Thursday, February 01, 2018

Why cultural change in organisations is hard ? : Systems Thinking perspective

Many enterprises create bold vision and mission statements. However, many hardly leave up to them. Sweeping changes created in the organisations with the intent of creating a positive momentum, many a time leads to failures. Why ?
Why is it hard to bring cultural or process changes in the corporates? Why is it hard to execute many well-intended plans?
The answer, according to me boils down to the availability of leaders who have the eye to see the leverage points in the system. We have many academicians who have in-depth knowledge about the system but are very few in numbers. We have umpteen number of leaders but lack the ability to see the details in the system.
When I say, having an eye to see the leverage points, I meant the invisible structure within the organisations in the context of this article. 
As we know, the senior management looks at the organisation as per the HR structure with lines and arrows reporting to one another. However, one needs to realise that, there are invisible structures in the system which cannot be seen through naked eyes and thus cannot be easily represented visually.
The emergent behavior and the culture in the system are hugely influenced by these invisible networks. It is paradoxical to note that, the invisible structure in the system are robust self-organizing systems. However, in the same system, when the scrum masters/leaders try to consciously create self-organizing teams, they fail miserably. 
Unless and until the invisible structure is identified, it 's hard to bring any change in the organisation. Because of the emergent property of the self-organizing teams, it tends to become a moving target. An experienced enterprise coach would be in a position to see and track, influencing the necessary changes. 
I would recommend some of the following steps based on my past experiences:
  1. Take time to understand the invisible structure without ignoring the visible one
  2. Set right expectation with the senior management about your hunt
  3. Many a times you might want to create a ripple by throwing stone in the perceived "calm water" to make underlying structure visible
  4. You cannot change the system until and unless you become part of the system
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Please register for my upcoming Certified LeSS Practitioner courses in Sydney and Melbourne. I would be covering many concepts around Systems Thinking during these 3 days course.

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