Resistant organisations are ones that actively deny change: they identify change conversations and disempower them, starving them of permission and resource, closing the doors to thinking or acting differently. Resistant organisations are destined to fail, unable, as they are, to adapt to the evolved ecosystem of the Social Age. As leaders within such a business, our challenges are not simply ones of system, process or learning: they are challenges of culture and mindset. Resistant organisations don’t want to change and will deploy antibodies to kill the conversations off.
The model that i’ve shared to overcoming resistance is intended to help us move the organisation from being fully resistant to being open to change: it’s not the whole answer. It’s the foundation for the answer. We do this by segmenting the resistance, countering each of the sixteen elements, creating agency in parts of the population and, finally, embedding the embryonic change communities. At the end of this process, we move from being resistant to change, to be open to it.
This part of the model deals with how we carry out that embedding process: leaving a legacy of spaces to talk in, stories of change to share, with a network of strong amplifiers and awarding our first socially moderated recognition and reward. Let’s look at each of these in turn.
One of the first steps we carried out to erode the resistance was to find external spaces for our conversations: spaces free of existing limitation. We used these to embed our embryonic change agents, our early adopters. We used them to create a safe space to be curious, to question, to challenge. In the early stages, we have to use Bridging Conversations to loop back into the organisation.
But to truly become Dynamic, we have to bring the community into the organisation itself: we need to cross the bridge back into the real world!
The reason for creating the external space is to draft new permissions and free ourselves of the restrictions we feel in existing ones. With these new spaces in place, we can engage in new ways and explore the future together. With these spaces, we can segment and overcome the sixteen Resistors to change. But once that is in process, we can migrate the conversations back inside. Why? Because the intention was never for them to be external: they simply needed to hatch in a safe space. As they mature, as the community finds it’s shape and purpose, finds it’s power and cohesion, it can handle the lingering resistance, it can exist internally, not bound by questions of whether it even has a permission to exist.
The migration of the community back into the organisation itself is not one of packing boxes and loading trucks: it’s a consensual attraction, more a case of creating space and allowing the community to find a natural home. It’s worth remembering that communities are conversations, not technologies, so just implementing a technology won’t assure the community moves, but making clear that a space exists may. These transition points are challenging: we don’t want to (don’t have a permission to) arbitrarily move a community, but we can create the conditions for it to migrate.
One part of this will be through the use of the stories we tell: as we transition back to the organisation, travelling back across the bridge, we can share our stories of what we have achieved and what we are now in a position to tackle. As each devolved group has overcome it’s resistors, found it’s power and solved some problems, there are stories to be told. The telling of these stories can be anchored to the new, internal space. By nature, if these stories form the socially awarded badges of recognition, they may help draw the conversation back.
The community that we bring back to the organisation at this stage is not wide, but it’s deep: the people who have invested thought and time in addressing our early requests for engagement. These may be our amplifiers: the shining lights we can use to draw out the rest.
I’ll explore this aspect further tomorrow.