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Your organisation's culture and transitional team's capabilities are the critical driving forces in the transitional process. Sometimes there is limited control of these factors and the future is unpredictable. A series of questions will help the people understand the change initiative

  1. What are you trying to accomplish?
  2. What is your deadline?
  3. What new skills and capabilities will be required and how will people have to change to make the new approach work?
  4. Will enough people change? (Can a "critical mass", enough to make a difference, adopt the new behaviours in time to meet the deadline?)
  5. Will people talk openly?  If people have doubts or concerns, can they raise those issues?  Or will they be undiscussable?

If you are unsure about your answers to the above questions, especially the last 2, consider the 4 possible outcomes that are summarised below

 

change_initiative

Outcome 1 full steam ahead; a critical number of people change in time and openly discuss the need for change to behaviour (including their own behaviours), ie talk about it.  The ability to meet a deadline depends on how quickly and effectively the new behaviours and practices percolate through your organisation

Outcome 2 - life boat: people are paying lip service to the change.  These people see the need to change but are not changing.  Tough decisions need to be made about the future of these people in the organisation

Outcome 3 - pockets of success; people change their behaviours but are not willing to talk openly about changes they are making.  There is a lot of investment in learning but no one is interested in learning from each other

Outcome 4 - authoritarian command and control; people don't change in time and have not got the capability or trust for open conversation. Success depends upon the competency of authority. Will the senior executives recognise the organisation's needs, and direct an appropriate response? Can they do it in a benevolent and intelligent fashion? Will others implement their demands?

As the future unfolds, a combination of the 4 outcomes could unfold. By preparing yourself for these 4 scenarios, you are preparing yourself for the future. In Outcome 1, what kinds of initiatives would be most productive to try first? What kind of training might people need or request?

It Outcome 4, who will be in positions of authority? What types of help and support will they need?

The two intermediate outcomes (lifeboat and pockets of success) are most likely unsustainable. For example, in Outcome 2 if people figure out how to talk about the issues involved, they will lead into Outcome 1; otherwise they will drift towards authoritarianism.

Identifying some of the early indicators will help you anticipate the future outcomes.

(source: Art Kleiner, 1999)

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