Doing organizational change – is also a matter of knowledge!

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In our earlier blog post (Building the right organization – is also a matter of trust) we discussed and described the importance of trust in the building of organizations – being a start-up or an established one. Some of the key points were, that organizations with high levels of trust have better cooperation, better relations, easier decision making and employees are working better towards the same target.

So, if we have a high trust organization things are going great, but how do we manage change?

Organizational change and the numbers

Change can be a hard nut to crack! According to a McKenzie report 70 % of all changes fail. That’s a lot! So even if we assume that trust is established within the organization there has to be other things that influences organizational change as well! right?

So let’s get at it – how to move the impossible dream of perfect organizational change into a useable – and doable – framework!

There seems to be no winning formula

Since many projects fail, it can feel like leading change is like visiting a casino. “You can roll the dice, but you know the odds are against you. You can spin the wheel, but the ball aren’t going to land on lucky number 23. You can place your bets, but you’re never going to win.” (Rick Maurer 2010).

– So what (not) to do?

Many organizations (sadly) still doesn’t have a sound plan for implementing change, which in most case is the root to failure.

“Strangely, many management teams indulge in this kind of behavior. They read books, go to workshops, and hire consultants… always hoping that the next new “resource” will give them a secret winning formula that works forever, an edge that tilts the odds in their favor. But of course, nothing ever does.” (Rick Maurer 2010).

The Reason for failure: Lack of knowledge

Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton coined the phrase “the knowing-doing gap” which describes the problem really well. “They found that there’s a huge gap between what people know and what they do”. and the problem with this is, that it “…costs organizations billions of dollars every year.” The interesting thing here is to see possibilities in the problem – what would happen if it was possible to KNOW what exactly to do in change management? My bet is, that it would save those billions of dollars every year!

– But how do we solve this lack of knowledge challenge?

Luckily, there appears to be two major issues that relates to the lack of knowledge issue. Fixing these can lead organizations towards better organizational change.


No. 1: The misinterpreted way of thinking strategies into organizational life.

Ralph Stacey has done a lot of work on organizational structure, leadership and strategy. He found, that many organizations – and hereby leaders – are taking for granted, that good strategies leads to good organizational life. The problem with this thinking is, according to Stacey, that organizations aren’t just static. Organizations are actually made out of all the social relations that exist within the organization. It´s thereby a much more unpredictive institution that changes suddenly and rapidly. To fix this problem, leaders must recognize that the way to drive change happens through these interpersonal relations. This happens all the time in organizations! It is through these change the culture and strategy and thereby interpretation happens.

When this view is applied, and we recognize that strategy fulfillment is done through minor everyday actions, we have to figure out a way to know what to do, and when!


No. 2: Closing the gap between what we know and what we do.

Another utterly important aspect of organization change is knowing what to do and when to do it! As seen in the McKenzie report(2010), many organizations are doing bad change management simply because there is a mismatch between doing and knowing. This means that they implement things which they don’t even know how would fit their specific demands. For example are many control aspects implemented where there actually is a strong need for less controls and thereby more trust. Another often seen example are a strategic focus on bringing down days of sickness absence, but instead there might be need for a closer look on the relations inside the organization as well as a recognition of each employees hard work. There are simply too many mismatches out there and it has got to stop!

A solution to this answer might be in the making!

You read it right, a solution for organizational change that will change the way of thinking change management through the usage of measure and feedback is near.

Instead of doing things because we think they are the right things to do, we (as strategic planners and business consultants) should do what we for certain know is needed within the organization.

One way to do this is by measuring the organization and get some specific knowledge about areas which are possible to improve – and how.

The solution for this is an online platform called Lacuro and it’s coming THIS summer to a homepage near you!

Read much more about Lacuro, our vision and the importance of data in relation to organizational change in our next blog post which is out in mid-may.

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