Second installment in the uncovering of truths via a reverse engineering of the failure of change and transformation programmes.
Many programmes are not programmes but a tsunami of activities. Each activity is like fireworks. Lots of people enjoying it, admiring it, and then going home at the last bung. Until the next one is called in. Here we go again.
A series of fireworks are not a programme to understand pyrotechnics, let alone learn about them. A series of fireworks are entertainment. Many ‘change transformation programmes’ are a series of entertaining activities, a music summer festival al fresco, a great social placebo that makes us feel that ‘something is happening’.
An offsite, away day, leadership conference, annual retreat, executive conference with no clear plan for ‘the day after’ is a corporate flash mob. Appear in time, leave in time, do something together in between, feel good. I am invited to many of those but I limit my presence to the ones that have a ‘day after plan’, whether I am part of it or not.
All those ‘one off things’ only make sense in the context of a structured journey. They are not the journey in themselves. They are the geographical points in the map with no itinerary. No journey, get fireworks, pray for change, enjoy your busy-ness.
These corporate flash mobs are not completely useless because, in fact, they are rituals. Rituals are hard to change and challenge. They provide the glue, the tribal check point of belonging, the Valium for corporate restlessness. This is what they achieve. Fair enough. And good enough, perhaps. Who knows? But let’s not pretend these are in themselves ‘a change programme’.
A leadership development programme is not a succession of workshops.
A change transformation programme is not a quarterly offsite.
A culture change is not repeated event management.
We can do better. It has to have purpose, and a sustainable 24/7 mobilizing platform that takes care of longevity.
Recap. Yesterday we saw  that, in fact, in many cases of failure, there were too many people involved, and too much debate, not the opposite. Today I offer the second post-mortem finding: fireworks and flash mobs disguised as change programme.
Three more to come.