Organisational Change Consultants
Most persistent problems that call for input from organisational change consultants do not have a clear right answer. The consultant will deliver most value by being a “learning architect”. This means providing the social settings that lead to resolution of differences, new insights, and change.
In many change assignments, the consultant is expected to act an interim change manager and the client acts as student, absorbing what the consultant offers. This management consulting model is based on a need for predictability and control which arises from a fear of change.
This not a good starting position for a change initiative and to a large extent failure is baked into the change project from the get-go.
Moving the operating model from teaching to learning
It is in the struggle to create and in the effort to understand that learning happens. Therefore, the change process must build in elements of surprise and discovery, where “not knowing” is embraced.
For performance improvement to permeate an organisation, the culture will need to value struggle over prescription, questions over answers, tension over comfort, and potential over deficiency.
The best long-term outcomes emerge in the effort to understand the truth from both sides. The struggle is the change process.
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“How” Organisational Change Consultants Get Stuck
The problem with “how” questions is that they will not move your project forward. They almost always reflect an intent to try harder at what is already not working. This approach will not deliver organisational change.
So, regard questions like these as warning signs of a non-learning approach:
How long will it take?
How do we make them accept the change?
How do we communicate it to them?
How do we measure impact?
The only reason questions like these are so appealing is because they are way too simple and ask for very little.
Moving beyond the “How” of change
Organisational systems are complex. And to move the system, the organisational change consultant must help the client to question what they are doing and why they are doing it.
Questions that lead to the learning that can enable change include:
What is the point of what you are doing?
What must stop happening for something new to emerge?
What would happen if you did nothing?
What are the capacities that are not currently being used?
What personal meaning do people derive from being here?
These are difficult questions. But it is in the dialogue generated by these questions that change happens.
The challenge of being an effective Organisational Change Consultant
The consultant’s anxiety is that by asking questions around meaning, and that by making the case for extended reflection, they will be criticised for being impractical and not business focussed.
However, I know that my mistakes happen when I get trapped by this anxiety and revert to the safety of detailed action plans and lists. By holding the tension in a creative zone, organisational change consultants will serve their clients better.
Tight structures are not the key. For most change initiatives, it is courage that is in short supply.
The Change Discovery Process
Each element of the process must carry within it an element of the destination while building the ability to see the whole in each element.
The effective organisational change consultant will help the client to see the organisational culture in each meeting and conversation.
This is the type of change management process that enables lasting impact.
Read about our change management services
To discuss your organisational change requirements, book a no-obligation meeting with Geoff