Organizations and Change
Organizations play a vital role in our society and in our world. Most positive change in our world occurs within organizations. Today we see the nature of organizations changing. Where people work, how they work, and how they feel about the organizations they work for, is changing. Social consciousness is growing and this is a positive sign. Leaders today need to align their organizations with the planet's needs, rather than simply focusing on financial shareholders and profits. The change before us is unprecedented and will require all of us to rethink how and why we do what we do.
Part of this transformation is a shift in how we design organizations. At Mindshift, we design organizations as communities where people feel safe and free to be themselves, where people can achieve something meaningful based on shared values, and where leaders collaborate with other organizations for social and environmental good. People no longer accept work as some place where they have to compromise their personal values, growth, and development, nor should they.
Bringing about such transformation will require a new level of attention to the external environment and to organizational culture. Such change will require a commitment to deeping self awareness—who we are and our connection to everything around us. We see this happening at companies like Apple and Patagonia, for example, where supply chains and operations are going green, where there are spaces for meditation and mindfulness practice to develop one's self awareness, and where learning is a priority. Change is underway, but we must accelerate the pace and make it possible for everyone to join in.
Organizations continue to face unrelenting waves of change. The amount and compexity has increased. For too many clients, change efforts fail to deliver, and for many reasons. A survey of CEOs regarding business transformation found that nearly 70 percent of organizational change initiatives fail to return expected results (Barriers to Success, © EquaTerra 2007). While this data is dated, my guess is that things are worse today. But why?
When organizations change structurally, humans must transition psychologically. We know that people prefer the comfort of stability and that our first reaction to change is often to resist. Resistance to change may be futile, but it is also human nature. The amount of change we ask people to go through is often unreasonable. Leaders in large organizations face significant complexity, and struggle to understand the amount of change their people are going through. Through all the busyness, leaders often find themselves reacting to change rather than driving change proactively.
The most debilitating driver of failed change initiatives is loss of perspective. Many leaders today simply do not have the clarity required to see what must be done and how best to do it. They are overwhelmed and have not takent the time to debrief, reflect, and renew. Therefore, they have lost perspective.