I was recently at the Instructional Systems Association (ISA) Annual Business Retreat and heard a speaker talk about how to get speed in organizaitonal change. She had recently published a book on the matter. She concludes that two major things slow change efforts down: 1) too much focus on pace and 2) too much focus on process. The latter made my blood boil.
While I agreed with many of her points about organizational change, this latter point was so far off base that I literally had to read the PowerPoint slide three times to really believe she was saying that. I raised my hand. She called on me. “It’s not that leaders put too much focus on process,” I said. “Rather, they put too much focus on BAD process.”
Leaders often overlay a linear project management regimen on their change efforts, attempting to control them and fit them into a predetermined timeline and set of actions. Yes, this slows change dramatically. But this does not mean that they should take their focus off process. All change IS process. What is required is for leaders to shift their mindset and worldview – to elevate their awareness and understanding of process – so they can lightly design the change process, navigate it with continual course corrections as emerging dynamics require, and not get wedded to a process plan ever, and certainly not the actions depicted on it more than 90 days out.
What do you think about this point? Do you think leaders need less focus on the conscious design of their change processes, or a different kind of focus?