Thursday, 3 April 2008

Difference in conduit of change

That brings me to item 7 on my list: the difference between traditional change management and Viral Change concerning the conduit of change, i.e. how change flows through the organisation.

Following the conventional approach, the primary vehicle for the change is the management tree/structure represented in the organisation chart. VPs fire the shots and take care of directors so they are on board. Directors repeat this at their level, involving managers and their groups, sections or divisions. Managers take care of their own trees. Change is created by a sequential cascade down, via ‘the plumbing system’ of ‘burning platform signals’, communications and activities, training and review processes. Buy-in is assumed as part of the rational process. All people are equal under the tsunami!

However, in Viral Change, networks of people are the primary conduit. Signals (language, strategy, ‘burning platforms’ and directions of change) may have been started at the top, and indeed communicated down via hierarchical ‘pipes’, but change is created by social imitation in networks of influence and driven by few individuals who act as key nodes. They constitute either an informal, natural network, or they may be aided by a designed network of ‘change agents’ or ‘Change Champions’. Viral Change does not subscribe to an egalitarian view: there is no point in communicating to all and cascading down as the only mechanism to spreading change.

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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