“The pace of change has never been this fast, yet will never be this slow again.” Justin Trudeau stated in his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos 2018. A change is often filled with dread, excitement and expectations. It’s exciting because it’s something new and you never know how people are going to react. In general people don’t like to change but sometimes a change is welcome. Especially if people understand why they have to change. Resistance to change, however, can manifest itself in many ways. In a recent survey Shifter looked at innovation and the ability to change according to customer needs’ in Norwegian companies. One of their key findings was that top management commitment was a prerequisite for success. But what about the middle management? A study conducted on integration of diversity (ethnicity and gender) in the workplace (Gordana Abramovic, 2016) suggested that a successful integration of ethnicity is dependent on whether the manager already has a positive experience with immigrants, holds a positive view of diversity and was able to focus on not just their own but also other people’s goals and ambitions. It is likely to think that this is relatable to how a middle manager can influence an organisational change process. Hence, the middle managers previous negative or positive experience with organisational change will influence whether the change process will be successful. This can be a scary thought as many of us have experienced unsuccessful change processes.
In order to change what we do we have to change the way we think, but how do we know what people think? People’s mindset can be identified through anti-patterns. According to Wikipedia an anti-pattern is A common response to a recurring problem that is usually ineffective and risks being highly counterproductive. Being aware of anti-patterns in a change process can help us identify and deal with anti-patterns before it’s too late. It makes you focus on what you need to “unlearn” as an organization to create the space for learning the new behaviours that everyone desires. In Expleo group where I work we have seen these recurring patterns so often in our work globally that we developed and trademarked Business Agility anti-patters: The common occurrences in organizations on the Business Agility journey that may appear reasonable on the surface but prove to be corrosive and potentially highly counterproductive. A selection of these anti-patterns is listed below.
· We are being asked to make this change on top of our day job · Our metrics have not changed · Our leadership is not part of the change and has delegated it to us · We don’t have a common understanding of the why · We are not placing our customer front and centre at every level · We treat culture and structure as “Out of Scope” · We don’t live continuous improvement in everything we do · Our actions indicate we value methods over mindset and behaviours · We believe agility applies only to “technology” · We are not fully embracing 70/20/10 thinking (70 percent of learning comes from experience, experiment and reflection, 20 percent derives from working with others, 10 percent comes from formal interventions and planned learning solutions) · We treat this change more like a destination vs a journey
Some of these anti-patterns can be painful and difficult to accept or identify. If you are in the middle of a change process right now, which most of us are these days, please take a moment to reflect. Do you recognise any of these or any other anti-patterns in your organisation that can result in your change being unsuccessful? The first step is recognizing which anti-patterns you have, the more complex step is taking effective corrective actions and this is where an expert coach on business agility can really help. Being aware of anti-patterns is the only way to target counterproductive mindsets and get the focus on mindset and behaviours instead of methods which is necessary in order to create a lasting and successful change.
References and inspiration https://www.innovasjonsmeldingen.no/ Gordana Abramovic: Effective Diversity Management on the Line — Who and How? On the role of line managers in organisations with diverse workforce. Doktoravhandling, Handelshøyskolen BI, 2016. Why Middle Managers, Rather Than Senior Leaders, Should Initiate Organizational Change Middle management are essential in a change process for their ability to 'keep their finger on the pulse', they are… www.forbes.com https://www.stateofagile.com/#ufh-c-473508-state-of-agile-report https://702010institute.com/702010-model/