Much like cooking Boeuf à la Bourguignonne, successful organisational change requires that you use all of the ingredients, inject lots of care and passion, and don’t take any shortcuts:
1. Real, pressing and complex problem
Change happens when a team goes through a transformational process that requires personal engagement, group interdependency, collaboration and intense learning. This can only be achieved in the context of solving a real, pressing and complex business problem that has no clear solution at the outset.
No mickey mouse, nice to have projects. Rather, choose problems that are critical to achieving strategic success.
Furthermore, the team must be given the mandate to solve the problem.This does not necessarily mean that the team should be given free reign, but rather that they are given freedom to innovate and create within agreed boundaries (e.g. budget, resources, timelines, ROI etc.).
2. Diverse team with the right mix of skills and influence
Diversity is no longer about simply sitting on cross-functional teams. Unleashing™ requires diversity of thought. A good starting point is selecting a subset of all the potential sub-groups that are involved in the creation and use of the solution.
The objective of the team is two-fold:
- Come up with new insights and breakthrough solutions through the process of co-creation; and
- Develop into individual change agents that influence and carry the change over to their departments and the wider organisation.
It is important to select a team with the right mix of skills, expertise and influence.
In my experience, change is most successful when you choose members who:
- Have been part of any strategic work to date;
- Represent different relevant technical expertise;
- Have influence and respect amongst their colleagues;
- Represent different political and strategic views; or
- Are dedicated to improving the organisation and creating value for its customers and partners – not just personal career progression.
3. Learning through action
Many academic institutions and consulting organisations claim to be using Action Learning, but are actually not. To keep it simple, they have adapted the experiential learning process to be a test on an actual problem solving exercise, rather than giving the participants mandate to actually solve a problem or innovate in real time.
For learning to take place, an individual must go through an explorative journey, where they learn through real life action, making personal adjustments to the learned material, developing ownership and internalising new knowledge and behaviours. In this Act-Reflect-Adapt model planning is minimised and action through piloting, prototyping and other mechanisms of testing out new processes, products or services are given priority.
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