Thursday, 15 November 2007

The answer to myth 12: After change you need a period of stability and consolidation

Or so the troops sometimes say. After the third reorganisation and the fourth quality programme and the second change management initiative, the cry is loud: give us a break! Yes, stability would be nice. But the last time we had stability was around 1756 (give or take a 100 years). The current world is instable. The business environment is a chaotic moving target. You have to be very careful about the word ‘stability’.

Although the linguistics are logical, we must accept that real consolidation and real stability are not going to be a sort of ‘steady-state’. Many people in managerial ranks spend their life in rehearsal mode: I’ll do this when I have more people, when my headcount is full, when I’m given a new budget, etc. But in the meantime: things happen!

Viral Change provides a mechanism for a continuum between changes (from tipping points) and establishment of new behaviours as a routine. It also gives us the power of internal (viral) networks and their perception of ‘stability’ or ‘change’. It is legitimate to place borders and timelines on processes, but they are only useful as part of a code language. As we said in the previous assumption, it is only when ‘destination’ is absolutely fixed and unmovable that ‘the end of the change process’ makes sense. If you have reached X, well, that’s it! But if vision is more of a journey with the possibility of new discoveries, then when exactly would you be able to say that you have reached terra firma?

Viral Change forces you to see waves of change, more than a sequential journey from A to B to C. Your concept of stability or consolidation may never be the same!

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.


Jeffrey Anderson said...

This is a very healthy perspective. It is better to set the expectation that stability is death; change is required to even survive. It is clear that you have to choose the pace of change that the organization can achieve successfully. The question is: how do you choose that rate?

Leader for Success


Dr Leandro Herrero said...

Jeff, agreed, but this is very often a difficult task. ‘Everybody’ has an answer to this from the Board to the project teams and all of them do this from their own subjective perspective. To ‘find out’ you need to tap into the real organization, that is the hidden one of internal networks and conversations ( and frustrations) I do this through the Change Champions network. Also, there is never a ‘right pace’ but, I agree, this is risky business.