Make Change Work for Your Business
It’s been said that the only reliable constant in business is change, and that saying has even greater validity when applied to the area of organizational development. The latest contribution to the ever-evolving body of writing surrounding change management comes from two authors, John McGuire and Gary Rhodes, and is titled Transforming Your Leadership Culture. Both McGuire and Rhodes have decades of corporate experience that they draw on while currently working with the prestigious Center for Creative Leadership.
The Failure of Organizational Change
Their latest collaboration readily lays out the sobering results from a variety of studies showing that organizations fail between 66 percent and 75 percent of the time when trying to implement a new initiative or transformational program. Such alarming stats make you wonder if the consultancy-driven discipline of organizational development is little more than an elaborate Ponzi scheme. Fortunately, McGuire and Rhodes think organizational development is more than a confidence game. They believe the critical breakpoint between a thoughtful change strategy and its execution occurs within the organization’s existing leadership culture.
That point is driven home in a novel thought progression presented in the book that all organizational systems are first and foremost human systems. These are embodied and carried forward through an organization’s leadership culture. According to the authors, the only way to effectively harass this leadership culture is to transform it into an interdependent-collaborative model.
The Unique Perspective
The authors offer robust examples, case studies and research to chart a preliminary path that’s supposed to hasten this migration of the entire organization over to a more collaboratively interdependent structure, but the whole thing hinges on the embedded leadership culture. In their recognition of that fact, McGuire and Rhodes make some seemingly inconsequential observations that are startling, true and as powerful as anything else in the book.
One example is their statement that executives need to be the first in the organization to do the heavy-lifting that the desired change requires by engagement and example. This is a soft bit of discipline in this new age of government bailouts in the aftermath of poor corporate stewardship.
Next, the authors champion the idea that everybody needs to “get bigger brains,” beginning with the organizational brass. While this may include formal course work and an advanced degree, McGuire and Rhodes suggest it’s more of a self awakening that needs to occur. This expanded thinking requires the collective and individual leaders to shake off the trappings of personal performance and position — moving into the accountability arena. These would be stunningly stark remarks from a consultant-for-hire to boldly convey to its corporate benefactors. However, the message is valid.
But this type of tact seems necessary to counter the corporate inertia of inactivity and reverse the unacceptable three-quarters failure rate of organizational development stated earlier. The central question after reading this book is whether or not the jaded leaders and organizational executives who’ve witnessed or experienced one of these transformational flops are willing to risk it again — only this time doing it the correct way by becoming the desired change themselves, thereby transforming the leadership culture.