What does it take to create a culture that actively supports change?
This is the eighth in a Series on Organizational Culture, its role, how it is shaped, and how it can be changed.
Change, in its simplest meaning, is a response to an opportunity. And one thing for sure is we have lots of opportunity to respond to in our world – because it thrives on change.
When we hear the word change we often think of it as an event: we change from this to that. We change clothes. We change jobs. We change doctors. We change homes. Change is often seen as black and white.
Organizational change is often seen the same way. We have a culture of this and we instead want it to be that. For example, we have a long history of top-down management, and we want to move to decentralized decision-making and a high engagement culture such as the Now Management System creates.
When I think about organizational change, my mind goes back to a concept popularized in Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, published way back in 1990. According to Senge, rather than take an organization through a periodic overhaul, what really makes sense is to create a highly agile organization. What this means is that the DNA of a highly agile organization allows it to constantly reinvent itself.
In other words, learning organizations don’t see change as periodic they see it as continuous and as a way of life. Learning organizations thrive on improving everything and they love it when they have to achieve a breakthrough to transform its performance or add a new capability.
Learning organizations embrace change better if they have a system of management that enables it. Then change is not talk, it is built into everything they do. You can see the markers of such organizations because of their clear commitment and focus on learning how to improve. They learn how to define breakthroughs and they have a track record of doing the work it takes to deliver on their opportunities. These organizations measure what matters most and work to improve those measures.
Learning organizations have a stimulus/response way of seeing the world. Something shifts, so we shift too. Applying these best practices to managing our organizations is a stimulus/response approach to learning. Something shifts and we recognize the need to shift; because we are agile, we shift with it.
As leaders, if we want to create an organization that actively supports change, we have to create one that is designed for change. Organizations that thrive on learning are the ones that best embrace change.
Next week I’ll share some thinking on how changing your management system will change your culture.
Video Blog – Process Improvement | Supporting Change
Video Blog Link – http://youtu.be/yCDr5fBw4Uc