Organizational change management—what does it mean? As one who appreciates language, I like to break down words and look at how their individual meanings affect how we perceive it. When I think organizational change management I think there is an inherent assumption that change must be “managed.” At least in our culture when projects are managed, they are typically done so with a top-down approach. Although there has been significant progress in terms of including a more complete set of stakeholders when developing identifying issues and developing questions, solutions, processes, etc.
The second thing that comes to mind when I think “manage” is that there is a perceived limit in which change should be contained. At what point do we put a halt to change? Do we, say, only tolerate a delta of 30% when transitioning from one process to another? When I set out to start Menrva Labs, I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, but I allowed as many ideas and iterations to pass for it to become everything it could be. The idea of change is included in the name—labs infers that we are always trying something new. Some things will succeed and others will fail. However, we cannot be afraid to try something as long as it contributes to promoting organizational change by increasing social awareness.
At the inception of the idea, the name was actually Global Mind Frame. I, however, found the term “frame” to be too limiting and looked for ways to express the more open nature of the vision. Maybe we should instead say organizational change. Is that sufficient? I don’t know. I think it’s closer to what we hope to accomplish, but still not an accurate reflection of the work and deliberateness in which we must approach such an undertaking. This past Monday I taught my first personal branding workshops. The first was a class through Goodwill.The second was the first in a series I started. Those two classes offered me the most rewarding experiences I have had in a very long time. Not because of the feeling of “helping” or “giving back.” In fact, I feel that the use of those terms is largely detrimental in that they typically come from a place of perceived superiority.
These classes were rewarding because I felt a “oneness” with the people I was working with. I’ve found that we spend so much time trying to communicate how we are different from each other, preserving a building a sense of self, that we don’t stop to realize the oneness to which we exist. I don’t mean oneness to mean sameness. When I say oneness, I mean the connectedness we between each other, to nature, to the world. This oneness acknowledges and respects the differences as well as the similarities. Traditional organizational change theory looks at people as a means to an end. As with profits, we tend to look at the change as the goal rather than the outcome. In strong organizations with strong people and a strong mission, profit is never the goal, but rather an outcome.
I feel the same should be true in change management. The change should not be the goal, but a result of strengthening the people, technology, and structures within it to align more closely with a shared vision. By treating people as the ends, investing in them in ways to make them the most creative, skilled, and happy individuals they can be, we create a culture that facilitates the change unlimited in scope.