I attended an Organizational Change BoF last evening at the AYE conference. Among other things, we talked about why it is that some managers fail to act when there are many signs of big problems.
I see three conditions that are prequisites for change (at any level):
People have to recognize the situation. One person at the group told a compnay that was losing billions, but kept cancelling projects that produced revenue, and funded projects that failed. The problem was obvious to anyone who *could* see. But the senior managers had a mental model of operating as a monopoly, and updated neither their mental models nor their corporate accounting systems. So they didn’t see it.
People have to believe it is possible to change the situation in some way. If people don’t believe it’s possible to change, they are paralyzed. THere are some things can’t be changed, that are out of the sphere of influence or control. People often forget that even when they can’t change external circumstances, they can change their response.
People need to have some idea of how to shift the situation. WHen people have no earthly idea how to shift the situation, they become paralyzed. So paralyzed that they don’t seek help in the form of new ideas or expertise. Or they grasp at the first silver bullet that’s offered (which often makes the situation worse). Or they do nothing.
So how do you create the conditions for change in your organization? Stay tuned. I’ll be blogging about that in the next weeks.