Four Assumptions for Success in Change Journeys

Dr. Steve Barlow ( Linkedin) the paper you requested is at the end.

I wish I had the luxury of time to seriously respond to why I have been able to create 99% success rate. I have two or three failures out of over 1000 cases.

I find that clients care less about why something works. They just want results fast. Thus, I have not really spent the time distilling why my structured process works.

In any case here is an off the top of head response this New Year’s day early morning around 4 assumptions that I believe underlie our successful change making.

As a prelude, I feel the need to convey that I only have one of the multitudes of answers to success out there. After all, 30 to 40% of the change efforts are successful. I believe a reoccurrence of research today would show a slow improvement each year.

We need to learn from the success stories. Thus, I am only sharing one consultant’s story around what I have assimilated and made part of my very being through my 50 years of experience.

What I say is right for me. In most cases, it is not right for others. I challenge each and every change agent to discover his or her own best practice.

One of the underlying concepts that come to mind is self-mastery.

There is plethora of wisdom out there on self as instrument of change. I see that totally missing from the change management literature and standards. It just may be the most important of my ten essentials. Here is a quote from Dr. Seashore.

“Perhaps the most powerful instrument we have in helping our clients navigate change is ourselves. Our ability to use ourselves potently relies in large part on the level of awareness we have about the impact we make, and our ability to make choices to direct and modify that impact.”

A second source of my thinking is embedded in feedback I gave to the change management movement. Do a search on Youtube for “Roland Sullivan Standard For Change Management” and you’ll see my 15 videos crucifying the initial editions of change management standards. I was invited by the change management people to offer my feedback. I did. Please understand I offered critical feedback in the spirit of love and care. I so much want the change management movement to succeed because I believe the world needs such like no other time in the history of civilization.

Thirdly, I predict that intuition will become increasing important as we must face the need for agility. As I come into my senior years of experience, I reflect back on a competency that I first experienced with Gordon Lippitt and Jack Gibb. Both were Ph.D. mentors. Gordon was President of National ASTD, maybe in the late 60’s. Jack, in my mind, was one of the 5 most significant group facilitators also in the 60’s and 70’s.  Both possessed super intuitional consciousness. After having my mind blown by them over and over, I set a goal at that time to be like them. After doing yoga 360 days a year since 1962, the super intuitional consciousness is finally coming into existence and has become most useful in my client interventions.

While we follow my structured process, my spontaneous comments in reaction to what I am experiencing in front of me are paramount. Through extensive and intensive rehearsed preparation for our interventions, the external person that I am training or the internal person we are training together leads the show. Such allows me to help them become the star while I am free to give extemporaneous relevant and connected contributions. My job is to respond to the  subtle nuances that surface in the real-time strategic change effort. Canned programs just do not allow such to happen. One end result is simply that our initial experience ignites a transformative momentum. The client system wishes to keep the journey going. It sets up  annual repetition while dramatically reduced dependence on yours truly. Competence to an internal change agent and learnings from the system have the capability re-cycle and significantly improve upon what was launched.

The fourth tip for me is to utilize the basic fundamental OD theory specially that I have personally learned from the pioneers like Argyris, Schein, Beckhard, Burke, Weisbord, Dyer, and Dannemiller etc. I find much of their original learnings forgotten or lost. Especially, we have lost the whole system and large group work of Beckhard and Dannenmiller. Along with the internal change agent, we create a specific theory from approximately 12 classic theory makers. Such is co-created with the organization to become unique to the situation of each client system. One theory that I always include is from Argyris. He says that valid and reliable data must be surfaced authentically in the safe manner that will then be utilized by the heart and rational mind of the whole system to make free choice about the commitments and actions that will be implemented.

In summation, it is my value to ensure that the change agents are velcroed to my hip. As I continue to get better at what I do, the person I transfer the change competency is encouraged to take the lead more and more. The learning is essentially experiential and real time. I find talking and writing about it only creates cynicism, disbelief and non-productive use of everyone’s time. Experiencing together the innovative journey creates believers!

Feedback from you Dr. Steve and others is welcome.

What are the forces that cause your success?

The link to the paper you requested:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: