Things have changed in the 16 years I have been consulting.
But they haven’t.
The version of consulting I practice has gone from the title of OD (Organizational Development) to Change Management to the latest fad name “Change Leadership” (and in between I even saw “Management of Change”). It has always been an effort to educate, train and develop people in order to move organizations in some direction.
My own role has never seemed necessary to me.
But it is.
(And judging by the name changes, likely to cloak the fact that organizations are not so good at that educate, train and develop thing, will continue).
So to get some writing going here (sorry for the gaps lately readers, 970 posts must have dried me up a bit) let’s do a list of some wonderful that has come our way recently:
- Change Entities
- Contingent Workers
This is my passion- the setting up and structuring of change groups within organizations.
They are wonderful because they can pull outside resources who, when set up correctly, mentor the organizations employees and serve as hand holders as process and interaction is created and learned. It is wonderful in many ways. The use of talent in the right place at the right time is my favorite wonderful.
When those groups are not guided and led by an external high level consultant (and no the external turned internal usually does not count) they comically end up looking worse than the organization itself when it comes to hierarchy, control and interaction. The participants mean well but, because they are human and will be measured, operate like those they are trying to help. That makes me disillusioned.
There are hundreds of approaches out there. And mine :
Most are distinguished by the symbols they use.
Many, and probably all in some way, are helpful to make sense of process, to illustrate things that happen when people and organizations try to change and to put structure around growth and development.
Giving people, practitioners and leaders frameworks and steps to follow is wonderful. Languaging is wonderful. A common way of interacting and seeing things is fantastic.
All, every single one- likely including my own, have fundamental weaknesses (some outright mistakes) that actually hinder change.
The most dangerous of those weaknesses is the insistence on some form of “as-is/to-be”. Approaching change from the present causes a multitude of problems and automatically creates roadblocks that are unnecessary. To watch practitioners strictly follow some methodology loaded with steps always comparing the future with the present is, well, hard to watch. And disillusionary.
If you want something done now and have the budget (which can be bigger than it used to with 10 years of frozen wages) you can find an expert to do it for you or help. And you do not have to keep them past that particular project. There must be thousands of firms to help you too (judging by the calls I get- still 13 firms for the same role is the current record, got one now that is up to 10 though…funny thing is I am already AT that client). This flexibility is wonderful (for clients and in some small ways for the “contingents”).
Knowledge now arrives, stays a while and then flies out the door. Those workers have little incentive to pass on their knowledge. They are hired to get something done, usually in distinct steps ridiculously defined by the organization, so that sharing is next to impossible.
The more this pattern continues (and it is bigger, wider and more invasive) the less those workers will be experienced, well honed practitioners and the more they will be cookie-cutter-list-reducers. This is not only disillusionary; it is sad. As much as consultants get picked on for assisting rather than doing we provide a valuable service (building the organizations capabilities through its people). I can see, in every organization I work with, the erosion of that positive effect. When my eyes see that I am disillusioned in multiple ways.
Is, let’s face it amazing!
The list is long of things we do at work now that we didn’t do before: text, email, watch training videos, trade screens easily when presenting, call across the globe like we are yelling across the street to borrow sugar.
We can collaborate, learn and interact now, compared to just the recent past, in fantastic magical exchanges. We can park information so that others can add, share, suggest. We can make beautiful templates that are consistent, call out the right message and reach as many people as we need to- instantly. Just wonderful this is!
Technology invites an endless list of things to “check off”, ridiculous stream of measurement and justification that is resource, time and budget wasting. I shudder, in a disillusioned way, watching this happen. And I don’t have to turn my head too far to the side to see it- EVERYWHERE. You do know all of your problems can be solved with technology right? (Let’s hope so for the money you just dished out…).