-- Wayne Gretsky
This article is aimed specifically at organizational change practitioners. By using the ice hockey metaphor I point out where our profession should be today, and the direction the puck will be heading tomorrow. Organizational change practitioners cannot expect everybody else to adapt to the digital economy and at the same time work with outdated tools, techniques and perspectives. We need to be the change we want to see in the world - and frankly: we suck at it.
My suggestion is to look for where our skills will be needed today and tomorrow.
Each container represents a specific need that people have during a change.
- Communication: people need an identity to hang onto so they can see what is in it for them. Constructing an identity for your project is necessary in order to provide an answer to the question “What’s In It For Me?”.
- Learning: People need to know what is expected of them in terms of attitude, knowledge and skills. A part of this is provided in the form of classroom-trainings (the know-how), but the largest part of the knowledge transfer will take place in practice, during the testing phase and the phase of problem-solving. That is why the learning work is never restricted to the classroom and – most of all – we need to carefully build a network of local ambassadors for the project.
- Organization: this is the need to know “Who does what?”. This means that the setup of the future roles and responsibilities needs to be clarified upfront. Next, the support structure in the long run needs to be setup, i.e.: the community of ambassadors who will be responsible for the sustainability of the solution.
- Performance: Finally, people need to know what exactly will change in practice and how this will affect their working habits and usage of time. This includes a detailed follow-up of the chronology of tasks and the creation of a uniform procedure that is shared among all departments.
In an earlier article I have underscored the need to upgrade our organizations to a social architecture. To the same extent and with a slightly higher sense of urgency, I am calling organizational change practitioners to action. I’m on a mission to change organizational change management. We desperately need to upgrade the way we do our work.
With the manifesto of Social Architecture in the back of my mind, this is how each of the change management work-streams will need to shift: the skaters remain the same, but the game is being played on a different level. We need a different puck. Have a look at the below drawing to see what an upgraded puck looks like.
On the left-hand side of the drawing above, you can see what organizational change management meant before the digital economy got any traction:
- Communication: broadcast your messages to stakeholders (‘Message & Audience’)
- Learning: manage the curriculum (‘Content & Collection’)
- Organization: top-down (‘Hierarchy & Position’)
- Performance: push harder (‘Control & Compliance’)
As we are witnessing the end of the Industrial Revolution, we discover that leadership and workplace dynamics are no longer hierarchical. That game is over. Compliance is no longer the shortest path to productivity. Relationships are no longer hierarchical, they have become tribal. This means that the upgraded puck of Organizational Change looks like this:
- Communication: listen and trust the process (‘Story & Community’)
- Learning: learning is in the network (‘Context & Connection’)
- Organization: become a platform for change (‘Social Architecture & Roles’)
- Performance: balance push and pull (‘Trust & Co-creation’)
Finally, let’s take this metaphor one step further and see if we can answer the initial question: where is the puck of our profession, and where is it going to be?