Shape Your Organization for Effective Change

organizational change

No organization is ever where a leader wants it; there is always something that needs to be different. In fact, this is a very healthy perspective. First of all, an organization needs to be different just to stay relevant. Secondly, all organizations have weaknesses; identifying and dealing with them is like working with fractals.

Fractal: a rough geometric shape. The closer you look at its borders the more similar variations in the borders are exposed. No matter how much you zoom in on the borders, they never become smooth.

Similarly, in your organization, the more weaknesses you see and fix, the more details you pay attention to, and the more weaknesses you find. This is the path of continuous improvement and Six Sigma.

Improving a process or product involves a cold version of change. The steps, functions, or capabilities are manipulated like a math equation to bring about different results, and it can happen very quickly. But what about change that involves people, behaviors, and culture? This type of change is much more personal and intimate; it requires shaping to bring about effective results.

Shaping can only originate from the leader of an organization. It requires their personal touch and investment to make it happen. Let’s look at what specifics you as a leader need to know to shape your organization into a highly functioning one:

  • Shaping implies constant gradual change. If the right pace of change is not acquired, your chance of success is limited. Too much at one time will damage your organization due to fear and panic. Too little will not sustain change and callous your organization to it.
  • Because the change is going to take some time, make sure you establish in detail a far-off vision for what you want your organization to look and act like. Then detail small shavings of change that will act as stepping stones to your vision.
  • Each shaving needs a point person. Most you can delegate to your trusted staff, but some you will need to keep for yourself due to the importance or potential resistance within your organization.
  • As you begin to shape your organization do not be surprised when your organization regresses. Some changes have a strong memory and slowly revert back to their old ways. When this happens put the required effort into getting things back in line and then keep your eye on them, apply effort to ensure the change sticks.
  • As the leader, you are the only person who can keep you vision alive and keep your organization moving towards it. You have to be extremely diligent and disciplined. If you don’t pay attention to it, your organization won’t either. Your vision may atrophy and die as a result.

As I said earlier, when you decide to shape your organization you are in it for the long haul. What will be fun for you is looking back at the end of each year and seeing that change does make a difference. Most people will not notice it like you do because it was a shaping process. That’s OK, it’s the different results you desired and will get credited for.