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Change is a Verb

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There have been countless articles, books, posts, seminars, and workshops on "Change." We have been guided on how to Lead the Change, Integrate the Change, Manage the ChangeCommunicate the Change, Imbed the Change, and on and on. Yet over the past 35 years, one statistic has remained fairly constant - 85% of these change efforts fail.

There is a fundamental flaw with the way Change has been approached. “To Change” is a verb not a noun. It is not a “thing” to be implemented. Once we put the definite article “The” in front of the word “Change” we have already failed.  

Treating Change as a noun, sets up a false construct with three component parts: Leadership, The Change, The Organization.  Here Leaders attempt to get the Organization to implement the Change – which is defined as a known shift that leads to a desired new state.

This leads to several interrelated fatal misconceptions about change that doom these efforts:

  • Firstly, it treats Change as something definite– taking an organization from Point A to Point B at which point the change is completed

  • Secondly, it assumes an end state where the organization will remain at Point B for a time before embarking on another change some time in the future

  • Thirdly, it treats Change as something distinct from the ongoing activity of the organization.

But,

  • Change is not a definite “Point A to Point B” exercise.  Once an organization embarks from Point A, Point B has already shifted, and the organization must continually adapt and redefine.

  • There is no such thing as an “end state.” Organizations and their environments are fluid, not static. Change is ongoing.

  • Change is part of the core activity of any organization, not something else to be done and managed.  People and organizations change all the time and always have done. It is how they survive and progress.

The real problems with changing effectively have more to do with the people in the organization not accepting, believing in, or committing to the proposed directional goals of leadership. And/or from being prevented by process and structure, from freely applying their knowledge and experience to shifting situations.

The solution to changing effectively comes down to shaping an operating environment that engages and activates all constituents of the organization in the framing and pursuit of directional goals. And one that then provides sufficient freedom, tools and resources to ensure these goals can be achieved.

Written by Thomas Rottenberger, Founder at Artisanal Leadership

 

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