The Individual in Organizational Change

Growing up professionally on the brilliant foundations of traditional organizational-development models, I've always felt we need to ask more questions about implementation.

Finally adding Neuroscience foundations to my arsenal nearly 12 years ago...I'm starting to believe this is where some of the answers can come from... #DifficultChange #changemanagement #Neuroscience

One of the most difficult parts of organizational change is implementation.

Over the relatively short time Organizational Development models have been around, they have provided us with a fabulous foundation in terms of managing change as a structure. If I had to describe organizational development models in the most simplified way, I'd probably say it's typically a focus on goals, processes, systems, structures, values, and dynamics ensuring that all the pieces resonate and humm well together to create a well oiled machine.

This is my home professionally, the foundations of how I was taught to see organizational change, so it is a territory I'm fond of. It is a powerful, soud, much needed foundation but I believe that's all it was ever meant to be...a foundation. A platform that gives us tremendous clarity about where we are and where we should be. But I also believe it was not designed to get us from point A to point B. Blasphemy, I know...but I always had so many unanswered implementation-related questions in this context. In my mind, there's nothing wrong with traditional organizational models, they offer superior insight in terms of design and they are excellent at what they are supposed to deliver. They are simply not designed to address implementation...not really.

For change to be adopted in organizations, for words like execution, application, and performance improvement to be relevant, we need to go beyond change design. We need to understand change at the individual level and accept that moving the needle on an organizational level often directly means that we need to shift the responses, behaviors, thinking habits or otherwise ways of doing things on the individual level - and multiply that times a majority of individuals to move the ship.

Certainly, traditional change processes look at people-related elements like resistance and engagement, but typically the facilitation of these processes is still targeting people going through change at mass. Neuroscience helps tremendously on this front by:

  • Making us ask this vital question: How can we design change to have a tangible growth impact on individuals within an organizational process?

  • Clarifying the most essential parts of individual transformation that we need to incorporate into change design so we can ensure the accumulated value of individual change will lead to implementation in practice.

  • Allowing us to design change at scale in a way that shifts away from time and energy consuming processes with little in-practice results to efforts that directly and efficiently lead to adoption of change in practice and moving the needle for the organization as a whole.

Do you agree? How do you see our ability to facilitate change at the individual level when it comes to organizational change?

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