“That’s why they call it work.” – Diane Lane
Making change happen is easy. Making the change that happens the one you want is quite a bit more difficult.
But first a tangent … not much of a tangent, but a tangent nonetheless … meat. And not just any meat. Unicorn meat, as discussed by a fascinating piece in The Atlantic (“Open Your Mind to Unicorn Meat,” Annie Lowrey, 7/9/2023).
I say fascinating, not because it’s particularly surprising, but because it lays out all of the complexities those who want us to substitute non-meat meat for meat in our collective diets have to contend with.
The core message: Such a substitution would be better for both the planet’s and our personal health, but promoting it on the basis of its planetary and personal health advantages is a non-starter.
Want people to eat non-meat meat? Make non-meat meat whose taste and texture are indistinguishable from meat, or, even better, more enjoyable (unicorn meat).
This is why the Impossible Burger has been more successful than the black bean patties that preceded it.
Which gets us back to what intentional organizational change takes and why too many leaders fail at it. And so, here are a few tips, and anti-tips if there is such a thing, business leaders leading a change should keep in mind:
Insist that “It’s really very simple.” No, it isn’t. I don’t even know what you’re trying to accomplish, but if it’s an important change in how your organization does something, it isn’t simple, any more than creating a recipe for non-meat meat and then scaling that recipe up to factory-scale production is simple.
The closest to simplicity you can come is agility. Which is to say, there’s no such thing as a perfect spec. What there is instead is a well-managed backlog – an iterative and incremental list of change ingredients whose priorities are set based on the law of diminishing returns.
“What do you mean, ‘persuade’?” Like the dark side of the Force, there’s something seductive about authority and the power it confers. Far too many executives and managers figure that telling is better than persuading. And it is, if your definition of “better” is “requires less effort.”
So if you’re among those who prefers to rely on their authority to make things happen, keep in mind that power comes in five levels – change leaders can control, tell, persuade, influence, or be a victim.
Those whose habit is to control or tell turn those they control or tell into victims, defined as those who have no power. Wiser and more effective change leaders rely on their ability to persuade, and, should they lack sufficient authority for persuasion to work, to influence.
Bob’s last word: Which gets us to the meat of the issue: If you want to push a desirable change into your organization and don’t want your organization to push it back out, make sure you’ve defined the change so you can broadcast it, as the old joke goes, on the radio station every employee listens to on the way into work every day: WIIFM, which stands for “What’s In It For Me?”
Don’t, that is, design the change so it’s good for the organization and then try to figure out how to get employees to like it, or at least to not dislike it so much that they’re willing to sabotage it.
Design the change as something employees see as, first and foremost, something they’d want for themselves. Then and only then is the time to fiddle with it so it benefits the organization as a whole, too.
Make your change taste, that is, like unicorn meat.
They’re complementary takes on how to make intentional change happen.
Now on CIO.com’s CIO Survival Guide: The ‘IT Business Office’: Doing IT’s admin work right.”
What it’s about is that you shouldn’t run IT like a business. And it’s about what you should do instead – how to run it in a businesslike way, by establishing an administrative group within IT to shoulder much of IT’s bureaucratic burden.