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Organizational Change:  4 Strategies to Change

Organizational Change: what are 4 Strategies to Change?

  • 03 October 2016
  • Posted by Marcella Bremer

Now we know how change tends to succeed, how it can fail, and how to check the four archetypes of culture as a starting point for change, let’s see how we can engage people as this is a crucial condition for successful change. What are strategies to organizational change?

A powerful principle in contemporary organizational change approaches is: people support what they help create. Engaging people means tapping into their ideas and energy. It involves utilizing their potential. They have in-depth, detailed information that may be crucial to the intended change process. They may have objections that can improve the change plan when these problems can be bypassed or avoided. They can muster the energy and motivation to change their behaviors, and such personal change is another crucial condition for organizational change, as we have seen.

Engage People to Create Successful Change

In short, it’s essential to entice people to take ownership of their change process and shed the victim mindset. It can unleash their positive power and lead to unforeseen, positive outcomes.

As Tom Devane, one of the authors of The Change Handbook, writes: True sustainability (lasting change, ed.) requires that people at all levels, in all locations, are authorized to own their problems and solutions.

The Change Handbook, by the way, is recommended reading for anyone preparing organizational change. It describes more than 60 change methods, all based on including people (and thus, culture!) and using a whole systems approach (seeing the organizational as a whole system with its typical behaviors and tipping points, as opposed to focusing on isolated problems to solve).

But, wait a minute. Unleashing power when engaging employees sounds like losing power and control for some leaders. It sounds downright scary. Especially, if those leaders, like many, are raised and trained in the conventional top-down machine-mindset, as discussed.

Four Strategies to Organizational Change

Robert Quinn distinguishes four ways to change that leaders and consultants deploy. The first two fall within the range of conventional leaders and organizations:

  1. They tell employees what to change and how. If that doesn’t work, move on to #2
  2. They force them to change using punishment and reward.

The third way requires to let go of some control and have a little more faith in your people - to benefit from their potential of ideas and action. But this does not mean that the change process is out of control and people will run wild with weird ideas, especially if the shared goals are clear in advance.Copy Coach Correct

Leaders and consultants can:

3. Consult people before the change and let them participate.

More and more organizations are currently trying strategy 3 (the basis of the Change Handbook), as it has proven to be effective. My change approach based on Change Circles to work with culture and develop a change plan in a small team of trusted coworkers is a combined level 3-4 approach.

Because, the fourth, most effective way to create change is:

4. To change yourself: what you believe, what you say, what you do, how you respond.

Personal Change in small Teams

Simply put: be the change you want to see on your team. Role model and embody the new behaviors. Change Circles enhance personal change within a small team. If everyone practices the new behaviors, it will be easier to copy them. It will be easier to support each other. The new will become “normal” thanks to culture’s copycat effect.

At first, if a behavior doesn’t fit the current culture people will look at you bemused or confused. They’ll have to adjust their habitual response to you - but they will be reminded of the new behaviors that were agreed upon in the Change Circle. Next time, they might display this behavior, too. Slowly, but surely, lasting change may be on its way.

In my next post, I’ll explain what such an inclusive change process based on culture and change circles, looks like. If you want to apply my Change Circles approach based on culture, engagement, and positive leadership: We practice this in the 3-day workshop. Why don’t you join us? Check out the Culture Change Leadership workshop. The faster way to learn more is to read my eBook: How to lead Positive Change with Culture and Positive Leadership. Read this before you start any change or new goal to prepare your organization for successful change. 

Right now, I’d be curious to hear your experiences with the four ways of change.

  • Have you been the subject of strategies 1 to 4?
  • Have you ever used any of these change strategies? What did you find?

Be courageous and share your thoughts... because you can help others with your examples and experiences!

Copyright © Marcella Bremer 2016. All rights reserved.