Modern business has to become more agile if it is to survive in the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment that is the modern business world it exists within in. The problem is that most businesses are not agile enough to drive and maintain the necessary change from within. It takes real discipline to constantly initiate and drive change before the environment enforces change upon an organisation. Such motivation rarely exists in established organisations that are comfortable within their own skin. Like dieting, change is much desired but rarely voluntarily undertaken and sustained without outside intervention. Why?
Most organisations see themselves as unique; hence most can deny the strongest argument for change. For such organisations change is appropriate to many others but not to them. Rather like individuals, organisations are highly critical of others but very forgiving of themselves. It is only the hungry young organisations that sustain the necessary agility to match their environment. Hence it is far more “the quick that eat the slow” rather than “the big that eat the small” in today’s information driven world.
To change requires a dissatisfaction with current performance and hence an ambition to improve. The change process undertaken needs to unfreeze the organisation from itself and its established culture in order to learn the new ways and doctrine before refreezing itself to ensure the new doctrines are sustained appropriately. Change needs enthusiasm. Change needs energy and change needs ambition that is why it is far easier to sustain in young dynamic organisations.
So how can an organisation generate and sustain organisational agility? It needs to regularly objectively examine itself and analyse where its tangible success originates from. Replicate the origins of that successful environment and the causes of that success and turn them into common processes and doctrine. In simple terms it is unfreezing the status quo, prior to creating the new culture and doctrine amongst change agents and disciples before implementing the changes across the organisation by driving the change to a self-fulfilling tipping point. Then refreezing the new doctrine to sustain the change and ensure it is enduring.
The best way of ensuring buy in and render the unique argument superfluous is to use the evidence gleaned from within the organisation to define the new doctrine. By transmitting the evidence regularly to all and then empowering change agents at every level to drive the required change and preach the necessary messages to those sceptics who exist in every organisation the change becomes unstoppable. With the tipping point reached those in denial will either come round to the new doctrine or leave.
If change is proving difficult it may well be useful to involve an outside agent who has less baggage with them than those who have lived within an organisation! Often it is easier to identify the change from without and drive the cultural change as those within have inevitably been imbued with the current culture.