Executing big change-management projects within organizations is somewhat like performing major surgery on human patients.
These are not just single, static events performed within a vacuum…
They are actually a symphony of intricate processes that must be performed in sequence in order to achieve the desired outcome of healing a sick organism.
As a consultant, I have noticed a trend in many organizations that are going through big organizational change. Often times, there is great interest in putting together a comprehensive solution that includes these elements:
- Altering the structure of an organization
- Putting in new processes
- Establishing new ways of interacting together as a team or between departments (normally known as the three components to organizational change)
Only Going Part-Way
Unfortunately this is the equivalent of just getting half a facelift.
Of course, getting half of the facelift is ridiculous. It makes no sense. Yet, the equivalent to this phenomenon occurs regularly in organizations.
Taking on a long-term effort to transform or alter how the organization operates, only to stop after the first step. Some people call it “change fatigue.” William Bridges called it “the Neutral Zone.”
I call it “Glory Days Syndrome.”
For those of you unfamiliar with the term “glory days,” it is a term from a 1984 song, written and performed by American rock singer Bruce Springsteen, describing where people recount bygone days in an effort to gain satisfaction by recounting and reminiscing their “glorious” past when they were “someone” or “popular” in the highlight of their lives lived during high school.
But in reality “real life” has passed them by. And all they have left is clinging on to their fond past.
People who work in organizations do the same thing. They remember when the company was smaller; or more profitable; or easier to manage, etc.
Unfortunately, organizations rarely get back to those “glory days” without some effort and some pain.
3 Ways to Avoid Glory Days Syndrome
- Make sure that you have a comprehensive plan for all three components of an organizational change (there are great tools and checklists – here and here . Remember, planning is vital.
- Set aside the budget and resources to ensure that the change is going to take place in its entirety.
- If there is any inclination that not all three components of the organizational change can be filled, don’t start to change.
That’s right, I said it: Don’t start the change!
The truth is that 70% of change efforts fail. It is better to look in other areas or figure out other ways to improve performance than to launch an organizational change that you’re only going to be able to do the first part.
There are thousands of small tweaks that can be found to make incremental changes.
Without completing all components of the change, organizational inertia will likely pull people and teams back to the way they used to act.
Commit to the change in its entirety or don’t do it at all, going half way could make it worse.
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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders™
Anil Saxena is a President & Senior Consultant Cube 214 Consulting
He helps organizations create environments that generate repeatable superior results
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