Tuesday, 13 November 2007

The answer to myth 11: Vision for change needs to come from the top and cascade down

I don’t know whether ‘it needs to’ or whether it just happens to be the observable norm. It really depends on the use you make of the word ‘vision’. If your vision is something close to the ultimate managerial clairvoyance only hosted on the executive floor, then… well, it may cascade down. I think the main reason why an executive floor is at the top of the building is so the cascading down of the vision takes place with the full use of the forces of gravity! If vision is a clear point of destiny, then there is no point expecting this to come from the Post Room (and this is not a judgement about the ability of people in the post room to have a vision).

If your view of vision is more one of directions that can be refined, can grow, can benefit from the ‘none of us is smarter than all of us’ philosophy, then Viral Change is something you’ll be very comfortable with. Viral Change creates waves of infections and emergent tipping points. Allowing for (real) distributed leadership means that there is no ‘pre-defined final outcome’ (a scary thought for those in the command and control arena), but unpredictable, non-linear and potentially incredibly better outcomes.

In Viral Change, initial vision may come from the top leadership itself but it doesn’t follow the forces of gravity. Oh horror! How do I know that people are going in the right direction and aren’t drifting? Well, get involved! You are defining the non-negotiable behaviours and therefore you are the master of those hot topics. If they are reinforced as planned, you’ll have an incredibly hi-fi machine. At which point, ‘the top’ as a geographical signpost becomes irrelevant.

If you want to read more about Viral Change, or want to revisit some of the other myths, you can read it all again in my book of the same title: Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations

No comments: