Strategies, Goals and Customers’ Needs

It would be nice if could plot the course and stay on track. On a recent boat trip my captain and I cruised down the channel off the coast of Miami headed south targeting channel buoys and enjoying the sun. The heat crept upon us as the day grew old and other boats headed in and then we noticed the crab buoys, small and black and hard to see. Running over one could mean a wrapped line in the prop. So now we spent time bobber dodging instead of enjoying the ride. These hard to see black balls made things stressful, but so it goes.

So goes business. Cruising along in life and something changes before you know it. So you react. You build a new plan. You make changes. The problem being that not all changes can be defined at the outset. The CEO’s job in a corporation is to keep the ship steady. Investor’s like steady grown and confidence grows. A lot of change programs are designed around communication, as is and to be states, because it feels steady. People are told what the new world will look like. Fantastic news! Or, to some people, scary news. But like news these days, it is often premature.

There is no GPS route for Massive Change

Change vs. Change

Some change is predictable, so I am not devaluing methodologies such as ADKAR (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. It has its charms. I also agree that change needs to happen at the individual level. The issue with many methodologies lies in the fact that some change, massive change, is not linear. It becomes a chaotic mess. Linear does seem reliable. CEO’s feel comfortable. Managers sense control. Oh how the hierarchy likes to feel in control. In many companies, attempt to strip that away as an employee with nuggets of truth, and you’ll be out the door in mere minutes. So silence ensues, shoulders shrug and everyone does what they are told. Top down management.

The world is changing. The key to understanding what the new organization could look like is a shift to outcome based management. Top management sets the results they would like to see, middle management coordinates the day to day activity and the change process, and the contributors and producers (every employee in some aspect) map out their business processes, products and services. In fact, we can go as far as to say managers shouldn’t be writing job descriptions, the owner of the activity should write their own. In a lot of my jobs, I would look back at the job description I signed up for and say, no way, that’s not what I do.

Validity as a Counterbalance to Reliability

Massive change demands a nonlinear approach. The goal is to seek the valid answer. Validity becomes the path to future reliability which begets the search for efficiency through methods such as LEAN thinking, Six Sigma, and various other quality controls. The path to validity is however iterative, hypothetical, experimental and will be wrought with dead ends, wrong paths and return trips. Think more about all the failed science experiments you had in high school. Have you blown anything up in your past?

In the world of massive change the actors, all people in the organization in the scope of the change, need to engage, test, evaluate and ultimately design the path to the outcome. “Co-creation, shared ownership and improved interaction increases the probability of successful change projects from 34% to 58%  and your connection to the big picture.” — Gartner Study. Think about those changes in results. But how do you get to those activities in a practical manner?


It doesn’t sound Corporate does it. You need the right tool for the right job. This one includes terms like mental frames and anchors. Yes, it comes from scholarly work, but as we automate the now — think of a world that doesn’t have accountants — learning to think will be the future of job growth. There will be people responsible for thinking about thinking. Well there are professors now who do that.

Sensemaking essentially reframes problems or situation in terms of human experience which help reduce perceived complexity. This sounds outstandingly undoable in the ranks of corporate America. Isn’t that for people in Marketing or something. But there are practical tools in Sensemaking to help sort through the chaos of Massive Change.

Contact: Changing Change HQ