One of the biggest reasons change fails is that organizations start with an outcome in mind.
However, remember...organizations are living organisms.
They aren't meant to be controlled.
They're meant to be given an environment that helps them thrive, and then they're meant to be nudged in a direction.
Organizational change initiatives do much better when designed with a hypothesis (environment) and then tested in intervals (nudged).
The established method teaches us to develop the end vision in a tactical, project driven approach...then work backwards to chart the course to get to the end state. Then, we judge that end state as good or bad by some metrics we establish for how the change is adopted.
- Old approach: Deliver training on the system six months from now. Tell people to use it.
- Hypothesis 1: For the next 90 days, focusing solely on why this change is happening will get 80% of people impacted by it enthusiastic about its arrival. If we don't hit 80%, conduct qualitative interviews to learn why and then adjust.
I know...it's easier said than done when you're on a multi-million dollar tech project or the new CEO is calling for a culture transformation.
My main point here is that there is a massive benefit to gain when we resist the urge to write the end of the story of change too soon. Then, judge it as good or bad.
Instead, the invitation is to stay present in the journey -- believing with a whole heart that what is to be will be revealed at exactly the right time.
Have a plan, but not one that seems to be punctuated by a period or an exclamation mark.
Strive for a plan with ellipses, dashes, and question marks.
Those marks invite curiosity, openness, and co-creation.
And, they hint that the process to get to the end is the gift itself.
Great article from McKinsey on how to leverage tools from design to add some flex to your practice:
- What is design thinking (March 2023): https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/mckinsey-explainers/what-is-design-thinking