10 Essentials for Successful Organization

I add my 10 essentials from 50 years of practice. If one of these essentials are not present we can expect ineffective management of change.
1. The internal change agent must be highly competent and connected to the power and powerless of the organization.

2. The executive team or top team of any system must model transformation and be one brain and one heart. Everyone knows that alignment at the top is absolutely paramount.

3. The system must be effective at designing large group interactive summits. Working in small groups is too costly, takes too much time, and creates micro results. The new research by Worley and Lawler says enterprise-wide priority decision-making is a key variable in organizations that financially do well.

4. The critical mass of the organization needs to be transformed in a summit in a minimum of 2.5 days. I have only seen one case where transformation in a group occurred in less time. That was because the critical mass of the system had already transformed.

5. All stakeholders need to be engaged and become collectively respected as the authority of the system.

6. There needs to be multidimensional communication dynamics that become a key force field… especially the latest use of social media.

7. There needs to be a Strategic Transformation Office reporting to the top executive. They must have a safe environment to speak the truth to leadership and represent the whole of the organization.

8. Attention must be paid to “Big Data” metrics/results so they can be used immediately to inform next cycles.

9. The journey needs to have a repeatable structure embedded in timeless foundation of values that produces system-wide high performance sustaining a perpetual focus on becoming more agile.

10. A new evolved action research process co-created in the culture of the system needs to be the pillar not to move the organization from one state to a desired state as change management and archaic organization development preaches. The newly evolved action research process must live fruitfully in what Dr. Vaill gave us with the concept of “Permanent Whitewater.”

Postscript: Hang on to your hats we are moving into the age of transformation. More change will happen the rest of your lives since the beginning of recorded civilization 4500 years ago.

I would value your critique of what I said. What needs to be added?

8 Responses to “10 Essentials for Successful Organization”

  1. adaptiveavenue Says:

    Point 2: Agreed that top management needs to be aligned (although alignment still needs a healthy balance of creative tension) — and the biological model (one brain / one heart) is more adaptive than traditional mechanical models of organization. But brain / heart model (organ system / organ / tissue) feels top-down — vs, a bottom-up biological model — like cellular / molecular / DNA. The most adaptive systems will be unified / organized from the bottom up — not the top down. Top-down alignment is hierarchical, serial, linear, brittle vs. relational, parallel, non-linear, robust — it’s more representative of traditional mechanical models vs. emerging biological models. Some analogies / metaphors in the realm of software engineering — which is learning adaptive models for accommodating vast complexity and rapid change — include client / server architecture and object orientation (the models underlying the Internet and the World Wide Web).


    • rolandsullivan Says:

      Sir you are the greatest intellectual challenge that I have run across in many a year.

      Now the latest research I just saw today from Booz Allen says that we must start change management at the top of the organization.

      Sure I agree with you about the bottom but practically coming from the bottom up is not going to be accepted today.

      I was with 200 of the large group consultants at a national organization development network conference for two days.

      The lab was run by Billie and Barbara. They are the leaders in researching large group work.

      At our session, the 200 of us came to a Wholistic whole system realization that all our challenges relate back to the top not being aligned. Therefore is paramount to start at the top so ultimately we can engage the bottom.

      I love your banter.


  2. adaptiveavenue Says:

    Point 7: Still thinking about discrete “STO”. The mission is noble / necessary – speak the truth / represent the whole. From the perspective of systems thinking, the proposed implementation is questionable. Feels dis-integrated, like a bag on the side. Like quality was formerly handled in manufacturing — a (relatively ineffective) function at the end of the line (dis-integrated). We have much more effective ways of managing quality now — more integrated, more holistic. Quality is included in the design process. Design considers manufacturability (DFMA). Collaborative design, concurrent product development, “devops”, continuous delivery integrate design and implementation / operations. Design-build integrates design / construction in more overlapping / iterative cycles. Integrated design — no more bags on the side. Can the function / process of transformation be included in the system in a more integrated way — at the DNA level — at an emotional / cultural / spiritual level — vs. a discrete “STO”? Just as “organizational development” itself must be integrated into the leadership / systems / fabric of the organization — vs. delegated to an external practitioner.


    • rolandsullivan Says:

      Yes. The strategic transformation office is a bag on the side. all you say about integrating quality into the core of the organization is true and wonderful.

      we also expect the same to happen with organization change.. yet we do need to have a structure outside the structure to make sure that the structure stays truthful.

      I took the strategic transformation office notion from the 60s in doing organization change. at that time we called it the change cadre.


  3. adaptiveavenue Says:

    Point 9: Sounds like journey mapping, “the heroic journey”, lean thinking / agile development. Not sure how “repeatable structure” translates into “becoming more agile”. Sounds noble, but not sure how it happens. Maybe needs to be articulated.


  4. adaptiveavenue Says:

    Point 10: Indeed, the pace of change is increasing. Less monolithic / more granular. We still move in iterations, but the frequency of iteration is increasing / the interval of iteration is decreasing. We’re moving toward “continuous change” (like “continuous delivery”), in which the interval of iteration is tending toward zero and the frequency of iteration is tending toward infinity. Still an iterative model, and the structures of iteration still hold. They’re just getting stressed to the point of transformation to a second order. As the interval of iteration tends toward zero, the”overhead” of conducting and iteration also tends toward zero. There’s no room for it — it gets percolated to the surface. Iterations still occur — they just become more microscopic in size.

    (Microscopic iterations / phase changes are consistent with microscopic structures / units of organization — the DNA / cellular / molecular)

    Four types of change:

    1. Static
    2. Dynamic
    3. Chaotic
    4. Continuous


  5. Roland Ramadan Says:

    Not a critique, but a question? What about the firms that really create jobs in this country, small to medium size businesses. How can this model apply to them? Or more provocative – the old models may still meet their needs.


  6. rolandsullivan Says:


    what you say here is absolutely genius.

    that you are absolutely right.

    you remind me of something that Peter block taught me. our job as change managers or change agents is to have a spotlight and shine it to where the change process should go.

    you just shined the light on where my .6 needs to be evolved to.


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