To adapt our organisations to thrive in the Social Age will require a holistic pattern of adaptation: you cannot fix an ecosystem challenge with a single touch point. Reflecting on this got me thinking about projects, and more specifically whether projects are the enemy of change. Many aspects of organisational life are geared up around the definition of, procurement of, delivery of, and endpoint, of projects. And yet the real world, and the social systems that exist within it, have no start and end point. It’s possible that the unit of organisation we use most widely, the project, is itself both part of the resistance to change and part of the system we are trying to change.
I don’t wish to over dramatise, but there’s certainly something about the way that projects are delivered in isolation, whilst change requires an alignment of energy and holistic pattern of adaptation, or at least it does if you want it to bite.
I’ve been sharing the change work widely this week, really stressing that it is not about a new change process: building a Socially Dynamic organisation is a new model of business design, it’s a new type of entity in a new type of world, agile not through great effort, not through system or process, but rather through its deep social connection, fairness, and ability to act at speed without becoming breathless.
The Socially Dynamic Organisation is able to change because it is itself adapted to change: instead of creating a new process, we have created a new space. If we get it right, we create the fertile ground. But as we do so, it’s right to consider some of the unifying principles that have gone before. Do we still need teams that work like this? Projects that work like this? Even budgets that work like this? Do we still need old models of power and control? Old models of learning? Sometimes change is less about what you do that’s new, so much as what you stop doing that is old and redundant.