Organisational transformation is often a formidable challenge, typically met with resistance and scepticism. However, by understanding and leveraging the interplay between people, change and systems, leaders can increase the chances of navigating transformation successfully.
Let’s start here: every organisation is a web of interconnected relationship systems. Teams are systems, made up of both individual team members and acting as a collective system at the same time. We are both part of the system and it is part of us. In large organisations, there are many systems within different systems, all working as part of yet more systems outside their walls.
This is often overlooked in the realm of team development and organisational change, but is essential to understand – after all, organisations don’t change, people do. And if the people are not changing the system, there will be limited change in the organisation.
In this article, we delve into these three core concepts and explore how paying attention to each can propel teams and organisations towards a future of adaptability, growth and high performance.
At Change Oasis, we help clients change their systems through their people.
People: the driving force of change
A common mistake we see is that organisations expect change without sufficiently involving their people. Organisations are made up of individuals, each with unique perspectives, skills, and aspirations. Recognising the power of people as catalysts for change is paramount. Involving employees at all levels and empowering them to participate actively in the change process fosters a sense of ownership and commitment.
Successful change leaders listen carefully, communicate transparently, build a shared vision that inspires and motivates, and enable their teams to own and drive the change. By nurturing a culture that values curiosity, experimentation and collaboration, organisations can unlock the potential of their people as change agents.
Effective change depends on motivation, capability and ownership on the part of the people impacted by the change and this is much better achieved through involving them than imposing change on them.
Change: embracing the dynamic nature of transformation
Change is an inherent part of organisational growth and adaptability – without change, organisations become stale and obsolete. So it is essential to view change as an ongoing process rather than a one-time event.
Successful organisational change requires a deliberate and structured approach. Leaders must assess the current state, identify the desired future state, and develop a comprehensive change strategy which is flexible enough to evolve with changing needs. This strategy should address not only the structural and operational aspects but critically, the people side of change (as above).
Mindset, behaviours and culture are key – creating a “change-able” culture in which colleagues embrace continuous change and embrace learning through a growth mindset is crucial for organisational learning, adaptability and resilience.
Systems: the backbone of organisational transformation
Systems form the foundation upon which organisations operate. They encompass structures, processes, policies, and technologies. But most importantly, they reflect the rules, roles and behaviour patterns of the people who work in them.
This is why systems are often deeply resistant to change – as the people in them have not been involved in designing the change and do not have a compelling reason to shift the habitual patterns that determine how they work.
However, systems are not impervious to transformation. By aligning the people in your systems with the desired change and involving them as enablers, leaders can create an environment that supports and reinforces the new direction. For example, this may involve re-evaluating processes, redesigning workflows, and leveraging technology to support the shift in mindsets and behaviours required.
If the human patterns in a system do not change, the system will not change. Leaders should consider a holistic and integrated approach that considers both the technical and human elements of systemic change to drive successful transformation.
Driving successful organisational change
To achieve successful organisational change, it is essential to weave these core concepts – people, change and systems – together and leverage their inherent synergies:
- Involve and empower your people: foster a culture that values open communication, ownership of change and continuous learning. Encourage individuals at all levels to participate actively in the change process, empowering them to drive innovation and contribute to the organisation’s transformation.
- Embrace change as a positive and continuous journey: develop a change strategy and culture that acknowledges change as an ongoing and positive process. Communicate the vision for change clearly and consistently, provide the necessary support and resources, and actively involve colleagues to access their ideas and address their concerns and resistance. Nurture an organisation-wide growth mindset about change that embraces experimentation, adaptability and learning as fundamental principles.
- Align systems with change objectives: assess the behavioural patterns in your existing systems and identify areas where they need to be realigned to support the desired change. Identify colleagues who are willing to be pioneers of the new behaviours you need, revise processes and policies, and leverage technology to reinforce the new behaviours and ways of working.
How are your people changing your systems?
Successful organisational change requires attention to these three critical elements: people, change and systems. By recognising the transformative power of individuals, embracing change as a continuous journey, and realigning the behaviours in their systems with the desired change, leaders can dramatically increase the chance that transformation will be successful. Not just once, but on an ongoing basis.
Organisations that prioritise these core concepts create a culture of curiosity, experimentation, innovation, learning and resilience, enabling them to thrive in an ever-evolving business landscape.
Together, people change systems. Or they don’t.
How confident are you that your people are changing your system?
If you are not confident, how big a risk does that represent to your future success?
As a consultancy, we work with leaders and teams to reveal the hidden rules, roles and patterns which determine how people in systems behave, then help to disrupt them and replace them with something better to accelerate the change you need for longer-term success.
If this resonates and you would like to explore how we can help you, please get in touch with us today by sending us a direct message, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s have a conversation.