Rowing is largely about inertia: no matter how hard an individual stroke, the boat rapidly slows. One great pull may shift you a few metres, but it still leaves you in the middle of the lake. Rowing is partly about strength, but largely a matter of incremental effort. Slow and steady may win the day.
Organisational change is like that two, with one vital difference: you have to build the boat first.
I’m interested in two aspects of change: co-creation (where you build the boat) and co-ownership (where you paddle it). I’ve explored co-creation before, seeing it as the process of social learning and collaboration that we experience within community, an iterative and refining process of editing our messages and thinking. Co-creation in terms of organisational change is about building the boat: sharing an understanding of where we are going and, quite possibly, refining the destination dependent upon inputs from the community. Co-created change is powerful, as it’s owned both emotionally and intellectually by the team.
Once we start trying to effect change, co-ownership is about actions and responsibility. Change does not rain down from on high: it’s about the actions and integrity of everyone at every level.
It ties into ideas of individual, co-created and organisational narrative: how are each created and how do they relate to each other. And, critically, how can we ensure greater speed and integrity of change?
I believe that by viewing change as both co-created and co-owned, we have a greater potential to fundamentally shift an organisational capability in the Social Age. Under a new social contract, without this shared understanding and responsibility, we are just pushing against thin air. We can’t get traction. Change is not just a task based activity: it has to be owned. Together.