Jump, Rinse, Repeat: Why do we keep implementing change like this?

[caption id="attachment_8828" align="alignright" width="300"] Source: istockphoto.com[/caption]

Everyone, it seems, is talking about change and the need to change.  But somehow we keep repeating a familiar pattern.  It’s like going to the edge of a 50-foot cliff and jumping when all you’ve witnessed are others ahead of you jumping away.  As a result, you don’t see what they did before they jumped, what the landing area looks like, or what happened when they landed!

Are we focused on the right things when implementing change?

In a recent article I wrote for the Cutter IT Journal, The Agile CMMI Conversation is a Dead End, I professed that the focus on best practices in many domains won’t go way because we are still focused on the wrong things.  Do change efforts focused on delivering best practices that worked somewhere else solve the main problem?  Not always.  So how long do they last before they are abandoned because of lack of results or a change in management?  Do these packages of best practices provide a full solution?

I’m not the only one questioning what we are trying to change in our organizations.  In The Going Lean Field Guide, author Stephen Ruffa writes that “too many chase the latest fads and don’t consider decades of accumulated knowledge.”

Why is this?  Is it lack of real leadership?

In a recent blog post, Reflections on What It Means to Be a Leader, blogger Samantha Hall raises many thought provoking ideas about what it means to be a leader.  Maybe leaders need to take to heart the idea that Hall raises in her post, “We need REAL leadership that is ABOUT the people and FOR the people!”

How might we do this?

To quote Stephen Ruffa again from The Going Lean Field Guide, he advocates:

“Shift from a system driven by top-down control and outcome-based measures to one that draws on increasing insights, capabilities, and authority of the workforce, enabling direct accountability and visibility of value creation at each step in its buildup.”

In the end, I believe we need to be more about unleashing the creativity, intellect, and passion of everyone in our organizations.  It is my belief that a group of empowered people will outperform any group of experts or any collection of best practices.

Change-Friendly Leadership in 10 Minutes

My work at 5 Minutes to Process Improvement Success, where I interview top practitioners to talk about their best strategies, has resulted in an interesting phenomenon.  The interviews seem to resonate with many people who are then motivated to contact me.  They talk about how their talents are being vastly underutilized and how much they would like to make a more of a difference.  We’ve all seen it and probably experienced it.  One person who reached out to me is Marie Maher who is a contributor to this post.

Marie and I recently teamed up on writing a book review of Change-Friendly Leadership by Dr. Roger Dean Duncan.  Because we share a passion for improving organizations and making them places where people can make a contribution, we thought it would be a worthwhile read.  We wanted to relate the book to our own experiences from our perspective of often being on the front line of many change projects.

Marie and I gained many valuable ideas from reading the book.  Although some chapters offer more depth than some readers will want to consume, the book is filled with great ideas and techniques that will help any change project be more friendly and successful.

Marie’s excellent book review of Change-Friendly Leadership is posted here.  Bill’s book highlights were captured and posted here.

What's been your experience?  If you agree we are chasing too many fads, how do you think we can solve this problem?

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