensuring the success of these breakthrough transformation ventures.
Change is not automatic, or easy or quick. Let us review what organizational and management research clearly states that are barriers to change. (1) Hidden status quo knowledge and experience (people donít know what they should know in the way to the future); (2) Blindness (knowledge, strategies and next practices may be available, but they donít know about it; (3) Locked-up with business as usual routines (experiences, intuition, old processes and rules and regulations are 80% of the knowledge people have in a work setting. Beginning change ventures only provide 20% of what people need to make a different contribution; (4) The we are different mentality, we invented the industry (parochialism, tunnel vision, ego, ignorance, politics, protectionism, arrogance); (5) Sorry, we are to busy, we are a practical company (rejecting the proposed new vision, thus never putting the mind and the heart at the new task); (6) Implementation is hard (no money, fear of change, lack of leadership, no buy-in, turnover, no support, lack education training and change of management, and others)
Change agents recognize that people drive organizational action and therefore the execution and the results of their institutions. When the tasks are simple, short term, and involve relatively habitual activities, motivation usually leads to accomplish them. When the tasks are complex and far reaching mere motivation is not enough. Conventional strategies that change agents use to motivate people usually lead to very light results, and many traditional leaders act as conspirators with their people in a work ethic of superficiality, not to say negativism.
To create true commitment to a transformation vision, agenda or strategy, change agents must prevent people from superficial buy-ins. Building true commitment to a change agenda means to make the process of signing on to a project more difficult, not easier. Commitment emerges only with difficulties. Easy or routine work does not need or stimulate willpower. Another key and scientific point is that whenever you find an employee executing a task with discipline (high energy and high focus), a senior leader is also present fostering profound dedication to the new challenge at hand.
The organizational-change process design question is what can be done to free people to engage their willpower (a deep personal attachment to certain intention, goal, purpose or vision) toward implementing a change agenda. Our research has identify, at least six strategies: 1) Help people visualize the vision, the goal or the clear vivid picture of what the company wants to achieve and how it will be achieve; 2) Prepare people to face obstacles instead of downplaying risks and costs of the undertakings; 3) Encourage people to confront organizational ambivalences and contradictions of having the new agenda suggesting new things and having the status quo, old work culture saying the opposite; 4) Develop a climate of choice and execution, offering choices and encouraging people to use those choices. This means that change agents support actions, initiatives, discretion, empowerment, but never compromise competitive goals and execution standards. Choice is inevitable and is inevitably linked to responsibility and performance; 5) Build a self-regulating system. If people are going to have the right to choose, they must practice with the discipline to stop and rectify a wrong decision or behavior. A new culture is always one of forming people. IN THE AGE OF KNOWLEDGE, ORGANIZATIONS HAVE TO CREATE SELF-REGULATING PRACTICES WITHOUT IMPOSING HIERARCHICAL AUTHORITY OR A CLOSE SUPERVISORY OR ADMINISTRATIVE STYLE; 6) Create the desire to accomplish a big challenge, a difficult or extreme task.
Change is about making the challenge emotionally captivating.
Copyright 2007 QBS, Inc.