Making Change Work

There's something nostalgic about those old phone booths, but like everything else, the phone has changed. Leaders today manage the business strategy, growth, technology, culture, product and project portfolios, financial reporting requirements, and so much more, and they do this knowing that everything around them is changing. We know change is continuous and ubiquitous, and yet leaders continue to struggle with organizational change. Why?

Structure plays a role. Rigid structure makes organizational change difficult. Design plays a role. Change is not always designed properly, or at all. Some change is based on poor decisions around why or how. Some change is simply not understood from a systems perspective, that is, how it will impact or be influenced by other systems in play. It's also possible that humans are just not that good at designing organizations. After all, the leadership that often designs organizations has little experience in organizational design. How much of an organization's structure exists from evolution rather than design? On the human side of this equation, there is the reality that people are resistant change by nature. People are overwhelmed by too much change happening around them. Too much change is simply not comfortable, and so we see resistance. This is not an exhaustive list, but it shows the complexity of change. It is easy to see why organizational change requires thoughtful design, and someone to lead the effort from start to finish, preferably someone with a deep understanding of organizations and human behavior.

Margaret Wheatley describes an alternative way of looking at organizations and change. In her seminal book, A Simpler Way, Wheatley points out that life is an expert at self organizing. Life self organizes around us without strategic planning offsites. My point is, we over plan and over think a lot of things, and we fail to notice the nature of things. Everything around us is constantly transforming—changing form, and every aspect of an organization is constantly changing as well. Yet, we continue to design inflexible structures within our organizations.

"There is a simpler way to organize human endeavor. It requires a new way of being in the world. It requires being in the world without fear. Being in the world with play and creativity. Seeking after what's possible. Being willing to learn and to be surprised. This simpler way to organize human endeavor requires a belief that the world is inherently orderly. The world seeks organization. It does not need humans to organize it" (Wheatley, 1996, p. 5).

Resistance to change is futile and how we design change matters. One of the best ways to understand and guide change is systems thinking. This way of looking at organizations has been around for a long time, but it was Peter Senge who brought it to the mainstream with his book, The Fifth Discipline. It isn't necessary for our clients to understand change or culture or systems thinking as we do—that's why we exist. We bring these insights to you and we develop such capabilities in your organization. Along the way, we learn together. Many organizations today are overwhelmed with change initiatives. Leaders struggle with balancing the resources for so many initiatives and keeping them on track. At Mindshift Consulting we come to you with a deep understanding of change and organizations.

An organization is a reflection of the values and beliefs of its leadership and members. The degree of congruency between the values and beliefs of an organization's leaders and its members correlates with the power of an organization’s culture. When they are aligned, change is easier. "After working with us, I believe you will see organizations differently. I hope we will get the chance to work with you and make a difference in the future of your organization.

Hans Kuendig, Ph.D., Founder
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