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There’s no change without management ownership

Posted by Stephen Parry on Apr 12, 2016 10:03:23 PM

Change programs are generally very popular with upper management types. And the pattern is almost always the same; they pick one, implement it - including its almost requisite goals for employee empowerment and resultant employee productivity - and then sit back and pat themselves on the back: Mission accomplished.

And long after the dust settles everyone goes back to the way they’ve always done things these managers can claim at their next evaluation how they are dynamic leaders intent on Organizational Change (capitals mine).

Of course, in the wake of the flurry of memos about the impending changes, new processes and ways of thinking, something very curious happens.

Specifically, nothing.

Why doesn’t anything change? There are many reasons. But most often it's because the leader expected everyone else to do the changing without providing any meaningful direction.

It reminds me of the Ross Perot story. Back in the 80s he sold his EDS company to GM, who were looking for a taste of the then-au courant dynamic organizational culture the company was famed for. Perot drove himself to work, ate in the cafeteria with the employees and walked the lines talking to his workers. At the time, this blurring of the corporate culture lines was revolutionary.

Famously, the experiment failed, because GM management only wanted the cache of change, not actual change itself. Within a year or so Perot left the company and management welcomed the perks of power - company drivers and executive dining rooms.

The clear takeaway then, as it is today, is change isn’t a store-shelf product that can be installed out of a box. It has to be built. More importantly the person who initiates the change, must also own the change.

And if top management does not own the change, the only real results will be a few heavily padded CVs.

Topics: Methods, Change Leadership