I’ve been developing the Change Curve Framework, which positions organisations in one of three places: ‘Resistant‘ to change, where they kill change conversations early, ‘Constrained‘, where they want to change but resort to control, and ‘Dynamic‘, where change is amplified, co-created and co-owned. As part of this framework i introduced the Dynamic Change model, which expands out four stages: how the organisation frames the change, how change is co-created to allow people to be invested in the future state, how we need to constantly adapt to action in the field and how we narrate the journey. Today, i’m exploring the second part of that model: co-creating change.
At the heart of the Dynamic Change approach is providing the opportunity for individuals to co-create and be invested in the future state. This is the difference between a story that is written by the organisation and imposed on us as individuals, and a story that is co-written by individuals alongside the organisation. A co-written story may operate within an organisationally defined framework, but will provide space for chapters to be written by individuals and teams.
Essentially it’s about letting people have vision and control over the future: the ability to take ownership being a function of engagement, and engagement being a function of success.
If the organisation keeps hold of the future story too closely, it will risk dropping back down the Change Curve to become constrained. If the story is too strongly defined by individuals, then we lose the organisational framework, and it’s not longer Dynamic. The balance of these two things is what we are trying to achieve: a story that is co-created, framed by the organisation and co-owned between the two.
But change is about more than talk: the point isn’t simply to co-create a vision of the future, it’s to take concrete steps to achieve it. In a co-created model, we are linking individual activity to creation of the future state. The point is to make explicit the links, so that individual activity, day to day and week to week is helping take small steps on the road to change. What we do today impacts on the shape of tomorrow, but with us maintaining a degree of control. Change that we create, not change that is done to us.
That’s how the Dynamic Change model works: a broad pathway of change, with each individual step co-created, co-owned, assessed and reviewed, then shared back into the tribal knowledge framework.
We can use active storytelling approaches to do this ‘anchoring‘ of individual story to organisational change, for example, using a co-created magazine that is written by the community week by week as they take ownership of, set direction for and enact change activity. The organisations role becomes not content creation, but rather adding a layer of context around these stories. To frame them around the organisational change.
Overall, it should be clear by now that the Dynamic Change model is called ‘dynamic‘ for a reason: it’s a succession of frames, permissions and spaces, within which the organisation achieves agility.
The direction of travel is set, but the exact route is co-created and the steps we take along the way are co-owned. Individuals both shape the journey and share the workload along the way. In later articles i’ll explore how we adapt our behaviour and effort as the story unfolds, then share the individual and co-created story back into the organisation. So, over time, we build the collaborative, tacit, tribal capability of the whole organisation. Match this alongside developing Social Leadership and Social Learning approaches to performance support and agility gets written into the organisational DNA.
As ‘Individual Action‘ is taken, we #WorkOutLoud into our communities, sharing what we are planning, what we are doing, and what we have achieved. This opens our individual efforts up to the ‘sense making‘ functions of community: able to challenge and support us, able to steer and guide us, able to offer support and amplification to our story. It also links intrinsically into propagating the organisations framing of the direction of travel: the more we share our story, the better it is understood, the stronger it becomes and the more amplification it receives.
By gaining community alignment with the change, we lose an element of control, but gain a measure of momentum, and the control that we lose is illusory anyway: people will always find a way to share their stories. This way we just get to hear them and benefit from the wisdom.