Accelerating Change Programmes

Seeking the approaches that enable faster change in the complex world of health and social care

Why the most effective change happens off the organisation radar?

I’ve observed this phenomenum many many times and often wondered why there are deeply impressive changes happening away from the organisation mainstream. These small pockets of genuine transformational change seem to be a feature of most organisations I’ve worked with. Although small scale, they usually engage senior leaders, who latch onto these with enthusiasm, thus drawing them into the limelight.

In the past, my response was to get involved and strengthen the management of the change, as they appeared to me to be light on structure and process. Now, I just leave them alone and actively ensure they remain off the radar, as that seems to be the most successful strategy.

On closer examination, these changes all seem to have common traits that create the right conditions to help  change flourish, in particular they are all driven bottom up.  The features I’ve observed are:

  1. Decision making close to the change, often driven by very enthusiastic practitioners or operational managers.
  2. Strong relationships between people involved and they all consistently describe the same vision and clear reasons why the change is good. The lead spends a lot of time creating and fostering relationships.
  3. Those leading the change have given a clear purpose to the change, and seem naturally good at identifying and managing risk without a risk log, and planning without a Gantt chart.

If these are the conditions that create effective change it is easy to understand why they aren’t mainstream and appear at the edges of organisations. Most organisations in Health and Social care are driven through a Strategic Planning regime, not geared towards creating the conditions outlined above. They create an environment that focuses on process and reporting that would view the conditions described above as risky, despite them allowing change to flourish.

These, off radar changes, highlight that to create successful change, achieving these conditions within a Strategic Planning regime, must be the goal. This is clearly difficult, as it rarely happens. For me, the objective should be about about creating an organisation culture to foster the right conditions; devolved responsibility, effective relationships, meaningful visions, and collaborative leadership. Whilst, structures and processes are an important part of picture, how much time and resources do organisations really give to the cultural aspects  and environment within which change is happening. As much as the structure stuff? I’ve never experienced it.

The message is clear, leave well alone, and if you want more successful change in the mainstream of your organisation, there is a need to balance the focus on the process and structure with creating the right conditions and culture for change.

One comment on “Why the most effective change happens off the organisation radar?

  1. Pingback: Create Pace, Sweat the Small Stuff | Accelerating Change Programmes

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This entry was posted on 01/09/2015 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , .
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