The Challenge of Change – Part 2
By Tom Moore July 2011
Every organisation plans and feeds back to a greater or lesser degree but there is a tipping point that only a relatively small number reach. When applied to the proper extent, planning and feedback become game changers; they allow managers and management click together like Lego. They provide the mechanism and the anchor through which the individual and collective change can be achieved. The big advantage is that the change agents are part of the day-to-day fabric of the business so that achieving the difference can be a gradual, but quick transition. It allows the change be rippled down from the top in in a logical, progressive way.
- The availability of facts changes the nature of meetings and it speeds up and improves decision making. Managers increasingly think in terms of impact.
- When problems are pushed to the surface at the earliest possible point, and their true nature is clearly identified, the focus shifts from discovery to resolution. Failure to address issues becomes clearly evident.
- The combination of task defined roles, and relevant operational facts, fosters accountability and responsibility. It supports a safer, higher level of autonomy so that the management structure moves closer to an almost federal model. This is an important component of the collective agility.
- The need for individual support shows up in a clear and unambiguous fashion. When the requirement for training, coaching or other such interventions is clear to all involved, the benefit of the intervention will be faster, greater, and more directly related to the underlying problem,
- When a manager becomes confident that they can always have access to the facts they need, that they, and all those around them, understand what they need to do, their approach changes. When they have the confidence that the feedback structure will prompt them when they miss the need for action or intervention, the change is accelerated. They don’t need to fire fight to the same extent; they can directly address and resolve the underlying problems rather than just manage their impact.
Things like this are formative; they change the individual manager and also change the management as an entity in its own right. It becomes real “on the job” learning. The approach is top down and the focus for any individual manager is on their tasks or objectives. At the same time, the process is building and reinforcing generic management skills. These include an evidence based approach, problem solving, objectivity, autonomy, accountability and responsibility, real delegation and so on.
The process follows a number of simple rules that makes change quicker and more likely to stick.
- At all times it works out from the current reality, there is no quantum leap involved. The difference isn’t what you do, it’s the extent to which you do it.
- The process is part of the daily habit at all stages.
- Change can be quick, shallow, and incremental with continuous gain targets.
- Both recognition and consequence, essential components of autonomy, become a logical and natural part of the equation.
Wiktionary has one definition of osmosis as “picking up knowledge accidently without actually seeking that particular knowledge”. That’s a good way to learn. If the mechanics of management are appropriately structured, managers can learn and develop by doing their job. Change becomes much less of a challenge.