Culture is the sixth supporting pattern according to Conner. He says that culture is the shared beliefs, assumptions, and behaviors that are acquired over time by those within an organization. He says that winners recognize that culture is an essential element to running a business and that changes can be assimilated into the culture.
So how does culture affect daily business operations? According to Conner they can affect culture overtly through goals, organizational structure, physical facilities, formal policies and procedures or covertly through informal ground rules, unofficial guidelines, or "the way things are around here." These ways of operating can help to define how people behave in organizations as well as can restrict new ways of doing things.
In order to truly align your culture with your decision to change Conner says that you need to develop behaviors, beliefs, and assumptions which are consistent with the new change. Resilient organizations deliberately create a culture that best serves their needs. Also a key way to enhancing resilience in an organization is to actively manage the organizational culture and that requires resolve from top management and a long term view of things.
In order for change to be implemented the organization's cultural traits must be congruent with the new decisions driving the change otherwise the culture will win over the change. In order for the change to be accepted the cultural behaviors, beliefs, and assumptions must evolve to take into account the needs of the change.
Is the change you are introducing completely different than the current culture you have in your organization? If not how can you make mior t
In Chapter 9 Conner continues by talking about the fifth support pattern of Commitment to Change. Successful change is rooted in commitment and winners recognize the level of commitment needed for a change to be implemented well. They devote time, money, endurance, persistence, loyalty and the creativity needed to make sure it is successful. Conner says there is three stages to commitment: preparation, acceptance, and commitment:
In Chapter 8 Conner covers the next support pattern called Resistance to Change. He says people usually resist when they believe the challenges in front of them significantly differ from the capabilities that they have. This can result with a positive or a negative change.
Conner says that people can only change when they have the ability and willingness to change. To address the lack of ability one can provide training; while lack of willingness can be addressed through a combination of reward and punishment. Resistance is inevitable during change and can be expressed overtly (which is more constructive as it can be addressed) and covertly (which is often the result of low trust and inadequate participation). Resistance is best minimized by encouraging open expression of the resistance for resilient people and organizations learn and grow through the resistance.
Conner, leveraging the research of Dr. Kubler-Ross, says that there are 8 stages of resistance that people go through as they manage through a change:
Are you or your organization resisting change? If so what stage are you in? How can you build the resilience or resolve to work through the stages of resistance?
In chapter 7 Conner begins to describe the next support pattern called the Roles of Change. He says that there are four main roles in a change and that resilient people understand these roles and adapt to varying configurations of them. The four key roles are:
The sponsors role is critical to ensure that the change occurs. The good sponsor will have the following key traits: power, a vision, resources, a long view, a public role, monitoring plans (a way to keep track of progress of the change), and persistence. Being a sponsor takes time and effort and therefore a successful sponsor only sponsors a few major change projects at a time. He also says that sponsors need to continue to follow through on the change effort even when the going gets tough.
It is also important for there to be a level of consistency between what a sponsor says and the actions/day-to-day realities of its people (e.g. - if not it is what Connor calls a black hole) otherwise change will fail. He says the remedy for the black hole is to have cascading sponsorship or having the initiating sponsor enlisting the support of other key managers below him/her to support the change. All levels of sponsorship must demonstrate a strong level of commitment to the change in order for it to be successful.
What role are you playing in your change effort? Do you have the necessary sponsorship for the change to be successful? Are you enlisting all levels of sponsorship to truly make sure the change will occur?
In Chapter 6 Conner continues by talking about the next support pattern, the Process of Change, or the mechanisms of human transition. He says that people who adapt more slowly than others have a low tolerance for ambiguity and see life in black and white or yes and no terms. Resilient people, however, realize that change is fluid and that much of their time will be spent in transitions.
Conner outlines a three phase transition state first outlined by Kurt Lewin in 1958 which says that there are three states: the present state, the transition state, and the desired state. The present state is the status quo. The transition state is that state of uncertainty where we develop new attitudes and behaviors. This can be a scary time and people often revert back to the old state due to the sense of ambiguity. The desired state is new state.
To get through the phases Conner refers back to Charles Darwins theory of survival of the fittest. He says more organizations initiate change than actually successfully sustain it. He says winners are those resilient individuals or organizations who manage change at a speed that allows them effectively implement transition on time and on budget. He says one of the biggest differences of winners compared to losers is tenacity. He says that a burning platform is often a reason that organizations have that tenacity as it is the resolve, or usually a business imperative, that requires them to make a change.
A burning platform situation often occurs as a result of already being in pain or due to anticipated pain. If a change is introduced due to anticipated pain then the organization often has more time to make strategic moves. Commitment comes with the resolve. Conner continues by saying that any change not only needs pain, but also a remedy to solve the problem. In order to sell the change it is often necessary to orchestrate pain messages (or messages that generate enough incentive to want to create commitment to the change) as well as approach the change from the hopes, fears, and perceptions of multiple different frames of reference within the organization (e.g. - honor their perceptions of reality).
Are you in enough pain to change? Are you approaching the change from the frame of reference of many different people within your organization in order to "sell" it appropriately?
Monica Thakrar has over 18 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.