Designing and Doing Change is the third “season” in an organization’s annual cycle.
In 1982, while in the employ of Phillips Petroleum Company I worked with Harry Levinson and Ralph Hirschowitz of the Levinson Institute on the delivery of the “On Leadership” Executive Development Training Program within Phillips. The program focused on supporting executives in successfully making the transition from senior functional leadership roles to the general management role in the organization. It was a very valuable experience for me to see how Levinson and Hirshowitz worked with these high potential senior leaders as they grappled with the uncertainty and insecurity attendant to that transition. One of the concepts presented in the workshop that Hirschowitz had codified in a 1973 article titled “Psychological Cost Accounting” was the notion of the Crisis/Transition Sequence (see below).
(Diagram by Chantal Reed – Bridge 9 – http://www.Bridge9.net)
This model is one of many I use in helping people and organizations navigate the rapids and shoals of change. (By the way, I see this model as both an individual and organizational model.)
Change is uncomfortable and often treacherous. In many of our lives we have a daily diet of it. How we choose to position ourselves and our organizations toward the changes within which we are immersed will, to a significant degree, be the measure of our ability to successfully navigate our environment and create thriving and enduring people and organizations.
The Challenging Twins of Change: Sustaining & Diffusing:
When it comes to change, there are two significant areas of change that remain elusive to us. One is in the area of sustaining change. Whether we talk about changing business organizations, families, or institutions in the developing world we have only sketchy ideas about how to sustain change over months, years, and decades. Reversion is a significant issue we need to continually address.
Diffusing change is equally as difficult. Moving from a pilot case or experiment to being able to generally apply new approaches is at best inconsistent. Too often we lack the understanding of specific settings and cultures to be able to figure out how to adjust and finesse new approaches so that they work broadly across individuals, organizations, and societies.