Wednesday, 7 November 2007

The answer to myth 9: There is no point in creating change in one division without the rest of the company participating

Even people in a part of the organisation that feels passionate about change and embraces the principles of Viral Change, often have this nagging feeling about what the extent of it all will be, if the rest of the divisions (or the corporation, or headquarters, or everybody else) don’t do the same. In the worst case, this thinking leads to paralysis or a delay in the ‘change process’ until – or so they hope - others have understood and bought in. Which, incidentally, may never happen!

There is little doubt that changes in one group or division have the potential to create antibodies in the rest, or will simply be rejected or alienated. It may be tough. However, as leaders, one has to ask the question: what can I do that is within my control? Simply asking this question many times results in revelations such as: actually, a lot. Organisations have great capacity to host models in a symbiotic way. Change needs to start somewhere.

Viral Change focuses on the spread of changes via internal viral networks. In many cases, once the tipping points have occurred, their visibility goes beyond the borders of the organisation, and other divisions or groups may copy or start thinking about copying the changes. There is so much you can do via Viral Change within the borders under your control.

People who accept the idea of ‘try-and-see-what-happens’ have invented the word ‘pilot’. It seems as if ‘piloting’ is acceptable, but ‘here-we-go-for-real-change’ is not. Viral Change could be done through pilots, but we would be prostituting terminology. There are no ‘pilots’, only real life spread of infections. My advice is: start now!

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: