6 Rules to Accelerate Organisational Change
Change is difficult – especially meaningful change. It’s always more convenient to take the easy path of sticking to what we already know, instead of pioneering new roads and winning new ground.
Meaningful change is also slow. No matter how hard you cultivate change, it takes time to introduce new patterns into a system as complex as a company, and for those new patterns to take hold and grow strong roots.
There are, however, some key practices that can accelerate organisational change, and help to make the transformation smoother.
Build on existing strengths
If you want to introduce new ideas and novel behaviour, look for seeds of that behaviour already present in your organisation. It’s much easier to build on existing strengths, instead of introducing something completely novel.
If you build on existing strengths, you are much less likely to encounter strong resistance, because you are simply cultivating something that is already present.
For example, if you want to improve the communication process and integration between different departments, look for departments that already have a strong communication process within their own team.
You can then simply expand their communication process to include additional staff members, or whole teams, in other departments.
It’s usually quite easy to find some existing strengths that will support the change you’d like to introduce, and you can learn to use them to your advantage.
Cultivate collaborative change
While change ultimately happens at the level of each individual, it can be strongly accelerated, or hindered, by the collective environment.
In order to use the collective to support desirable change, introduce novel ideas to entire teams at the same time, and then ask them to support each other in the process of switching over to the new behaviour.
That way everyone is in the same boat, and it’s easier to build up a momentum that will help new patterns to take root.
Introducing change into a group can actually be a lot of fun, since you can get team members to discuss the novel ideas amongst each other, and to remind and inspire each other on a daily basis.
Move towards a positive goal
All change involves movement away from old patterns. At the same time, it is directed towards new patterns.
Psychologically, it’s much better to emphasise the benefits of moving towards positive patterns, rather than dwelling on the negative aspects of the existing patterns you want to replace.
In other words, it’s easier to cultivate good new habits, rather than eradicate bad old habits. So learn to focus on what you want, and give energy to that, instead of focusing on what you don’t want.
It’s impossible to introduce meaningful change into a company without a strong communication process. Therefore make communication one of your core priorities.
When you introduce new ideas, start by communicating them to key influencers within your company. Once you have them on board, they will support the spread of these ideas to everyone else.
Also, since most companies are structured into departments and teams, an excellent approach is to introduce change one team at a time. The idea is to engage people with your planned change in a group setting, and then to foster communication within the team about the new ideas.
Once you are successful with one team, you can document the change and use that material as an example to help spread the change to other teams.
Celebrate successful change
When you see positive change happening, it’s very helpful to reinforce it with praise or even a reward system.
Many companies, unfortunately, have a very poorly developed reward structure, if any at all. And if there are rewards, they are often not designed to support change.
For example, if you want to promote collaboration between individuals and teams, it doesn’t make sense to only reward individual achievements, since you’re neglecting the role played by others in making those achievements possible.
So find a way to celebrate, praise, and reward any successful change that is achieved in your company.
In addition, it can be useful to create case studies about successful change – how was change achieved, and what effect did it have? And how did it achieve new results that are desirable for the company? You can use these case studies to support the change process in your organisation.
Get used to change
Human beings, unfortunately, seem to be programmed to avoid, or even resist change. However, in today’s rapidly evolving world, continuous change is not only inevitable, it is also absolutely essential for any company that wants to stay competitive.
Change is never finished. Once you have achieved breakthroughs in one area, you might discover weaknesses in other areas. Or, a dynamically changing economy and/or your company growth may force you to adjust your organisational culture.
So, instead of seeing change as a necessary evil that needs to be dealt with every now and then, learn to embrace it as an opportunity to grow. Instead of avoiding change, start looking for opportunities for positive transformation on a daily basis.
Hopefully, these six principles will help you to accelerate change in your organisation.
If you’re planning to create a company with sustainable long-term growth, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, cultivating the ability to change your organisation on an ongoing basis is absolutely essential in order to succeed.