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The Destructive Change Myth: Salute and Execute
Everyone is for it
feels they understand it
thinks execution is only a matter of following natural inclinations feels that problems are caused by other people
Instead of salute and execute, think about ocean waves and how they crash onto the shore, wave after wave, one after the other, changing each other in the process. In a very real sense, this is also how change occurs across an entire enterprise— wave after wave, level after level. This phenomenon is a demonstration of the interrelated dynamics of the Seven Levels (waves) of Living Systems and its Seven Natural Rings of Reality at work. They make this EWC process even more difficult.
The Cascade of Enterprise-Wide Change
The first three waves of change are intra-personal—within an individual—acquiring the knowledge (Wave #1), attitudes (Wave #2), and skills (Wave #3) to adjust to fit the EWC. However, that is just the beginning of the waves of change.
Keep in mind that organizations are systems . . . within systems . . . within systems. How does change really occur? Here are some different waves to think about when dealing with the waves of change:
• Individually (Knowledge—Attitudes—Skills) (Waves #1, #2, #3)
• Level-by-Level Wave (Wave #4)
Middle managers Skilled professionals All other employees
• Unit-by-Unit Wave Small units/sections Functional work teams Cross-functional teams Project/process teams
Wave After Wave of Changes
• Department-by-Department Wave Operations
• Different Subculture Waves Operating business units Ethnic/cultural/linguistic Field locations Social/professional Male/female
• Adversarial Cultures Waves Line versus staff departments Manufacturing versus marketing Headquarters versus field Division versus division Union versus management
This cascade of change (Wave #4) must specifically impact and enlist all the above waves, including all strategic business units, lines of business, operating and geographical divisions, and teams. It must also include all major company-wide support departments such as finance, HR, marketing, and IT.
This is a commonly missed step in EWC and a serious omission. Regardless of the specific vision of the EWC, you must effectively cascade the process to all these units, levels, and waves.
Wave #5: The most challenging level of change in an organization is to change the business processes and overall culture required to support the desired outcomes (see Figure 8.5).
Figure 8.5. Waves of Change in an Organization
Wave #5. Organizational Culture and Processes
Wave #4. Group/Team/Business Unit Behavior
Wave #3. Individual Behavior/Skills
Wave #2. Attitude
Wave #1. Knowledge
When you take into account the complex interactions and relationships among all of an enterprise's subcultures, professional orientations, and physical locations, and then complicate the picture with diversity of language, culture, social, and economic orientations, it is actually a wonder that any Enterprise-Wide Change is successful.
Because an organization is a system with many subsystems (all of which are interconnected and affect one another) and since Systems Thinking requires awareness of the web of interrelationships between the parts, what can change consultants actually do to effectively help leadership change all these subsystems?
There is truth in the maxim "The devil is in the details." The inner workings of the organization as a living system, like the Rubik's Cube, are impossible to enumerate when you try to break them down one-by-one. There are over a trillion possible moves on a Rubik's Cube, and there are probably the same number of relationships within a living, open system like an enterprise.
The only way to successfully deal with these waves and waves of the Rollercoaster of Change is to find the simplicity on the far side of complexity. The Change Leadership Team and change consultants can improve the chances of guiding a positive change if they attend to the key points below. There is no lock-step process in Enterprise-Wide Change:
• Enterprise-Wide Change is a constantly unfolding discovery, creation, and re-creation process that cascades through and across the organization. The
Wave After Wave of Changes
Change Leadership Team will have to continually review and update its EWC Game Plan. This is being flexible and responsive to a changing internal and external environment.
• Expect that emergent strategies and new key initiatives will come up on a regular basis.
• The Systems Thinking approach to living systems tells us that each wave of subsystem change must be planned, discussed, led, and implemented in relationship to other subsystems. The Change Leadership Team must work with those responsible for all these subsystems every step of the way. There is no easy answer—just the guiding concepts and principles of Systems Thinking, including Rollercoaster of Change.