Thoughts on change

This weekend I asked my friends and family (six participants to be exact) what words came to mind when they thought of change. Here is what they came up with:

WordItOut-word-cloud-669465Image created via: source

Interestingly, most viewed change positively as can be seen from the word cloud above. Some questions that come to mind from these words include:

  • What role do our values play when contemplating change?
  • What kind of processes facilitate effective change?
  • How can one describe the beauty in change for those who see it from this lens?

These are some of the questions I have been reflecting on this weekend. To be continued!

Technology and organizational change

In a recent article titled “Eight steps to achieve sticky change in your organization“, the author notes that the “success rate of change initiatives” (Tencer, 2015) has not changed much over the last two decades. From the author’s perspective, definition and focus are the most important factors needed to realize effective change. Definition is defined in this article as the “act of determining what success looks like at the end of the process” (Tencer, 2015). The author goes on to offer a number of steps to consider during organizational change. One thing that stood to me was the following statement:

Technology is changing our world every day, and it’s not going to slow down to let any of us off the ride. To equip your business for the New Year, adopt one more resolution: understand that change is the new status quo. Embrace it as a fundamental driver of your success. (Tencer, 2015)

With the above statement in mind, an important question to consider is how technology has positively and negatively influenced organizational change? Interestingly, the dominant view appears to be that increased technology will always lead to something better or some kind of progress. Put differently, the idea that advancements in technology are always good for us. I am reminded of a video called Look up that attempts to challenge this notion (within the context of social media). Going back to organizational change, while technology has improved certain aspects of work-life, it may also be worthwhile to critically evaluate how particular technological changes could lead to more harm than good within our specific organizations.

Ignoring the human factor in organizational change

As commonly said, the “definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” (Author unknown). While this quote may seem like an overused cliché, I would argue that within the context of organizational change, there is a lot of truth to this statement.

The video herein claims that over 80% of change programs fail due to the fact that organizations tend to overlook the human factor. No doubt, the human factor is by far the greatest challenge in organizational change for a myriad reasons. I will explore some of these reasons in an upcoming post.

To conclude, I will sign off with these questions. If people are the lifeblood of effective change, why would they be excluded in the first place? In other words, why would the change agents set themselves up for failure? For instance, while employees may show up on time and complete the required tasks, this does not imply that they are fully invested in the work that they do. Is this what employers want? I don’t think so.

Organizational change: disempowered employees

Imagine a work environment of about 28-30 employees where change is happening, the employees are not particularly thrilled with the changes taking place, however, they are hesitant or even almost afraid to voice their concerns to management due to the fact that efforts to raise concerns or offer feedback have been previously dismissed.  On the surface, it seems as if the staff is receptive to these changes for they merely do as they are told.  And yet, through conversations amongst themselves, there is an air of doubt, confusion, disappointment, a loss of motivation and everything else that comes with not having been consulted prior to the development of these changes.

This begs the question, is management completely oblivious to how the vast majority of individuals feel about these changes? In addition, what would it take for management to create a safe space for a much needed dialogue?  Does management even care to create this kind of environment?

While change is inevitable, and change can also be positive or negative depending on the context, I believe that a lack of engagement will usually lead to resistance whether it be overt or covert. In this particular environment, the resistance is undoubtedly covert; and while this kind of resistance may not directly influence the policies that are being imposed upon the staff, there is likelihood that this could lead to a decline of employee loyalty, decreased productivity, less creativity and so much more. From my perspective this is a lose-lose situation for both sides. With that said, as I critically explore this journey of organizational change, I hope that in due time I will receive some insight on how disempowered employees can rise up to challenge the status quo of a system that sucks the life out of them.

Thought provoking quotes on change

Quotes on change that could possibly ignite an engaging conversation:

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers” (M. Scott Peck).

“After an argument, silence may mean acceptance or the continuation of resistance by other means” (Mason Cooley).

“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress” (Charles Kettering).

“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed” (Peter Senge).

“When we see the need for deep change, we usually see it as something that needs to take place in someone else. In our roles of authority, such as parent, teacher, or boss, we are particularly quick to direct others to change. Such directives often fail, and we respond to the resistance by increasing our efforts. The power struggle that follows seldom results in change or brings about excellence. One of the most important insights about the need to bring about deep change in others has to do with where deep change actually starts” (Robert E. Quinn).