Updated: Jul 23, 2018
Much has been written about the obstacles to organisational change, and the particular things that trigger a resistance to change in individuals. Take a step further back though, and we can see that for large enterprises, we need first to evaluate the macro problems rather than the micro issues.
Large and geographically distributed organisations are made up of a very diverse selection of professionals, teams, suppliers, stakeholders and influencers. Depending on their role, their culture, their experience to date and their knowledge base, they will each hold very different views about the organisation. Each will likely have a good understanding of what happens in their own division or business unit, but shift the focus beyond their immediate processes, systems, and knowledge and the picture becomes increasingly loose and incomplete. Worse than that, these people with such different and incomplete views of one another’s departments and roles need to work together to create the best outcomes.
Collaboration is becoming increasingly critical to good results in today’s business environment. Change is happening so fast that it’s rarely possible to establish the full detail of a project’s specifications up front. These have to be evolved over time, to stay aligned to the needs of a changing landscape. This can only succeed where there is a culture of strong, and effective collaboration right across an organisation. There needs to be a clear and shared vision of what change means, and how the outcomes will look. This is at best difficult, and likely impossible, where change is being driven by subjective or status-based opinions that differ across the organisation. Where different disciplines, functions, and business units that are involved in a change cannot relate to each other, solutions will be evasive, fragile and unsustainable.
So where does the answer lie?
1. Seeing the same thing
Much can be achieved through workshops and from leadership style in terms of creating a common vision across an organisation. There is a risk though that these face-to-face interventions have a limited impact where they are not backed up by organisational systems and knowledge bases that underpin that shared view. Sometimes, the obvious and the simple things are overlooked. Everyone needs to be seeing the same thing.
2. Knowing the same thing
It is unlikely that viewpoints and understanding will be aligned if people are approaching an issue with limited or skewed knowledge. A reasoned view of the facts need to be created and shared for everyone involved. Everyone needs to be knowing the same thing.
3. Doing the same thing
To evaluate and respond to progress, it’s essential to work in a transparent environment where an integrated view of activity and outcomes is visible to all. Everyone needs to be doing the same thing.
These are the 3 basic requirements for effective organisational change. With an infrastructure in place that supports the behaviours needed for change, sustainable transformation becomes possible.