Often you see people in organizations disillusioned with changes, considering themselves survivors of yet another reorg, getting on with the day-to-day, abandoning themselves a little to whatever happens next on Monday morning.
They use expressions such as ‘I’ve seen it all’, or ‘nothing surprises me anymore’. Or they have learnt to recite anxiolytic one-liners such as ‘the only thing that is constant is change’, or ‘the only certain thing is uncertainty’.
These corporate memes are the Valium of organizational transformation. Frequent use produces the side effects of resignation and passivity. Save yourself another Employee Engagement survey if you hear a lot of this around.
The truth is that there are lots of new things under the organizational and managerial sun. But we work with strong sunglasses on, in our project teams, our leadership development programmes and our consulting engagements. There have never been so many new and exciting ideas around, so many examples of trial an error, and so many opportunities to experiment with better ways of people working together.
The trouble is that the old toolkits are still on offer in traditional business schools and traditional Big Consulting, and we seem to lack the imagination to reinvent ourselves. We are still running very linear and ‘logical’ organizations.
Albert Einstein said that ‘Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere’.
The rather gloomy paragraph in the Ecclesiastes book, the atheist’s favourite Bible part, ‘Nothing new under the sun’, is a fantastic alibi to declare our imagination on holiday.
It’s a good reflection for leaders. How much of this ‘inevitable organization’ or ‘inevitable change’ one wants to lead. How much can be shaped and anticipated. How much ahead of the game and risky, or behind the game and safe.
The trick is how to create an organizational DNA that will deal with the challenges that do not exist yet.
For this, sunglasses and Valium, are not a very good idea.