That ‘big change requires big actions’ is the commonly held belief that is behind the majority of so-called ‘large interventions’ or comprehensive, massive, expensive change management programmes. It is ‘logically’ assumed that a significant change in the organisation (whether it’s change of culture, ways of doing, etc. or a completely new direction) needs proportional efforts. And proportionate here means massive.
This model is consistent with ‘linear thinking’ or ‘linear dynamics’, something very much embedded in our way of managing organisations. The reality is that we are surrounded by a non-linear world, where there is no apparent proportionality in the cause-effect as we see it. For example, in organisational terms, trust is not a terribly linear thing! Small things can generate high trust and small breaches can destroy it completely. There is no proportionality there! (‘It’s not fair’ either!)
Interestingly we all have examples of day-to-day life where ‘small things’ create havoc. I often warn my clients of this ‘tyranny of small things’: some rules, some bureaucracy, a few people creating disruption. We are used to this dis-proportionality around us, but seem to have difficulty accepting that management of change also travels on disproportioned highways.
The Viral Change Mobilizing Platform knows all of the above very well and banks on the power of a small set of levers, behaviours, that can generate great change in a non-linear way. And we know that the organisation highways for these behaviours contain things such as imitation, diffusion, infection and tipping points.
Somehow that linear model, at the core of traditional Change Management programmes, was using the wrong maths: the maths of addition. However, the maths of change at scale are the maths of multiplication. For example, a relatively small number of highly connected people, have the power to scale behavioural change. In the network, a highly connected node is worth many connections.
Organizational change and Organization culture shaping are forms of social movements. They follow its laws. It’s grassroots management (multiplication) not cascade training (addition). Grassroots get big, but hardily starts big.