Enterprise Change Management w Organizational Agility as Strategy

I recently met Tim Creasey, who facilitated two days worth of advanced change management certification workshops, a change summit and round table discussions for The Minnesota Change Management Kakie Fitzsimmons and Tim Creasey during Prosci Advanced change management workshopNetwork. We had rich discussions about the past, present and future of Enterprise Change Management and Organizational Agility as a strategy.

On the first day, an executive breakfast was held at Target Corporation where Tim broke down change management as a capability into four eras that included pre-1990’s, 1990’s, 2000’s and 2012 and beyond. He then went on to discuss the topic of Organizational Agility as a Strategic Imperative. He presented different definitions of agility, along with the many pillars various enterprises use to build agility in institutions along with the diverse ways they think about what it means to be agile. A huge take away was a shared concept of thinking about agility as a state of being.

One good question that Tim asked was “How many projects in your organizations impact just one area?” Of course, the response from the crowd was laughter and then our small groups led to rich discussions about complexity that encompasses market volatility, increased amounts of information and communication, varying levels of leadership commitment, how are changes triggered, launched and funded, different ways change is governed and whether it is integrated into an organizations governance structure, we talked about ways to find the pockets of support that can exist in organizations, change and project methodologies, maturity and application of change and project management, deciphering and translating how different leaders are interpreting what the same change means for them.

In Enterprise Change Management, we integrate change into projects, programs and across releases, which means there are three very important words to take in context when working to obtain executive buy in.

  1. Context_Gap_between_what_Project_&_Change_Management_DeliverContext – the way we have conversation about change management should be relevant to that person, so when we tell a story it must be in a context that matters to them. This is why it is essential to have the ear and attention of executive sponsors early in the process, because how they are processing what the change means is critical to the way we will work with them. It is easy to say that we focus on the people side of change, but that means different things to a lot of people. Employee engagement? Morale? Training? Communication? While all of those factors may be important to senior leaders, it will mean more when we stay focused on their desired outcomes that demonstrate what we deliver, how we will integrate change to ensure it is sustainable so realization of benefits will add value to the organization. ROI, results, etc. All of this context is important because according to Prosci’s annual benchmarking research on change, the greatest overall contributor to project success is active and visible sponsorship.
  2. Language – How we talk about change and how we tell the story of change management matters, so we need to make it a point to understand the language used in the organization. Many will agree that using too much “change management terminology,” (academic or otherwise), or throwing change curves in front of people results in that look where eyes are suddenly glossed over and we have lost them.
  3. Problems – It is essential to have clarity in understanding the problem they are trying to solve, because if we are there, it isn’t that they don’t have change management. What is their expected return on the initiatives? The killer questions of what the Return on Investment (ROI) % will depend on how change behaviors are adopted by people in ways that will make it sustainable.

Monitoring and measuring people change and organizational change is different, so it is imperative we create sponsor road maps and use them as guides to remind sponsors, steering committees and our change networks how to scan the environment, maintain awareness of who takes action during each project phase. These road maps also will be a coaching to for how to identify, address and correct resistance. They will lay out tools to build individual competencies for Executives, Senior Leaders, Middle Managers and Supervisors as well as Front-Line employees. It is critical to pair that with ensuring consistent messaging, from the right sources at the right time.

Standing in the Future.”

Tim asked to imagine that three years from now we have been identified as the most change competent organizations in our industry. In small groups we wrote and shared short descriptions of what we would see if we walked around in our environments at that time and the descriptions were positioned as “We statements.”

Some of the comments I heard when we shared as a larger group included the following

  1. We have a change management capability in and across organizations
  2. We have change and project management capabilities that are mature and aligned
  3. We value creativity and innovation as part of the change management capability
  4. We have dedicated change resources and change management curricula that leads to career paths
  5. We create our own future and are empowered to make decisions and innovate
  6. We know how to help leaders position the change in ways that get all people impacted by the changes excited because they understand what is in it for them
  7. We partner with sponsors and steering committees as a unified team to drive the change
  8.  We have transparency where people have permission to speak with candor without fear of retribution
  9. We have robust data about feedback to people and performance
  10. We are using common language
  11. We have increased adoption and minimal resistance to change
  12. We celebrate success

It was a great session and a pleasure to meet Tim and his team. We look forward to having him visit again!

Tim Creasey is Chief Innovation Officer at Prosci and the has played a key role in developing extensive research, methodology and capturing best practices as the lead analyst for many of the Prosci benchmarking studies.  Tim is a dynamic international speaker and thought leader on the topic of change management. He is also author of “Change Management: The People Side of Change.”

Do you have additional “We” statements you would add? Please leave any thoughts or comments below and thanks for visiting my blog!

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Forming the Basis for Revolutionary Change in Organizations

Many of our traditional business system models have evolved out of the industrial age and are no longer relevant. As a result, we need to adjust paradigms towards a new way of thinking. We will refer to this new thought process as the “emerging mindset“.

Today’s businesses are in a constant state of flux, adjusting in ways that entail combinations of reacting to unplanned fires blended with strategic planning. The external economic atmosphere is changing so fast that often, internal environments are unable to keep up, making organizations complex and more vulnerable than ever. Our world has seen intense progression in technology as of late, pushing us into a mode of hyper-connectivity, creating new open global capital market economies and new business models, impacting internal and external environmental factors in organizations. As a result, many businesses that were in place five or even ten years ago have ceased to exist. Many organizational  cultures are in the midst of punctuated equilibrium we refer to as Revolutionary Change as they attempt to seek the right amount of stability. 

The emerging mindset will need to constantly scan what is happening on the outside, monitor the expectations of behavior complexity, maintain alignment of strategic direction and plan how to begin the momentum in ways that get everyone participating and excited about a new vision for the future. The new mindset will need to continue asking what can be done differently and whether anything is being missed. The consequences of not doing so have far reaching implications. 

Factors Involved in Revolutionary Change

Revolutionary change happens when something shakes an organization, presenting a clear need for a major overhaul, which will change the culture because the enterprise will never be the same again. Revolutionary and constant, accelerating change are not the same thing because accelerating change evolves. (Hence the term, evolutionary change). Revolutionary change is not linear or constant. It is chaos that disturbs the organization and leads to reshaping of its culture. Examples could include an unforeseen crisis, a merger or acquisition, new leadership comes in and changes business models and structure of organizations change, which may involve the process of forming a new vision and mission.

The emerging mindset would view revolutionary change as an opportunity for all people impacted by the change to provide input so they feel they are part of the process and are building a future together.  The way the change is led will set the tone inside and outside of organizations. When entities shift, it takes place in a context that surrounds human capital, which means the ways people respond in different environments are not predictable and how individuals interact individually and collectively will vary. It will be essential to observe social systems across many groups with varied norms. Radical change will introduce a broad array of issues that include managing resistance and emotions. The emerging mindset needs to keep in mind that employees have their own external factors they bring to work with them every day. Some of these issues could involve financial challenges, family conflict, supporting young children, caring for aging parents, striving to find the appropriate work life balance, and more.

Table 1 Systems affecting employee powerSystems affect employee power[i] because human capital has a broad array of needs and wants. (See table 1). Enterprises consist of one or many social systems with established rituals and decision making processes. The executive intellect will establish the climate for all of the relationships that go in, out and through the organization and feedback will come from it. That creates a framework and is an ecosystem by itself.

Revolutionary change presents opportunities to re-evaluate effectiveness and configuration within an organizations deep structure of each division as well as the human capital that adds the most value. The talented emerging mindset realizes this is the time to capitalize on that and build social bridges by understanding who are the connectors, mavens or salespeople.[ii]

The emerging mindset will determine how to respond through the constant tension across technology, operations and sales.

Strategies to prevent negative entropy will be a factor. How will the company entice, inspire and maintain talent to include a broader definition that is a blend of five areas that combine compensation, benefits, work-life balance, performance and recognition along with development and career potential?[iii] How these issues are addressed and presented to members in the enterprise will set the tone for employee morale, attitudes and momentum towards the vision. Communication must remain open, linking to organizational structure and culture while understanding that at the center is the emerging mindset, its capabilities and abilities. It will be important to pay attention to that context, not ignoring frustrations and encourage mentor, mentee relationships because organizational change is not a linear process. (p282)

Forces Interact to Impact Open Systems

The emerging mindset personality, how they are perceived, how they receive information, interact with others and communicate change will establish how those in the organization will be impacted and adjust. Revolutionary change begins with considering the system as a whole and examining each individual part. When something in an organization changes such as processes, policies, procedure or structure, a few parts will evolve and others will eventually be affected. It is imperative the emerging mindset know how to position and communicate revolutionary change. Planning for radical change requires mapping out thoughtful messaging by understanding how the past is affecting the present and what the future will look like. It creates a story and will help all in the organization have context for the vision.

Emerging mindsets will understand the inputs, outputs and feedback that will come by scanning the social and political landscape to deepen relationships by understanding what is important to employees in ways that are authentic, and lead with that. While rewards may be one component of revolutionary change, an article by Luthans and Stajkovic, demonstrates reinforcing behavior for results is more successful than pay for performance[iv].   The emerging mindset can leverage this information to take swift action, then develop and point workers in the direction of the vision. Empowering workers to make good business decisions will help them feel more creative and part of the solution. When this occurs the result is more involvement and increased commitment.  As employees go through change, leader behavior will be observed as well, so being centered and doing self-examination by paying attention to one’s own emotional intelligence and moral compass because they will play an important role.

The goal and vision must be clear, direction understood and messaging consistently repeated.  Announcements, communications and series of events should create a sense of urgency and be thoughtfully introduced with a tone of optimism that can get employees excited. Forming strong advisory coalitions for each division in an organization with subject matter experts will demonstrate a sense of order and that the work is already underway. If resources feel they have input towards the intended outcome and are part of the solution, buy-in could occur with minimal disruption. Response will also tend to be favorable if there is a way to celebrate, create rituals, establish norms and provide enterprise wide sensitivity or change management seminars facilitated by a 3rd party. Bringing people together from different areas creates open source opportunities where ideas merge and new knowledge is formed.

Governance, departments, groups and individuals have power. Systems interact with their atmosphere, but the process of organizational change originates and winds up in the hands of the external environment. A system’s ability to thrive and survive is dependent on it.

Next: The Emerging Mindset – Revolutionary Change

Do you have thoughts, questions or comments about this kind of change? Please leave a comment below and thanks for visiting my blog!

[i] Luthans, F., & Stajkovic, A. D. (May 01, 1999). Reinforce for Performance: The Need to Go beyond Pay and Even Rewards. The Academy of Management Executive (1993-2005), 13, 2, 49-57.

[ii] Gladwell, M. (2000). The tipping point: How little things can make a big difference. Boston: Little, Brown.

[iii] Forrester, R. (August 01, 2000). Empowerment: Rejuvenating a Potent Idea. The Academy of Management Executive (1993-2005), 14, 3, 67-80.

[iv] World at Work: Total Rewards Model. pp. 1-8. 2008. World at Work, (8 pages).

The Emerging Mindset – Revolutionary Change

The purpose of this post is to explain the four cornerstones of an emerging mindset that would form the basis for determining a revolutionary change in an organization.[i] We define the term “emerging mindset”  as a series of assumptions held by collective intelligence in an organization that embraces new ways of thinking. The emerging mindset has four cornerstones which include

CONSCIOUSNESS IS CAUSATIVE: Emotional and social dynamics are part of organizations and when change is introduced, this lens becomes more pronounced. Leadership must set the tone focusing on communication strategy and messaging with a sense of urgency that is optimistic and gets people excited about opportunities. The way change will be planned, introduced and positioned is critical and this process should include explaining the following:

  • What needs to change
  • Why it needs to change and the impacts to people
  • Address anxiety with transparency and enthusiasm
  • Paint a clear picture of what the outcome will look like
  • How results will tie to rewards

ABUNDANCE: This is where energy, inputs, throughputs and outputs are constant and required in order for the organization to remain sustainable. Often, this activity is a good tool to reassure employees that extensive planning has taken place to ensure the company has the resources to carry out the change successfully.

RELATIONSHIP AND WHOLENESS: This takes into consideration that the system has moving parts within it, all of which are interrelated, making up more than the sum of the parts.

CONTINUOUS PROCESS: All of the forces, progression and processes are constant

Industrial and Emerging Mindset Comparicson Revolutionary ChangeBurke explains revolutionary change as an unexpected event or activity which makes it clear a new mission, vision and strategy of a business are imminent. This accelerated change could be a form of punctuated equilibrium, which occurs between long periods of the being in steady state and requires a call to action in order for the enterprise to survive. Examples of revolutionary change might include a spin-off, merger, acquisition or significant alteration in the organization’s products or services. It could also be the result of an economic episode similar to the events of 09/11 or the market downturn of 2008.

My next blog post will discuss details about forming the basis for revolutionary change and how emerging mindset influences interact to impact open systems.

Do you have thoughts, questions or input? Please leave a comment below and thanks for visiting my blog!

[i] Burke, W. W. (2008). Organization change: Theory and practice. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

Things Change, People Transition: Change as a Process

In general, change isn’t complicated, but it is complex. In its simplest form we use terms like; to alter, shift, adjust, move, switch, transfer, etc. Change is a transformation or transition from one phase, condition, or state, to another.

From a change management perspective, assumptions that each individual impacted by a new initiative will always experience change on time, on budget and on schedule, is flawed, because this approach lacks context and doesn’t always consider the people side of change. It may not consider outcomes and results after the change or ask what behaviors need to change and be sustained. Organizational and personal change have to be approached and measured differently because people embrace or resist change differently. No two are alike.

Organizational and personal change have to be approached and measured differently because no one will embrace or resist change the same. Individual Response to Change Management BestBehavior doesn’t happen in a predictive order and as a result, it is imperative to think about change as a process, rather than a project.

Things change. People transition.

The change curve was created in the 1960’s by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross as a way to explain the grieving process. Over time, it has evolved as a tool to help people understand responses and reactions to significant change. Since change is a non-linear process, some people may take two steps forward and one step back along this curve for a number of reasons. Some examples might include:

  • Assumed or no role clarity for the change
  • No visible support and commitment from leadership
  • Lack of project, organizational and individual change integration
  • Those impacted do not feel they have had input into the process
  • Leaders and/or impacted people are not engaged
  • No consistency in change messaging formats, channels and frequency
  • Lack of transparency about why the change is happening
  • People impacted don’t understanding of “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM)
  • Business readiness or training may have limited or no understanding of adult learning theory application
  • People don’t feel permission to speak with candor
  • Past performance with organizational change could create assumptions that history will repeat itself
  • Impact on current role and/or fear of losing a job

There are countless strategies and tools we can use to help us to understand where people fall on the change commitment curve and then subsequent strategies to take corrective action. As change management practitioners, we focus on results, outcomes, reinforcement and realization of benefits (including ROI), for the people side of change. We do this using a structured, yet flexible set of tools, processes, skills and principles to achieve the required goals of projects and initiatives.

What challenges and approaches have you experienced or used to help bring people impacted by the changes along for the journey?

Please leave a comment below. I’d like this blog to be a forum where people feel comfortable sharing what they agree or disagree with along with best practices or key learnings. I will honor desired anonymity, so if you would like to leave a response without having your name listed, please feel free to let me know.

If you found this post thought provoking, please share it with others and thank you for visiting my blog!

Individual and Organizational Change Management Integration Plan

Individual and Organizational Change Management Integration Plan

The complexity that accompanies change and the process that goes along with it means different things to different people. As a result, we must view change through two lenses of individuals and organizations  because they are parts of a complex system. This intricacy blends art, science, culture, inputs, outputs, feedback, leadership, strategy, governance, competency, internal and external forces, change impacts, individual needs and values, management practices, change activities, skills, communications planning and more.

Convergence, the concept that there are always many ways to get to the same result, is a reality when we are creating strategic plans for new endeavors. Good change leadership involves anticipating how we will navigate potential impacts to individuals, teams and organizations collectively because they are inextricable. Assessments and coaching tools are available which can help us in performing readiness temperature checks, identifying potential pockets of resistance and understanding where people are on the change curve so we can determine appropriate action plans.

The three-phased Prosci® approach in the diagram is an example of a tool that I like to use with leadership early in the process because it clarifies the mystery of change management. It illustrates that we have a structured approach to managing people (teams, and organizations), processes and technology from a current state towards the program’s desired future state. In addition, it builds off of previous posts where we examined using Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement (ADKAR®) as a tool for gaining commitment from individuals to increase adoption. It is also tied to how we implement strategic engagement by partnering with the PM and Senior Leaders to integrate change management into the project plan. This is important because according to Prosci’s annual benchmarking research on change[1], the greatest overall contributor to project success is active and visible sponsorship

There are countless templates, tools, and approaches used by Change Management Practitioners everywhere. It is important to me that this blog is a forum where people feel comfortable sharing what they agree or disagree with along with best practices or key learnings. As a result, below are some questions I invite you to answer:

  1. What approaches (good, bad or indifferent) have you taken that integrate changes experienced by people and organizations and what did you learn from it?
  2. What approaches have you observed and what did you think about it?

I look forward to hearing from you, if you found value in reading this post, please share it with others. Thanks for visiting my blog!

I will honor desired anonymity, so if you would like to leave a response without having your name listed, please feel free to let me know!

Engagement: Integrating Change Management with Project Plans

Change Management and Project Plan IntegrationFocusing on the people side of change is arguably one of the most important tasks as we begin phase one of preparing for a change initiative. In early phases of a project, we are seeking to understand the nature of the change and preparing the organization for it. Exceptional change management works when we partner with leadership to ensure timely and consistent messaging, early and often.

According to Prosci’s annual benchmarking research on change, the greatest overall contributor to project success is active and visible sponsorshipAs facilitators’ of the change, we have the unique opportunity to bring sponsors along on the journey at this point, so they understand why their role is critical in mitigating resistance, driving uptake and ensuring positive end-user adoption. We also can provide them with coaching and tools needed to carry out their roles throughout the change process.

As we move towards phase two, managing the change, we need to think about how we are going to engage the project manager for discussion to integrate change deliverables and change activities into the project plan. Building rapport starts with laying out the process of how we will prepare for, manage and reinforce the changes. It is the perfect way to set up role clarity and frame desired outcomes; while ensuring a shared vision.

What is your integration approach in partnering with the project manager for these discussions? Please join the conversation and share your best practices below. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Advanced Change Certification Opportunity in Minnesota – Feb 18-19th

Advanced_Change_Management_OpportunityI am excited about a rare opportunity I wanted to share with my readers. February 18th & 19th, the Minnesota Change Management Network (MNCMN) is hosting a once in a lifetime chance for anyone interested in the people side of change, to participate in conversations, hear and share best practices and receive training about navigating advanced change management at the enterprise level.
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MNCMN is bringing in Global Change Management Thought Leader, Tim Creasey, to host advanced change management certification workshops through Prosci®. Below are high-level details and a link for more details about the agenda and how to register. 
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February 18th & 19th Professional Development Days Agenda:
1. A conversation about the current state of Organizational Agility as Strategy (Executive Breakfast)
2. Creating a roadmap for building an organizational change management capability (Roundtable)
3. Building a business case for change management (Change Summit)
4. Building organizational agility through enterprise change management (Advanced Workshop)
5. Creating a change scorecard (Advanced Workshop)
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For more information, visit the Minnesota Change Management Network Website and select “events.”
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I hope to see you there!

Individual Change Commitment for Increased Adoption

Some days I have a “love-hate” relationship with blogging because it isn’t a clean, cut and dry process. Although I have an idea of what I want to write, it takes time to figure out how to put the words together.

Bird by Bird,” a book about writing by author Anne LaMott, contains a brilliant piece called; “Shitty First Drafts” (SFD) where she explains why the first draft we write is always the worst. It is usually longer than it needs to be, it may not flow well, etc. Towards the end of this excerpt, she states; “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something — anything — down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft — you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft — you fix it up.

In her book “Rising Strong,” Brene Brown applied Anne’s concept of SFD to our behaviors, which I believe could be an interesting application in change management resistance. For Brown, an SFD is the first story we make up in our heads before we have all the information needed to be pragmatic about the real story. When we realize we have an SFD, she recommends asking ourselves other questions such as:

  • What do I know objectively?
  • What more do I need to learn and understand about the other people in the story?ADKAR Individual Change Commitment Progress
  • What more do I need to learn and understand about myself?

The concept of an SFD as applied by Brown aligns with how people handle change individually in the workplace. When we are in phase 1: preparing for change, collaborative conversations center around outcomes so we have a clear definition of what successful change will look like for organizations and individuals. During this time, we identify change qualities, assess the organization, integrate change into the project plan, select a change sponsorship model and more.  This post focuses Prosci’s individual change management model, ADKAR® which is an acronym based on the five building blocks for change that include:

  • AWARENESS of the need to change
  • DESIRE to participate in, and support the change
  • KNOWLEDGE of how to change (and what the change looks like)
  • ABILITY to implement the change on a day-to-day basis
  • REINFORCEMENT to keep the change in place

This model is linear and there are tools to assess where people fall in the commitment process. Our goal is to make sure end users have to tools to effectively adopt, embrace and reinforce the change so the behavior is sustained post go-live.

It is important to note that there will be groups and people who will move up the change commitment level at different strides, and in various ways. The right coaching plan roadmaps will be a great tool to guide sponsors and stakeholders so they are mentored differently to ensure message positioning is coming from the right channels and gets everyone excited. Increased adoption occurs when each group understands the current and future state, the business need for the change, how they will be impacted and what is in it for them to incorporate the new behavior(s), etc.

Please share stories, challenges or remedies you have used to deal with resistance to change.

If you would like to remain anonymous, just let me know in your post and I will be sure to honor that. Join the conversation and thanks for visiting my blog!

Circles of Meaning

Once in a while, I like participating in the “Weekly Photo Challenge” over at The Daily Post. A new meme comes out each Friday and I think about the proposed topic. I wonder what I could say about it and what my readers will be interested in as well. This week, Cheri asks us to let a shape, a circle, inspire us.

Circles Change Management Business TimeI took this picture at the James J. Hill Business Library because it had a certain old world charm that grabbed my attention. I like the concept of time as it relates to the evolution of knowledge throughout the ages.

Circles have been used metaphorically since the beginning of history. In many cultures, they represent unity, enlightenment, divinity and protection. At first glance, a circle can seem simple, yet they are one of the most common and universal signs used throughout history of the world.

Circles have symbolic use in divinity: For example, with Taoism the Yin Yang image embodies two forces in the universe that are opposites that balance one another. Hinduism uses the Dharma Chakra to represent the wheel of law that leads to enlightenment. Artists have used halos in Christianity and Buddhism to symbolize light and holiness. Paganism circles exemplified supernatural forces, and in ancient times Celtics stood inside of circles for protection.

Circles are symbols of inclusiveness, wholeness and eternity because the continuous line characterizes something with no beginning and no end.  They also represent completion or “coming full circle,” as in starting where one began. Circles often remind us about the cycles of life, years, seasons, days, minutes, hours and of course, TIME.

In business we use circles in many ways. In meetings, we sit in circles, in flow charts, circles show beginning or ending of processes, we move in cycles from centralizing to decentralizing something away from or to something else. We also assume many things in business happen in linear patterns, which is not the case. A circle could be a way to make the case for this.

In change management, we can think about circles as cycles of behavior. We evaluate and measure individual change differently than organizational change because successful organizational change happens when individuals deliver and sustain the new behavior.  Our focus is to change old ways of thinking by providing various levels of coaching guides and tools for leadership, Circles of Concern Influence Change Controlstakeholder and sponsors during different stages of projects.

We provide assessments to mitigate resistance to change because we understand that behaviors happen in cycles or patterns. One example of many, might be to leverage Steven Covey’s “Circles of Influence” model (where appropriate) for conversation about what we control, influence and have concerns about.

When we integrate change management with project management, studies have proven it leads to higher levels of success such as increased in adoption rates and sustaining of new behaviors.

Are there other ways you see circles used as symbols in business, project and change management? I’m looking forward to having you join the conversation.

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Gathering

GatheringOver at The Daily Post, the theme for this week’s weekly photo challenge is posed by Krista, who asks us to document a gathering and share our interpretation of it.

Consider the different ways we can think about the word; Gathering as in material things we can see and touch. Gathering as in knowledge or information we get from various sources. Gathering as in symbolic ritual like celebrations or at places of worship. Gathering as in shared experiences like school plays or concerts. Gathering as in complex systems, where everything is related to everything else. Many may argue that there are interdependencies and that  we can’t refer to one type of gathering without taking into account all the others.

Regardless of the kind of “gathering” we refer to, each person gets to decide which definition (singularly and collectively) is the most important to them.

In life we gather things that we don’t get to take with us when we leave this world.

At work, we gather reports and data. We gather at meetings or to network.

In change management, gatherings are significant because they are considered as a type of symbolic ritual that can help bring a group of people together and move them through transition, from one stage to another.

In communities, we gather to celebrate, to educate, to worship, to grieve, and to share experiences.

Mentally we gather knowledge and information.

Emotionally we gather our thoughts.

At home, we gather as families to make sense of this world. We come together to teach, learn, share, grieve, grow, pray, laugh and to love. We create memories and meaningful experiences that leave legacies.

Do your organizations use the concept of “gathering” as a symbolic tool to move people through change? My wish for you; may your gatherings bring significance to whatever is important in your personal and professional lives.

Please feel free to share your thoughts below and thanks for visiting my blog!

Ritual, Change and Weisbord’s Future Search Conference

Change_Management_Strategy_RitualOrganizational change creates unavoidable uncertainty, resistance and chaos. Systems thinking can help in identifying negative consequences and to achieve positive outcomes. But the impact of transformation requires looking at people, groups and the larger system[1]. By taking this approach, organizations can build change coalitions with employees at all levels. In times of uncertainty it is essential that everyone has the opportunity to provide input and feel empowered to make decisions.[2]

Formal rites of passage or rituals are important and often an overlooked tool to overcome these challenges. Rituals build culture, strengthen relationships and are particularly important for acknowledging challenges, celebrating wins or forging new paths. In times of change, stakeholders often need a way to declare it is time to say goodbye to the old way of doing things because there is no turning back. The idea of farewell as a process can pave the path towards embracing a shared vision for moving forward. Future Search Conference is one example of a tool that can help to successfully facilitate this process.

 

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Transition – Defining “Between”

Transitions - Adapting to ChangeToday’s post is about “between,” which comes in many forms. It made me consider the various ways we process and deal with change. Regardless of its application (professional, emotional or personal), the techniques for recognizing and approaching transition differs for each of us.

Sometimes it flows and feels natural, as captured in the photo for this post. A young man who is between testing for his next belt level in karate and receiving a new status because he is ready and has done the work. He has practiced to learn the movement and techniques with precision and accuracy, and he knows that along with his sense of accomplishment come confidence and the long term rewards that follow.

In graduate school, we are taught that we should expect resistance when it comes to change in the workplace. Opposition is a natural part of the process during transformation and frequently rears its head when people do not understand why change is necessary, or there is not consistent support, repetition and communication of the messaging.

OD experts explain there are symbolic rituals necessary for organizational change that brings everyone along, so they feel as though they are part of the process and have input to the outcome. It is a blueprint that incorporates the right guidance systems so human capital can collectively take a step back, acknowledge their current reality, say goodbye to the old way of doing things while working together to build a future. [1] (Kanter, 2008) The change will be more successful when all stakeholders understand their roles, contribution and call to action.

In our personal lives, navigating transition is more complex because not everyone is given the coping mechanisms for recognizing and dealing with change in healthy ways.

When it comes to how we work through transformation as individuals, there are times when we need to sit with discomfort and uncertainty for a bit as part of our reflection. Often our experience can provide answers and this world is one full of endless possibilities. Although there is a school of thought that might agree it is easier to give help than to ask for it, leveraging our support system is a resource we cannot ignore.

Discomfort is healthy when it motivates us to use our courage and move towards something better. Transition can be the beginning of something exciting and new that will provide opportunities to grow, learn, unlearn, re-think, re-learn, heal, innovate and re-invent.

Awareness of our own resistance to change could come in the form of anxiety, physical discomfort, fear, anger, sadness, insecurities, etc. In time, we learn the best way to overcome any of that is to get input, learn from it and then practice new behaviors until they feel normal.

Someone I know spent a great deal of time trying to work through a process like this. He shared what worked for him while he was struggling. His solutions are below.

Write down the following and reflect on the questions below, one at a time:

  1. “Yes, this change is hard.” (Make a list of what makes it hard for you)
  2. “How can I objectively examine the pros and cons of this situation?
  3. What part of my fear is getting in the way?
  4. How can this experience be my teacher?
  5. What can I do to move forward?

Once those issues had been examined, he found a trusted source to share it with that we will call “his people.” The ones he knew would not judge, give uninvited advice, or try to fix him or the situation. A trusted resource who would just listen. “His people” are the ones who have earned the right to hear his stories. It took practice, but it was amazing to see how the consistency of repeating the action over and over helped him grow.

So if you are finding yourself “between” something and are feeling in transition, perhaps his process could work for you as well. And who knows, you just may be happy you did. Thanks for visiting my blog, share your story or ask questions below, I’d love to hear from you!

[1] Kanter, R.M. (2008). Transforming giants. Harvard Business Review, 86(1), 43-52.

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The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Prompt. Danielle Hark of Broken Light Collective challenges us to photograph between. This week, capture something between two things, reflect on the process of transition, or interpret this word in your own way.

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