Category Archives: Organizational Change

“Change Ninjas” survive to fight another day!

Herb Shepard directed the first doctoral program focused on successful organizational change and performance. In 1975, he published “Rules of Thumb for Change Agents” which have held up surprisingly well to the test of 40+ years of time. Let’s take a look at one of them.

RULE I: Stay alive.

Organizations are designed to deliver results but the world is changing around them. When change is triggered externally, most organizations find struggle to find the right people to help them respond. So, when a few brave souls take up the mantle of ‘change agent’ you would think that they would be celebrated…but that’s not usually the case. “Antibodies” in the organization, often at the middle management level, attack the internal change by convincing those who will listen why ‘it’s not a good idea’ and ‘things are fine just the way they are’.

How do you survive the attacks from those internal antibodies? Become a Change Ninja…wait, a what!?!

The two main roles of historic ninjas were espionage and strategy.  Change Ninjas gather intelligence about the organization around them and figuring out ways (a.k.a. strategies) to influence the organization (most often indirectly).  After peacefully living in the current system, Change Ninjas can jump out of their camouflaged position once opposition to change has been reduced.

ninja-155848_1280

Some budget is available? Shed the camouflage and make a strong case for directing it toward the growth project. A team needs a new member? Make sure to nominate someone who is sympathetic to the changes that need to take place.

Why the camouflage? Shepard says it best. He “counsels against self sacrifice on behalf of a cause that you do not wish to be your last.”   Risks are necessary but make sure that they are “taken as part of a purposeful strategy of change, and appropriately timed and hedged. When they are taken under such circumstances, one is very much alive.”

When you need to make a major change, become a Change Ninja and live to fight another day!

Need some ‘Introduction to Change Ninja training’?  Johannes Mutzke and I will be teaching a our Leading Change class in the Upstate of South Carolina on November 13.  More information is available here and you can register here.  Would love to see you there!

Not in the Greenville, SC area?  Check out my book on the three types of people that are key to every change.

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/ninja-laptop-typing-notebook-155848/
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Change Management: Art or Science?

Is helping others change an art or a science?

I think it’s both!  I recently spent a few minutes talking with Jeff Skipper of the Association of Change Management about the Certified Change Management Professional™ (CCMP™) certification.  I was beta participant and one of the first 75 people in the world to obtain complete the coursework pass the test, and become certified.

Interested in more information?  Check out the video of our discussion!

Are you brave enough to do the wrong thing?

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, is consistently ranked as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.  In fact, he’s held in such high regard that his face is carved into Mount Rushmore in South Dakota alongside three other great presidents.

However, did you know that he had a pretty incredible number of setbacks?

  • He suffered from asthma as a child
  • Roosevelt’s first wife died two days after giving birth…and his mother died the same day in the same house
  • After those dual tragedies, he became a cattle rancher in the Dakotas…and blizzards destroyed his herd
  • He won his first election (New York State Assembly) and lost his second (New York City Mayor)

His exploits became legendary after these potentially devastating losses.  He became the equivalent of Secretary of the Navy, formed the famous Rough Riders, served as Governor of New York, U.S. Vice President, and U.S. President.  While President, he ordered construction of the Panama Canal AND won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Theodore Roosevelt

Roosevelt was able to have a good laugh, even after some significant setbacks

How did Roosevelt progress from the early setbacks in his life?  I found this quote that really challenges me:

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing. – Theodore Roosevelt

Today, I’m striving to do SOMETHING…and I hope you will too!

photo credit: mentalfloss.com

Want your changes to last? Look in the refrigerator!

A few weeks into the new year, people are trying valiantly to keep their resolutions.  Some even look to others as accountability partners or coaches.  Those types of people can make a huge difference in our lives.  However, individual commitment is the most important key to success.  Let’s take a look at our friend, the egg.

If broken from the outside, a life ends…

Broken Egg

but if it is broken from the inside…

Chick in egg

a life begins!

So, when you want to see yourself make a change or help others, remember, the big changes in life start from the inside!

Photo Credits:
http://imblog.ideaglow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/chick-in-egg.jpg
http://www.dailyperricone.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Broken-Egg.jpg

Football Program Builders – Urban Meyer

We’re all surrounded by Visionaries, Builders, and Maintainers.  The next three posts will describe one of each of the three types in the world of football.   Today, we’ll be talking about a famous Builder, Urban Meyer.

As a reminder, Builders like to ‘construct’ things (people, organizations, processes, relationships) until they no longer see opportunities for improvement. Then, it’s time to find something else to build.

Love him or hate him, Meyer’s name is synonymous with success in College Football.  In the last 10 years, he has two undefeated seasons (Utah – 2004 and Ohio State – 2012) and two National Championships (Florida – 2006 and 2008).   The success of 2012 has led to great expectations for 2013. Since Meyer has dealt with this before (I mean, the guy won two National Championships in three years!), you might think maintaining success is easy for him. Not so fast.

Building takes passion and energy.  Maintenance is awful.  It’s nothing but fatigue.  Once you reach the top, maintaining that beast is awful – Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer at the White House - 2009

Meyer sure sounds like a Builder to me. He’s energized by building a new program (Ohio State is his fourth(!) turnaround). At the same time, he realizes that maintaining is hard (even life threatening).

With success that has come via shady talent, Meyer is a polarizing figure who doesn’t seem to put down roots for long.   If he has a couple more successful seasons with the Buckeyes, I won’t be surprised if he finds the stress of maintaining too much to deal with.  Then, if he continues his Builder behavior, he will go looking for a new challenge.  Maybe the NFL?

Photo credit: wikimedia.org

The People You Need to Make Change Succeed!

In my last post, we talked about bringing successful change to your organization by helping you identify the critical resources needed.  Before you can identify others, however, it helps to know where you fit.  So, let’s let’s take a quiz. Which of the three profiles below seems most like you?

A)  You are a teacher and have been for the past ten years. The most rewarding part of your job is watching the children leave at the end of the school year, ready for the next grade.
 
B)  You are a dentist and truly enjoy your job. Although you have to admit that mouths look pretty similar, you enjoy ensuring your patients will have their teeth for years to come.
 
C)  You are a stay at home parent. You enjoy finding projects to do with your children and have a good time working together with them to complete the activity. However, while you are working on it, you are already thinking about the next big thing to do together.

 Which of the behaviors above sounded most like you?  Now that you’ve chosen, let’s take a look at the details.

Profile A is typical of builders. Builders like to ‘construct’ things (people, organizations, processes, relationships) until they no longer see opportunities for improvement. Then, it’s time to find something else to build.

Profile B is typical of maintainers. People who match this profile typically like being ‘experts.’ They excel at doing the same thing, the same way every time.

Profile C is typical of visionaries. They seldom live in the present, preferring to look at the opportunities of the future. They are big idea people, often seeing opportunities before anyone else.

In following posts, we’ll explore all three of these profiles.  But until then, comment below to let us know which one you are.  How do you typically react when change is coming your way?

How Do We Make Change Stick?

I would be hard pressed to list more than a handful of organizations  that have endured longer than 400 years and I guess that you would have a similar problem. Why is it that some ideas succeed for a short time and then don’t last? Sometimes, it seems that even better ideas don’t take root! I think that the secret to success is in the people making it happen.

After many years of observing people in the business and civic arenas, I noticed a pattern that gave me insight into why people acted the way they did in situations of organizational or process change.  I found that it applied at work, at home, and in volunteer organizations. It even applies across international borders. I am not a psychologist, nor have I done any academic research in this area. However, I believe that knowing what change management personality ‘type’ you are can make a big difference in how you see yourself…and knowing what type others are can help you (and whatever it is you are involved in) be more successful.

That’s why I’ve written the book Visionaries, Builders, and Maintainers.  I want to help you bring successful change to your organization by helping you identify these critical resources.  In my next blog post, I’ll introduce you to these important people.

Don’t Outsource Change Management – Do It Yourself!

This recent Harvard Business Review post reminds us, “If you want something done right, do it yourself!”  Lots of organizations have ‘outsourced’ their change management planning and actions to an ‘internal consulting’ function.  However, does this absolve management of responsibility?  I think not.

 

How do we identify the ‘right’ role for managers to have when things are changing all around them?  Don’t they need help (sometimes all of the help they can get!)?  Absolutely.  Change management specialists are just as critical as financial experts are to investors or mechanics are to car owners!   And just like those examples, everyone has a special role to play.  We’ll be exploring those roles in the coming weeks.

 

What roles have you seen played well (and not so well) in organizational change projects?