A Surprising Key to Organizational Change

I was working with a company that wanted to make a big change. I shared a short case in which a similar company tried to make the same change but failed. The case did not specify the explanation for failure. The executives wanted one but I would not cooperate. I told them that they would have to give me an explanation.

A heavy silence filled the room. Finally, one of the most influential members of the group said, “The leaders of the company didn’t change their behavior.

I nodded. Then I challenged them: “Identify one time today when one of you said you were going to change your behavior.” No one raised a hand.

There was a long pause. Something important and unusual was happening. These executives were suddenly seeing something that few people ever clearly see – the incongruity of asking for deep change in others while failing to model deep change.

Turning an organization positive usually requires a change in culture. Culture change is deep change. Deep organizational change has to be led by a person who is willing to make deep personal change. Few people believe this and few organizations succeed at deep change (Quinn, The Deep Change Field Guide: pg. 47-48).

Reflection
When have I made deep personal change?

When have I helped others make deep personal change?

How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?


 

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