Change management is an outdated concept – it is not the main organizational challenge any more, having been replaced by mastering complexity, volatility and reality of life as well as emerging patterns and needs of organizations.
This is why:
– Change management suggests that there is anything like “stability management.” What a fundamental misunderstanding. No, there is nothing but change management: it is not the exception but the new normal. So, the concept of change management makes sense only if there are phases of stability and change. There aren’t (any more).
– Many consultants talk about the need of “reinventing” organizations, about the outdatedness of hierarchical structures, budget planning, HR tools and all of the other last century tools. I agree. But what about our own approaches as consultants? What about concepts like the “change curve,” change architecture, steering committee and other hierarchical project structures, a certain rigidity and knowing “how things are and should be” and other models that were developed within a paradigm of stable growth? What if they are as outdated as the models of the clients they consult?
– The term “change management” means “controlled change,” the definition of a future desired state and definition of steps how to reach that goal (master plan). There is just one problem: life itself is in the way… features of life which you cannot control, you cannot predict, and you can (maybe) influence to a very limited extent. Change is the only stability there is.
– Most change projects are difficult to implement and need “change management,” because they are enforced by someone who wants to “implement” a certain concept, idea and reach a future goal. So, the purpose of change management is then to limit the level of resistance and try to get the best out of it; nevertheless, you will end up with an organization that feels overrun and will strike back.
– Most change approaches cannot keep pace with an absolutely complex, fast-moving and ever-changing world.
– And yes, sometimes it is helpful to facilitate and manage a process for new patterns to emerge. Not to impose change on a system and people, but to give “birth” to something that is already there.
I am convinced that we need a totally new way of looking at and working with organizations: a new approach, theory, language and attitude. Organizations are not objects, they are a process, actualizing and becoming real at every moment based on the way people act, communicate and think.
And I see the strong need and desire to relieve organizations from all heaps of concepts, goals and rules that bury what wants to be heard and helped into life and existence.
How? By listening and responding to organizations and by working with emerging needs. For one client, it might start with the call for “empowerment” by employees, with another it might be the need for “performance,” with others it might be the question how to “master complexity.” We don’t set up change projects but rather a development context. We go one step after the other, work with the result of one step and sense what is needed next. Looking back, we could identify some red line but while in the process we just work with simple tools such us:
– Listening to the purpose of the organizations
– Stop doing things all of the time and get some rest
– Meditating and listening to the voice of the organization
– Creating a collective organizational consciousness and a conscious organization that will know exactly what needs to be done next
– Taking one step after the other and trusting you will find solid ground
– Stop planning ahead, and do what needs to be done next
– Creating a sense of trust and openness, humor and lightness
– Learning how to listen to each other, building relationships between stakeholders
– Doing what needs to be done
This might result in a new organizational structure, new rules, new ways of working together, but that is never the goal.
From the outside, it might look like just another change project, but there is one huge difference: the change is not the result of an enforced process but rather of an expressed current desire and necessity.