The traditional assumption in change management is that successful large-scale changes must start at the top, be supported by the top, and controlled from the top. This assumption has emerged over time and largely through “learnings” from bad experiences where large amounts of time and resources have been expended trying to get an organization to change. This assumption must be challenged not only because it’s false, but because it leads to ineffective change initiatives.
Our research on organization design and organization development, agility, and change management leads us to the conclusion that the unbelievable pace and complexity of change in markets, technology, and regulation means that traditional linear change management models are obsolete.
Successful large-scale change, reorganization, and transformation is guided by the organization’s direction which should be set by senior management. But it also requires building capabilities within the organization for self-regulation, innovation (which almost always comes from the periphery), high impact interventions that accelerate change by stimulating local initiatives, and the creation of connected networks for learning and sharing. The key to successful change lies in the simultaneous activation of many vectors of change.
The webinar framed the challenges of large-scale change in a volatile and complex marketplace and described tools and examples of organizations that have abandoned the traditional approaches to adopt more flexible, adaptable, and agile approaches.
Eric Severson, Senior Vice President, Global Talent Solutions at Gap, Inc., talked about the integration of the many vectors of change that have been simultaneously unfolding as Gap Inc. has worked to achieve sustainable effectiveness as defined by business/financial and market success, meeting the needs of today’s global workforce, and pursuing world-leading corporate responsibility.