Monday, 25 February 2008

Viral Change sees a different, implicit model of the organisation

In my previous post, I told you I’d be looking at the differences between Viral Change and traditional change management. Here is the first instalment: how the ‘concept of the organisation’ is different.

The conventional approach sees the organisation as machinery of bits and pieces linked by a sort of mecano-hydraulic dynamics. Information, guidelines, pressures, support or anything that flows inside, does so mainly top-down. Pushed from one side, it will have consequences on the other side. ‘Corporate goals are my objectives; my objectives are the basis for yours (direct reports)’, etc. Life percolates down the organisation chart or its ‘collaboration by design' spaces (mainly teams). The pre-determined ‘plumbing system’ described in the organisation chart is the communication highway. Influence and power are assumed to flow down the plumbing system.

Viral ChangeTM takes a different view, one where the organisation is better explained as a living organism sharing many of its characteristics. There is a formal structure of authority (represented by the organisation chart) but, beyond this, there is a multi-directional flow of influences and other dynamics. Self-adaptation and re-configuration are key to survival and grow mechanisms. Managerially, it doesn’t discard a structured system of goals, objectives, etc., but it is less concerned with absolute consistency in ‘cascades’ as long as there are a few overriding strategies and directions. An incredibly rich ‘network world’, often invisible, coexists with the plumbing system.

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

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