Today we’re introducing a new feature called Work in Progress.
Organizational transformations are complex endeavors that can unfold in a myriad of ways. There’s never a single correct answer to any scenario and we thought it would be interesting, and potentially useful, to tap the wisdom of our network and community in exploring how to respond to organizational challenges.
The basic idea is that we will periodically share a short scenario that is representative of the type of issues we experience in working with our clients (they will always be an amalgamation of projects and experiences in order to preserve client confidentiality, obviously). We will then invite anyone who reads the scenario to send us a snippet about how they would respond to it. We will comb through the responses and share the most thought-provoking and interesting ones — along with a smattering of responses from other members of The Ready.
Our hope is to show that there’s more than one way to spark an organizational transformation and that adhering to the general principles of People Positivity and Complexity Consciousness allows for a great diversity of specific tactical approaches.
Let’s get started with our first Work in Progress entry, courtesy of The Ready member Gary Shaw.
“The transformation work was going well. We successfully introduced a series of small moves to build momentum for new ways of working. We helped stand up new self-organizing teams that quickly got busy conducting useful experiments to reduce friction and break down bureaucratic behaviors and hierarchical structures. They got used to working out loud. The leadership team started thinking about how to scale the effort beyond the few teams who were involved so far. They began by developing a new operating model, a blueprint for what it could look like if the transformation kicked into high gear. True to its principles, the leadership team understood that the approach would necessitate running larger, more high profile pilots to test the viability and value of the model.
The trouble was that the fraction of people required to staff these pilot teams was still quite small. We increased our capacity to stand up more teams. But this took time, which meant that most of the organization was effectively watching the transformation effort from the sidelines. Many were enthusiastic but had no way to engage; others were apathetic. Either way, we were facing significant challenges in ushering in a lean and adaptive future state. The leadership team was concerned that the momentum for change would stall. Or worse. They had noted that cynicism about progress could take hold quickly and have a deeply corrosive effect.
What to do when the desire for involvement outpaces our capacity to guide it?”
How would you navigate this part of an organization’s transformation journey? What would you do next? What would you be thinking about? What would you be curious about?
Update (7/18/2019): The follow-up article where we synthesized the responses we received while sharing our own take on the challenge can be found here.