Do you feel like you need to change?

With this article I want to highlight that change is the only constant factor in organizations. However, changing, requires cooperation, self-management and commitment and must lead to a tangible improvement! Compare it to playing together in a football match at this special Corona time. Once you and your team members don’t feel involved (anymore), then all the new policies, directive rather than serving leadership, will only result in a false consensus and bureaucracy. And you can’t score together either!

The number of customers/visitors is decreasing and the number of complaints and dissatisfaction is increasing. There is a minimal budget, a vacancy summit and temporary contracts have not been renewed. Yes, something has to change in your customer-oriented organization. The bottlenecks are clear to everyone.

Your manager will communicate how the necessarily change process is organized in terms of planning, capacity and a kick-off is planned to get everyone “onboard”. So far so good.

Often external guidance is hired, for the expertise and the strange-eyes-forcing effect with specific attention for the leaders to fulfill their role differently. Still the expected improvement doesn’t come and the follow-up of all action points is downright difficult. A lot stays the same, which everyone likes. Of course it can always be better, but the satisfaction of customers/visitors increases again and colleagues do not run away so quickly in this Corona time. How do you explain to yourself that you’re not satisfied, you don’t experience improvement and it feels like old wine in new bottles?

“Where did I miss the exit?”, you might ask. What I often see when dealing with change in organizations, is strategy-structure-culture-thinking. I mean, first to name mission, vision and strategic goals and to find quick-wins by problematizing the current situation and from there position the new ambition. I see this in both business and non-profit environments, for example the changed need of healthcare institutions to actively involve clients/patients in their treatment plan. The focus in the (non-) profit organizations is on how to organize the change, to put down the new structure and then also the desired cultural change should be realized. And surely this should lead to a better realization of the goals? But where is the focus on what is already going well? Because with the strategy-structure-culture-thinking alone, you run the risk of damaging the learning and self-organizing character of the organization/club/team. And you and your teammates lose the enthusiasm and commitment? Because if you want to work on organizational development, did you thought about what-is-already-going-on?

But not everything is going well by itself. And introducing self-managing teams and leadership (remote/”on distance”) who need to “let go” more is not the only recipe for success. For some team members, this can even lead to non-commitment. Keeping the quality of the work level (in terms of knowledge/play/behavior) if you also accept each other on (additional) input, stimulate and discipline each other in how you want to be of value to your customers. The new normal in this days gives a different interpretation to “letting go”, namely as an “otherwise hold”. You need the connection with each other to be able and want to score. Looking at what fits best at that moment. After all, people, interactions and environments are constantly changing. 

The trick here is not to let this moving interaction game be limited by only fancy ambitions to change and (re)organize. Every day we are reading in our (social) media many examples of organizations becoming unnecessarily bureaucratic, complex and inflexible. And we still believe that we can only prevent this complexity by introducing the learning organization/self-managing teams.

This belief is putting us on the wrong leg. After all, every person is able to organize the work as ‘by itself’ without the need for guidance from above. Every person naturally possesses a self-organizing ability; one feels more comfortable in the front and the other more from the back. That’s not a new management concept.

The main hit is this: you don’t need to implement the learning organization and self-managing teams, because you are already self-learning and you are playing the ball together towards the goal.

So: Consciously take what is already running by itself as a starting point. Do you want to assume from me that this is the core of life play and the development of organizations and teambuilding? That’s where the inspiration is, to work together and respond together to the changing environment. This lead to organizations with more fun and staying contemporary, with committed people who like to contribute by putting their best foot forward!

But how do you want to achieve this? We now live in a time frame where we are constantly encouraged to respond to the uncertain future and get to work quickly, otherwise we will lose the game. As a result, we are busy with changes in organizations by translating them into visions, action plans and projects. In addition, we make many assumptions to be able to quickly analyze and reach to conclusions.

And how often it doesn’t bring you towards a well-known preferred solution? The harder you deny this, the more you confirm this! If we don’t stay alert, you’re going to miss out on the most important skills needed in this change, as investigations, reflections and unbiased understanding. So keep yourself proficient to look as openly as possible at how it works here and NOW. With all the pros and cons.

This means taking the (foot) ball, going up the “field” and playing along, paying attention, watching from all angles, asking questions and keep listening. Capture your experiences and perceptions. Invest time and effort. And try to find out what’s really going on and what ambition is worth it. Above all, wait for the formulation of visions of the future or ‘joint dreams’. Don’t waste time building visions or getting others involved in those visions. Instead, focus on researching how it really works. So walk and talk with the colleagues. Get to know the game better and what drives everyone to commit to their work every day. Be curious and show real interest in the experiences. Stand in their shoes to live and feel better what has touched and made them.

How simple is this: find out what people are warming up to, and what they’re breaking down on. Focus on how everything interacts with each other on its own.

Effective change starts with taking this self-starting ability as a starting point for development. If you follow fits, this makes ambitions more realistic and more achievable. And it makes organizations less complex, but more playful and resilient.

An organization of value not only today but also in the future. And life-long-learning from equality and intrinsic motivation when it comes to looking unbiased at the character of the work, at the motivations of everyone’s individual involved in a team and how they interact with each other.

Finally: everything starts with looking openly at yourself and awareness that you experience from your frame of reference, just as the other person does. Challenge yourself and the other respectfully encouraging! And lots of fun….