Lean, Six Sigma, Prosci, and other formulized change management methodologies all offer an orderly set steps to take—a recipe for ending waste, improving productivity, and otherwise accomplishing desired changes. There are, of course, several recipes from organization development practitioners that offer recipes. John Kotter’s eight steps are very popular. There are several versions of the stages of planned change that that typically include entry, contracting, data-gathering, intervention, and evaluation in one set of words or another. So what’s the problem?
The problem is that practical work of creating change where people are involved requires dealing with the anxiety, uncertainty, volatility, and emotionality that invariably show up when people are trying to get something done together. At those points in time, the rationality of structured formulations are not very useful. Creating change in human systems is as often as not a stressful process at any point in time. Under stress human beings tend to automatically operate in patterns that were set in during growing-up years. Some of those automatic reactions may be useful in the current situation and many will not be. In addition, the automatic patterns of some are likely to be in conflict with the patterns of others. These are situations were rationality is limited. Limited, particularly, because everyone believes that he or she is the only one being fully rational. Of course, I am over-simplifying.
Those of us who desire to be effective managing change involving human systems need something less formulaic and more amenable to creating alignment toward desired change. What is needed is n
ot recipes but a shift in perspective, of our fundamental thoughts process toward a way that we can be with human systems that allows their members to align with each other to create the improvements in engagement and productivity they want.
To do just that Edie and Charlie Seashore and I put together eight disciplines or principles to help the students we’ve had be able to actually practice what they had learned academically. They are:
- Conscious Use of Self: Consciously choose to switch off automatic and unproductive energy-sponging behaviors like worrying, complaining, blaming, and fighting–allowing you to consciously choose behaviors that you’ll find more productive and satisfying. And, help others to do the same.
- Understanding Human Systems: Experience how everything you do impacts those around you. Then consciously choose behaviors that will support the changes you want in your human systems. And, help others to do the same.
- Critical Mass & Personal Support Systems: Realize that there is nothing of any significance that any of us has accomplished by ourselves. In turn, develop the systems of support that will allow you to accomplish personal and systemic goals. And, help others to do the same.
- Sound and Current Data: Consciously choose to be curious rather than automatically presuppose, as we too often do, that our assumptions and interpretations are facts. And, help others to do the same.
- Systemic and Interpersonal Feedback: Do you cringe when someone says to you, “May I give you some feedback?” Learn new ways to receive feedback without upset and how to give feedback to greatest effect. And, help others to do the same.
- Power as Energy: Discover how to shift from control-oriented win/lose power dynamics to the more practical perspective of power-as-energy which allows satisfaction for all. And, help others to do the same.
- Learning from Differences: Consciously learn from the differences that our egos automatically reject. Learn more about yourself and those who share your human systems. And, help others to do the same.
- Empowerment: Become aware of your own magnificence and support others to do the same.
- Find out more about each from the Dragon Principle Webinar Series that starts on January 24th. I’m offering an introductory webinar (no charge) on Wednesday, January 18th. It would be great to meet you there! Go to chumans.com/webinar for more information!
Michael F Broom, CEO, The Center for Human Systems
About Michael F. Broom, Ph.D.
I’m an organizational psychologist with 39 years of experience with all kinds of people and organizations. I’m the author of The Infinite Organization, and Power, The Infinite Game (with Donald Klein), and the upcoming The Dragon Principles. Formerly of Johns Hopkins University, I founded the Center for Human Systems and am a Lifetime Achievement Award honoree of the OD Network.