Many managers and change consultants advocate holistic and collaborative approaches to change. Typically they use phrases such as;
“cultivating a change culture” or
“empowering people to change” or
“advocating change to allow its benefits room to breathe and grow.”
I agree with, and prefer to work to, the values and techniques implied in these phrases, where organisations have the time and an aptitude for collaborative change. However, it doesn’t always work this way.
I have recently been sensing that UK organisations are trapped in the Denial-Frustration-Depression phase of the change curve. I have not seen any real level of experimentation and the decisions that are announced seem to focus on short term “salami slicing” of old models. Too much of that behaviour usually leads to an under resourced system with no chance of delivering the scope of it’s objectives.
This lack of progress could mean that UK plc. feels it is running out of time and may turn to more authoritarian, directive measures to change organisations perceived to be in crisis. Local authority leaders seem to be signposting this as a possible outcome in a Guardian newspaper article this month.
If a crisis state becomes the norm, organisational change behaviour could then default to something more like the Lewin Schein model of Unfreeze – Learn – Refreeze, where the Learn stage is simply a set of top down instructions for middle management to cope with. i.e. A more authoritarian approach to change.
Are UK organisations and their managers really behaving like this? If so, I think it could be a lost opportunity for real improvement in the next few years.
So, how do you approach change projects? Do you work through a structured set of actions to encourage staff along the change curve, or leave it to the last minute and push change through as quickly as possible?
Have a great week.
About the Author: Adam Blackie is a writer and a professional Interim Manager who leads information management teams through their change programmes. He works with organisations in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.