Management by Design, Reengineering, Management by Wandering Around, TQM, Excellence, Chaos Theory, Balanced Scorecard, Lean and Mean, Management by Objectives, Empowerment, High-Performance Teams, T-Groups, Quality Circles, and on and on.
One change follows another. One training program follows another. And from each training program, we bounce back to the old ways — or something pretty close. We spend big money to bring in a consultant or training company, we spend a day or two or more learning whatever they're teaching, and then weeks, or months, or a year later, all is forgiven and it's back to business as usual.
Why does this happen? Here are four causes of this pattern and four strategies for achieving lasting results.
- This too shall pass
- When leaders believe in their own credibility, and expect the organization to follow unquestioningly, almost any change is doomed. The most aware among the staff know the futility of embracing enthusiastically anything that will be forgotten within a year.
- We've been down this path so many times that "management fad" is now a legitimate buzz phrase. Acknowledge the failures of the past and deal with skepticism directly.
- Education isn't Change
- When we believe change comes from learning a few facts or skills or theories, change efforts tend to consist of training. But if education were change, with all the diet books in print, by now we would all be the perfect weight.
- Lasting change requires much more than training. One essential item that's usually missing from change efforts is practice. Practice isn't part of training — it's part of doing.
- Resistance comes — in part — from the organization
- We often assume that people choose to stay in Old Status Quo — that if they would just "buy in," all would be well. But culture, policies, procedures, the performance evaluation program, and the actions of others can all cause old behaviors to persist.
- Plan to transform all organizational components that interact with the change. Recognize that you might have to educate some people even though their actual jobs might not be changing.
- To practice, people need slack
- When leaders expect
the organization to
almost any change
- We often expect the newly trained to use what they've learned, at or above the old level of performance, immediately. Worse, we relax the workflow neither for the training nor the practice.
- As we learn new ways, we need to practice them. At first, we might even be less effective than when we do things the old way. Relax the flow of work temporarily to allow people to try the new methods in a less pressured environment.
If you adopt any of these strategies, and if that constitutes change, you'll probably run into a little bounceback. Keep at it. Let yourself practice. Expect others to expect your old ways. And give yourself slack. Top Next Issue
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More articles on Organizational Change:
- Look Before You Leap
- When we execute complex organizational change, we sometimes create disasters. It's ironic that even
in companies that test their products thoroughly, we rarely test organizational changes before we "roll
them out." We need systematic methods for discovering problems before we execute change efforts.
One approach that works well is the simulation.
- Workplace Taboos and Change
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we can choose when to obey them, and when to be more flexible. When we're unaware of them, they can
limit our ability to change.
- On Beginnings
- A new year has begun, and I'm contemplating beginnings. Beginnings can inspire, and sometimes lead to
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- When Fear Takes Hold
- Leading an organization through a rough patch, we sometimes devise solutions that are elegant, but counterintuitive
or difficult to explain. Even when they would almost certainly work, a simpler fix might be more effective.
- Deciding to Change: Choosing
- When organizations decide to change what they do, the change sometimes requires that they change how
they make decisions, too. That part of the change is sometimes overlooked, in part, because it affects
most the people who make decisions. What can we do about this?
See also Organizational Change for more related articles.
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- Narcissistic behavior at work threatens the enterprise. People who behave narcissistically systematically place their own interests and welfare ahead of anyone or anything else. In this Part II of the series we consider the narcissistic preoccupation with superiority fantasies. Available here and by RSS on March 7.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.