In another change conversation I recently talked to the inspiring, enthusiastic and incredibly knowledgeable Benjamin P Taylor of Red Quadrant. As well as furnishing me with enough reading to last until 2020 we discussed what makes organisational transformation successful and I asked for the essence of his philosophy to change.
The answer, according to Benjamin, is about finding an appropriate “balance of constraints and freedom”. This means the answer is not command and control with top-down directive change programmes. Neither is the answer adaptive organisations with bottom-up emergent change.
The answer is … it depends.
The challenge is to understand and find the balance that is right for your situation. What are the absolute non-negotiable elements and what is open to participation and co-creation? What are the necessary, fixed constraints regarding this change and what do those affected by it have the freedom to chose for themselves. Change leaders can often assume far too much of one and very little of the other, whereas in practice there might be more opportunities for freedom than first considered (as neatly summarised in the diagram below):
Make it clear where the boundaries are as a lack of boundaries between constraints and freedom is a recipe for disaster.
So that was lesson number 3 from my change conversations. Coming soon Helen Bevan.