Part 1 of 2
Despite all the business change knowledge uncovered during the last 50 years, many seasoned change management professionals still aren’t adequately prepared to serve those trying to navigate their way through today’s turbulence. Change Thinking is an effort to have an exchange with, and be part of, a community of practitioners committed to raising the level of their game and that of the field of change execution.
The challenges are great, and time is of the essence, so I will be direct: Anyone is welcome to read this blog but my comments will be aimed at advanced practitioners who have a broad understanding of the dynamics of change implementation and deep experience facing the challenges of executing large-scale initiatives. In addition, this blog is for those seeking mastery in this field—change professionals who relate to this aspiration as a journey, not a destination, and who are constantly improving their competencies while continually going deeper into themselves. They want to grow from being a change specialist to an artist, from knowledge to wisdom, and from doing to being.
I’m reaching out to practitioners who understand the importance individual and societal changes have on institutional transformation, but who want to participate in a forum where the organizational level of change is the focal point. Finally, this blog is for those who want to exchange views on strategic change implementation rather than on strategy formation or on the continuous improvement necessary once strategies are in place.
IS THIS FOR YOU?
Such a description clearly limits the intended readership, but if it appeals to you, I hope you’ll join in the discussion and invite others so we can band together in a collective effort to raise our game.
People who will be attracted to this community are easy to spot:
- They are looked to as well-respected change experts but sometimes feel they lack the level of credibility needed to achieve the degree of influence their role calls for.
- They enjoy solid working relationships with those they serve but feel they need greater access to more senior leaders who view them as trusted advisors in order to accomplish what is needed
- They are highly skilled but are more uncomfortable with how little they know than impressed by how much they have accomplished.
- They have much to say, but are eager to be part of a community where the collective wisdom is too powerful not to listen to.
- They have a great deal to offer about expanding the boundaries of our craft but don’t think anyone (including themselves) has found the Holy Grail that others should just absorb without question.
- They are confident they create value, but know deep down there is much more to learn about transformational change as well as how to provide greater benefits to their clients—and they are committed to exploring this gap as humble students of the craft.
- They feel there is more at stake in this pursuit than satisfying intellectual curiosity or participating in a little enjoyable bantering. They believe we have been entrusted with important but incomplete knowledge and we have a profound responsibility to advance it as far as we possibly can.
Change Thinking is for you, the seasoned internal agent or external consultant who is more attracted to the remaining questions than the unquestioned answers. It is for you, the experienced change professional who is anxious to deepen the conversation about the current state of the art (change thinking) and who is willing to shift your point of view if new information warrants it (change thinking).
IT’S TIME TO STAND ON EACH OTHER’S SHOULDERS
No one of us has all the answers, yet, as a profession, we change practitioners tend to work in rather isolated pockets (individual practice, in-house teams, external consulting firms). Yes, we’ll occasionally attend conferences and even present to our colleagues but generally speaking, what is shared doesn’t represent our latest thinking, concerns, vulnerabilities, innovations, etc. (at least that’s the case for many professionals in our field).
What we need to do is engage in much more open exchanges about what’s being learned. The challenges are now too complex and the stakes too high if we fail to push our craft and ourselves to the next level. It’s time to share more openly with each other so we can stand on each other’s shoulders and collectively raise the bar.
In this blog, I will come forward with as many specifics as I can about what I see working (and share the related principles, frameworks, and conceptual tools we use at Conner Partners) as well as what shortfalls I fall prey to that others may relate to. I invite other advanced practitioners to do the same.
In this light, let me say just a little about myself. I have been engaged professionally in the domain of personal change as far back as 1965 and have been exclusively in the organizational change consulting business since 1974. After more than 35 years of helping organizations all over the world execute transformational change initiatives, I have certainly formed some strong perspectives on what our profession could explore to accelerate its evolution. I’ll offer these in the form of personal experiences, observations/conclusions, points of view, and questions I’m pondering.
My impressions on the challenges of strategic change are no more than my own interpretations, but I’ll happily share them to stimulate thinking and dialogue within the community. Just know that I don’t confuse them with objective, verifiable truth. And, by the way—you shouldn’t mistake passion with rigid, close-minded thinking. To borrow a phrase from biology, differentiation precedes integration. We should explore our different views before we try to merge them synergistically into new thinking. It is my hope that together we’ll build a community of strongly held opinions that are eager to be tested.
Please consider joining this community and investing in and drawing from what we can collectively do to advance our craft and our individual capabilities.
I look forward to your participation and the subsequent exchanges we’ll generate.
Next post: Hold On—Change Itself Is Unstable