Introducing momentum is the thing: starting the ball rolling. Inertia is the enemy of change, but overcoming it can be overwhelming. In the Social Age, the ecosystem is in our favour though: amplification and momentum are inherent in socially led approaches. Engage with communities, build reputation and social authority, lead socially and effect co-created change. Simple. Well, almost…
It’s a matter of balance: formal structure and a clear strategic imperative aligned with socially moderated thinking and leadership. The organisation creates the space: the community gives it momentum within a frame.
I’m fascinated by the changes underway in the NHS right now: the Healthcare Radical approach is empowering individuals throughout (and alongside) the formal structure to champion change. The very word ‘radical‘ is emotive and using it in an organisational context, brave. The foundation of the project is to educate widely in the mechanisms and dynamics of change (through a formally recognised online learning programme) and to use ‘pledges‘ to change at a grass roots level. The bravery is in the way it moves responsibility and the shape of that change, to an extent, into the community. Instead of doing change to people, the knowledge about change is permeated through a community of change agents, who are self selecting.
This dynamic is important: instead of using formal hierarchies to drive change, there is a self selecting social structure, running right through the organisation.
I think there is great potential for Social Leadership driven approaches to change, co-created and co-owned throughout the organisation. Supporting individuals in building reputation and hence social authority, letting them use that authority to drive local change that builds to a shared story of change throughout.
Ideally, it’s both formal and social elements operating in harmony. Motivation for change may be partly political, economic or strategic, but there are equally important community drivers: people just look around and see that things can be different. Under the Healthcare Radical approach, engagement at this stage is with nodes, with people who amplify the messages and drive consensus around change.
Only at this stage does change really occur: the reality of change on the ground, which is then shared in personal and co-created group narratives.
There is a lot we can learn from this approach to apply more widely: the very fact that most of the knowledge i have around this is socially derived, not learnt through formal papers and websites. People are proud of the change they have affected, and that pride is matched by the social reputation and authority that they are rewarded with.
Contrast this with the types of change programmes i often find in financial institutions or manufacturing, which still tend to be largely secretive and imposed affairs with roadmaps and corporate videos. I can’t honestly say i’ve ever felt much enthusiasm around these events.
The very entity of an ‘organisation‘ is a fiction: organisations are groups of individuals collaborating with a culture that they co-create and co-own. It stands to reason that the most effective way to change this is through engagement at every level, and by empowering those individuals to be part of the change, both how it’s shaped and how it’s enacted.
The first thing i would emulate is the approach of creating the Healthcare Radical community: training people to be subversive within a framework to empower them to enact change.
Brave and effective.