People don’t resist change. They resist being changed!
– Peter Senge
One of my client organizations when began to work at weighing various possible alternatives to fast-swell their growth objectives, the congenital promoter, obsessively pitched for the idea of acquisition. It took sensible time to convince him not to hasten such moves to avoid a disappointing bearing over the already hard-won achievements. Providentially, after collective deliberations for days together, the entire apex team could recognize that any acquisition at that stage would be suicidal for the financial health of the organization. Rather, enterprise-wide business process reengineering was a much more relevant option to sharpen the blunt edges of the organizational systems at that time.
Any failed transformational initiative often offers an occasion to the people to be contemptuous and cynical about the whole thing. A change program usually takes long time and is not an unobtrusive process. With increasing business complexities, change is getting harder. It is exactly like the folklore of elephant and blind men. We all talk about transformation but very few actually know “What it is and How to do it”. Our distinctive choices can be ‘correct’ from our individual perspectives, but characteristically restricted by our inability to apprehend the totality of the truth. My current blog is about Change management. How an episodic approach towards organizational transformation clouds its purpose.
Honestly, I have learnt a lot while working with young entrepreneurs in achieving their growth dreams. Today the difference between winning and losing companies is very obvious and wide. While dealing with many MSMEs in last few years, I have also noticed that most of these companies are extremely short sighted. The unpersuadable attitude and rush to “Manage Today and Now” is almost inconceivable. Awkwardly, this very attitude makes many companies go for a patchy transformational attempt. In majority of companies usually the focus is on the formal structure. I call it as a manifested target. The obvious lines and boxes. Move around some people, reassign or redesign some roles, introduce some random reviews and audit processes, hire some ornamental profiles, engage a top consulting firm to work on some perceived problematic areas, etc. The entire approach is comparative, impervious and overwhelming.
Organizational transformation requires farsightedness. Companies very rarely contemplate to address the ‘structure’ and the ‘form’ by which a business functions. They rarely open-up and dare to change the basic processes and behaviours by which a company drives. It is never initiated with an objective to improve the overall organization’s effectiveness and its ability to achieve its planned business goals. Rather, in most of the cases, it is a felt or perceived need of the promoter that too without adequate participation of all levels of employees. Change is a programed process. It involves all the dimensions of an organization, that is, Strategy, Organization Culture, Organization structure, and Communication. It is an integrated processes. Requires involvement of all stakeholders, taking them on board with an access to similar information and an approved shared purpose of the exercise. Finally, we have to also remember that it is an ever evolving and ongoing process and not a onetime activity.
Let me share few undesired tendencies around unsuccessful transformation attempts:
- When promoters/CEOs decide to initiate the process purely on “feelings” and “perceptions”. Particularly, echoing around selective organizational data confirming their own beliefs or biases.
- When the leadership is forced to initiate such interventions by appointed consultants or legally obligatory external agencies.
- When the entire attempt is unplanned and goes beyond the scope of assumed cost/time budgets.
- When the entire process emerges as intimidating or threatening to people and is handled in a very insensitive manner.
- When organization has many clutches and silos where the concealed conflicts work against the common objectives.
- When expectations and outcomes are vague and execution is equally compromised. When final goal-post is changing very frequently.
- When what is actually intended is not communicated to people. It is very critical that the objectives of the exercise are appropriately conversed to the people across all the levels.
- When the process of reassigning/ realigning roles and positions is not transparent and do not have a strong rational.
- When transformation is considered as one time tonic for all the dysfunctionalities in the system.
- When it is just a lip-service and is used as a contrivance to theatrically enthuse and motivate disengaged people.
In my next post, we will talk about how to go about it.
Till then good bye!