Xv) Inappropriate Treatment Of Change

Change management being treated like

- one-size fits all

- instant coffee

- magic wands

- silver bullets

- cure-all recipes

- magic potions

- management by latest best-seller

- one-night stand, etc

These concepts can result in the application of generic models that are not suitable to a specific organisation, ie selection of an inappropriate model, strategies and tools for the particular organisation and its particular stage of development. For example, it is futile to use techniques such as employee surveys, focus groups and 360 degree feedback to give people the chance to tell management what is wrong, without employees assuming any responsibility for improving matters, ie no buy-in. In these situations, these tools subtly reinforce the view that only management has to the power to fix the problems. Another miscalculation is applying the boom theory of change, ie different models of change are like "freight trains": roaring through organisations

There are increasing numbers of frameworks that claim to be the "perfect fit" for any organisations. There are 2 extremes to this, ie

i) Too specific - these frameworks developed from one, or a couple of, successful organisational change effort. Unfortunately they end up being too specific to a particular organisation at one time

ii) Too general - usually these are based on research into 100s of organisations across a range of cultures to develop a framework that fits everyone. Unfortunately most of these are too general and not specific enough for an individual organisation to find of use.

NB Any framework must be simple, relevant and intuitively understandable while not oversimplifying the complexity of the situation

Sense of urgency, ie do not appreciate the need to change and/or have survived many "near-death experiences" (see Ingredient 2)

Purpose not shared by participants in change

Not recognising that change is a continuous process that requires the "change behaviours and culture" to be anchored in the organisation's culture, such as the painting of Sydney Harbour Bridge (never stops). In other words, treating change management as an event and not as a continuous process

Treating change as a procedural matter rather than as a relearning process

Prematurely declaring victory and underestimating the resistance to change

Too little leadership and too much management, ie under-led and over-managed

Too much complacency which is evidenced by

- lack of leadership and commitment by senior managers

- paying lip service to change, ie using all the right words and phrases, etc

- piecemeal approach and not holistic

- lack of a powerful and guiding coalition to lead the change

- organisation is too successful (market share, profit, etc)

A "no-mistake" environment, ie failure is penalised and punished

"...1 plus 1 equals 4. One mistake, one time, equals for-ever..."

Robert Kriegel et al, 1996

Impact of defensive routines include

- "Learned helplessness" - an attitude adopted by people who feel that they cannot make a difference and that they do not have control over their environment. Staff members become dependent upon management to make all the decisions. As a result, staff do not take initiatives but wait for instructions. Management can encourage learned helplessness by having a "blame culture" and a "command and control" style of leadership.

- Blame culture - it is always somebody's fault and there is consequently a pervasive reluctance to try anything different or new as it might not work. Furthermore, the focus is on the risk that if it does not work, then you will be blamed for the failure, rather than focusing on the benefits of success from the new approach

- too many reasonable reasons/excuses, ie too many excuses not to do something!!!!!!

Organisations that do not learn from mistakes and prefer to blame culprits. Organisations need to encourage staff to face up to failures, refuse to take short cuts and refuse to simplify reality. Organisations need to learn 'to fail forward'

'set-up to fail'- an activity/group is organised but has no chance of success

Lack of willingness for open discussion of difficult, often painful and potentially threatening issues

Change fatigue - too many multiple change projects, eg nearly 2/3 of the Australian organisations surveyed had attempted 16 plus different change projects in the last 2 years. People in this situation speak of feeling disjointed, pushed and pulled from crisis to crisis, of never being allowed to concentrate on or to finish one task before being jerked away onto something new. This has been called

"...future shock " defined at its simplest as too much change in too short a period of time..."

Alvin Toffler as quoted by Helen Trinca, 2006

Too over-confident - over-confidence is generally defined in 1 of 3 ways

i) over-estimation of one's actual performance

ii) over-placement of one's performance relative to others

iii) over-precision, or excessive confidence in one's beliefs

"...Whatever beliefs they hold, people can tend to be too sure that these beliefs are the correct ones. The reason probably has to do with the way we access information from memory and the way the brain is setup..."

Don Moore as quoted by Catherine Fox, 2007h

There are a number of negative consequences of sufferers of over-confidence:

i) not good listeners

ii) do not appreciate and/or learn from feedback (especially negative)

iii) resistant to being corrected

iv) resistant to considering other options and other possibilities

v) unable to share ideas

vi) think that anyone who disagrees with them is incompetent or confused or idiots

vii) usually oversimplify situations

viii) have an egocentric focus that can feed on itself, ie those with the most successful strategies will gain confidence in their ability and this will make them surer of themselves and more confident of their decisions - leading to further overconfidence

ix) people will favour a leader who expresses the most confidence

x) over-confident decision makers tend to make more poorer decisions than others

Over-confident people need someone to act as devil's advocate, ie someone to propose a contrary opinion. However, this role can be particularly dangerous if the over-confident person doesn't value people with different opinions

Some inappropriate management approaches to change include

"...We spring change upon people we about explanation.....and expect them to nod their heads in submissive agreement.

We communicate the change via announcement......rather than by open dialogue.

We perceive resistance as a negative response...... and ignore that it is a legitimate attempt to protect the investment which got us to where we are.

We expect people to buy into our solutions......rather than enlist them to solve their own problems.

We believe the role of management is to make decisions......rather than to lead people towards solutions.

We demand that change occurs immediately......when we know that real, deep, permanent change takes time.

We see people who won't change as the enemy......rather than as proof that we haven't made the case for change.

We insist that change can occur without error......when we know that learning any new skill may involve initial failure.

We believe that people always resist change...... when we know for a fact that people embrace huge personal change and only resist those changes we attempt to force upon them.

Even though our change projects fail, we resist changing how we implement change, finding it easier to blame those who resist how we implement change..."

Peter de Jager, 2010


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