The following paradoxes reflect some of the key lessons that have arisen from my experience of managing and participating in organizational change:
- There's not "one best way" to manage change and, at the same time … there are some common change dynamics that can be identified and addressed.
- It's no good expecting a quick fix and, at the same time … some things will need to be - and can be - achieved quickly.
- A single approach - such as BPR, TQM, SAP, or other TLA (three-letter acronym!) is not enough and, at the same time … it's important to avoid 'death by a thousand initiatives'.
- The most significant aspects of improved performance can't be achieved through top-down management edict and, at the same time …active and effective sponsorship from leaders is critical to success.
- It’s important to be open and ‘up front’ about change and, at the same time … to recognize that much of the real change takes place in the shadows of the organization.
- Communication is critical and, at the same time … it’s important to stop seeing this in terms of passing messages!
- Organizational restructuring often starts with a ‘blank sheet of paper’ and, at the same time … the imprint of past 'writing' continues to shape people's perceptions and interpretations of reality into the future.
- Leaders need to convey genuine enthusiasm for desired changes and, at the same time … to accept that there are both downsides to where the organization is going and upsides to where it has been!
- It’s important to build on strength and, at the same time … to understand that an organization’s greatest strength can become the source of its downfall.
- The aim is to build coalitions of co-operative effort in support of the desired changes and, at the same time … to welcome challenge and conflict as a source of creativity and learning.
- Organizations want to “keep it simple” and, at the same time … leaders need to base this simplicity on knowledge of what exists 'on the far side of complexity'.
- Change requires action to be taken and, at the same time …leaders need to recognize that talk is their primary action tool.
- By virtue of their position, leaders are both ‘in control’ of change and, at the same time … ‘not in control’ of it!
The challenge for leaders - at all levels - is to embrace everyday organizational paradoxes such as these and, as Gareth Morgan argues, work to make them liveable for people.
© 2006 Chris Rodgers Consulting Limited