I am sure you experience a lot of change in your organization, although I am surprised at how many businesses still have fax machines. We gave up our fax machine after three years when the only messages were adverts for fake Rolex watches.
Change is everywhere, some successful and some not. Have you considered changing your change process to make that better too?
The Traditional Change Process
The standard design of changing anything is ineffective in today’s complex world.
You probably have your own examples of great change attempts that were wonderful and worthwhile but somehow just got lost in the detail.
Perhaps the internal politics weren’t supportive, or the change didn’t work, or your people refused to work it. Your view on which was the cause usually depends on where you sit.
But some people know better
The military and the Army in particular, would be an obvious place to look for examples of firm discipline, excellent communication of objectives and sub tasks to each level with the training and resources needed to achieve success. The popularity of ex-military Motivation Speakers would suggest we believe in their example.
Except the military know better from hard experience.
They do believe in good discipline, good training and clear communication of objectives and careful planning. They know for sure though that the most careful plan never survives the first contact with the enemy.
They communicate and train so that each sub-unit down to the individual person is able to take independent action toward the objective if necessary.
Simply, this best fits the action to the circumstances. The same applies in our civilian world.
The Bottom-up Change process is far superior in effect
There is a startling simple explanation why the bottom-up change process produces superior results.
The people who operate the processes now are the people who know how they actually work now.
The law of unintended consequences is immutable. Small changes to parts of the system to make that problem better cause problems elsewhere.
Continuous Improvement – Kaizen
Over a remarkably short time, minor change on minor change piles up to a major difference in how the process differs from its original design.
Over 40 years of research and experimentation on people and productivity, one particularly clear message has shone through.
Stephen’s First Law you might call it.
There isn’t a bad process that a good team can’t make work, or a good process that a bad team can’t mess up.
The choice is up to you.