Approaches to Change – 1: If You Want a Different Result…
“Recognise that the world is changing and the future looks very different from the past. What worked in the past may now be obsolete. A new future requires new ideas and perspectives.”
B J Gallagher Hateley
Article by Mark Gregory:
There has been much written on the subject of change and change management. As in the past I have spent large parts of my career trying leading organisations through periods of change, I have read most of them!
Whilst these texts are sound and predicated on research and observation of those organisations that have been successful at change, I often found they did not quite fit my situation and or set of particular circumstances. As a result I found myself, overtime, modifying and developing a metamorphosis of the best of these approaches. The result was a more practical, less abstract view of change. One that I found actually worked, not just for me but those I led.
The first of these change steps I learnt was obvious, simple and just plain common sense. However, as we have probably all heard and said at times common sense is not that common!
One: If you want a different result do some different stuff.
Told you it was simple! It has over the years, however, never ceased to amaze me how many leaders and organisations embark on change programmes but just behave and act in the same way. Sometimes these leaders and organisations even fool themselves into believing they are doing different things by setting up new forums with cross functional teams and giving them a fancy title in a demonstration of difference. They may start to talk about new topics or worse, rebadge the same topic they failed to implement last time. The reality is, however, nothing different actually happens and the same old level of change success is obtained.
Change has to start with change and that means different, a paradigm shift, in as many ways as possible: behaviour, language; communication; speed; clarity of purpose; people etc. Let me give you an example in one organisation I led there was a strong trade union power base and they were led by a group of ten senior representatives. Over the years the way the organisation had interacted with this group had varied slightly but fundamentally the ten always faced off to the organisation as one group. So how did the organisation operate? They too had ten leaders to meet the ten representatives. What was the result? The same position of negotiation and impasse, us against them, adversarial relationship. Yet I heard the organisation and the trade union saying they wanted a different result. So why do the same thing? My response as the new incumbent was to meet the representatives alone. Ten of them, one of me, the result was a paradigm shift that created a different response. Yes it took time, but ultimately it started a chain reaction of events that created a different result. That’s obvious I hear you cry. Well only when you are not in the thick of it and you can be objective. You will often hear me say we only know what we know and that often rings true in change.
So the simple message hear for all those embarking on change is if you want a different result then do some different stuff…..oh and by the way difference is not what you have always done in a different wrapper.