Dimensions of Change: Imperative, Permission and Engagement

I’ve been working around change this week: exploring how an organisation builds a change culture. This sketch outlines a co-created and co-owned model of change that’s fit for the Social Age.

Dimensions of Change

We need executive sponsorship: without clarity of action from the top, there is no imperative for change to occur. But change can’t be driven from the top: it needs to be co-created and co-owned throughout.

At the bottom of the hierarchical structure are people with no remit or permission: we need to create spaces and permissions for them to be agile, to co-create and own parts of the change agenda. But that in itself is not enough.

In the middle sit the layer who are infra-structurally rewarded for the status quo: people who are invested and rewarded by the current structure. To change here, we need engagement with change, which should be magnetic: it’s about creating spaces for people to build reputation and relevance in the new structure.

If it’s done right, it looks like this: Imperative from the top, permission to the bottom and engagement through the middle.

If we get it wrong, it looks like this: awareness at the top, meaningless at the bottom and stasis in the middle.

Where does your organisation sit? How will you change it?

Models include the use of storytelling to build shared purpose, the use of communities of change to give permission and also a recognition of the evolved social contract that impacts on engagement. We also need Social Leadership to provide the community based leadership through change.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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34 Responses to Dimensions of Change: Imperative, Permission and Engagement

  1. Amanda Brooks says:

    Thanks Julian….

    So, so powerful and helpful in the context of my current learning and action. It’s like you dropped from heaven!!! 👼

    Amanda B Sent from my iPhone


  2. I appreciate these thoughts, Julian – a nice compliment to “The co-ownership of change” post of yours. While the initial energy pushing the change can come from any number of sources, I agree that leadership has the responsibility to articulate their imperative with clarity. Where real ownership across the organization forms is in the opportunity to co-create the vehicle(s) for change, as you discuss. Often these are the steps where good ideas die: leadership with unclear messaging on PURPOSE, and lack of true, meaningful inclusion. Margaret Wheatley says it so well: “What is lacking are not case examples or processes but the commitment to involve everybody. We keep hoping we don’t need to – that if we design a good plan, people will accept it on its merits…If we want their support, we must welcome them as co-creators.” (From “Working with Life’s Dynamics in School Systems.”) Cheers.

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