In this mini series I have shared so far four inconvenient truths uncovered by the forensics of ‘change management’ failure:
- Too many people involved instead of two few
- Too much vision instead of lack of it
- Too many activities, no continuity plan, lots of fireworks
- Born to fail: high antibodies from day one
The fifth inconvenient truth is that, in fact, instead of the usual suspect and inevitable culprit of ‘lack of communication’, we communicate too much.
Entire transformation programmes, culture change and reorganizations/redesigns are based upon ‘Communication Programmes’. The narrative is perhaps well crafted, the messaging ready and conveyed, and the succession of workshops and roadshows in place. All rolling. All cascading down. All for an indisputable purpose.
So why is it that it does not do the trick and, in fact, it contributes to that awful 75% ‘failures of change’?
- Overcommunication saturates channels in the receptor. Translation: here we go again, Peter descending from HQ heaven with the PowerPoints, initiative 23 of this week. Whatever. (‘Whatever’ is the greatest American idiom export. If you hear ‘whatever’ in the staff receptors, you’ve lost the plot. In a British only context, if you hear ‘that is very interesting’, you can’t be sure that your proposition is anything but interesting.
- Communication is not change. If in doubt, picture thousands of billboards on highways, in shopping malls and on TV screens: ‘smoking kills’, ‘don’t drink and drive’, ‘get the flu vaccine’, ‘don’t give sugar to kids’. And then tell me about the effectiveness of communication-only-change. Behavioural change does not take place via communication campaigns. Unless push down communication campaigns are married to a pull bottom up, behavioural copying (‘network effect’), the only way behaviours scale up. Then the package is dynamite.
Too many people involved, too much vision, no continuity plan (no change platform), lots of one off fireworks/corporate (flash mob) activities, starting where there are more antibodies and, by the way, doing the whole thing via a top-down-mother-of-all-communication-programmes, will ensure you skilfully and healthily contribution to the maintenance and even growth of that 75% track record of ‘change programmes’ failing, which, in management, we are all so proud of.
We can do better.
Watch our Myths of...webinars, as Dr Leandro Herrero and his team of organizational architects, debunk uncontested assumptions and uncover the alternatives, whilst considering why this is even more relevant today in the current exceptional environment.
We have been running enterprises with very tired concepts of empowerment, ownership, accountability and other little challenged pillars. The truth is that there is mythology embedded in all those concepts. Old traditional management thinking will be unsuitable to win in the post Covid19 scenario.
Dr Leandro Herrero is the CEO and Chief Organization Architect of The Chalfont Project, an international firm of organizational architects. He is the pioneer of Viral ChangeTM, a people Mobilizing Platform, a methodology that delivers large scale behavioural and cultural change in organizations, which creates lasting capacity for changeability.
Dr Herrero is also an Executive Fellow at the Centre for the Future of Organization, Drucker School of Management. An international speaker, Dr Herrero is available for virtual speaking engagements and can be reached at: The Chalfont Project.
His latest book, The Flipping point – Deprogramming Management, is available at all major online bookstores.
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