Leading Responsible Change In The Workplace

COHAA logoI provided the opening keynote for the May 24  Path to Agility annual conference in Columbus Ohio to an appreciative audience. The slides are in my presentation archive.

Dante Vilardi (profile) of Pillar Technology contacted me with an interesting follow-up:

Hi Christopher, great job at Path to Agility in Columbus. Your talk inspired us.

During Q&A I asked you about possible linkages between the change part of the program and the responsibility process (RP) part of the program. I was satisfied with your answer, and later got to thinking:

Each of the four RP levels may represent non-adaptive (really, non-learning) responses to “domains” which turn out to be foundational to the change process.

For example, when we lay blame, aren’t we initiating failure-prone ways of thinking about the people with a stake in the change? My point is (and you know this), successful change involves transformative ways of thinking about stakeholders. So it seems to be a case of “right topic, wrong response.”

I see similar relevance at other RP levels. They might all be phrased as questions, reflecting key learning challenges of the change process: blame (Who are the key stakeholders?) justify (What are the key features of my external environment?)

shame (What are the key features of my particular “internal environment?”), and obligation (What new rules and relationships apply now?)

Unless and until we answer these questions, are we really prepared to respond responsibly? Thanks again for your presentation.

Dante Vilardi

Thanks, Dante. I appreciate your kind words. More, I appreciate your chewing on this as I appreciated all of my conversations with your Pillar colleagues in Columbus. I can understand why Pillar is an award-wining business.

You have worked out some useful logic about the fallacy of trying to change others.

For instance, see the work of William Bridges who says it is not the change itself that produces resistance but the significance of the change. Continuing to paraphrase his work (as well as that of Virginia Satir and our own Leadership Gift work), change is external while transition (or transformation) is internal. Of course this all falls so casually into the ChangeA (abstract change) category I warned about regarding noun-based change in the traditional change literature. Remember that?

If I understand you correctly, I think the Leadership Gift will provide good leverage for you here. The back of the PDF poster reminds us that the Responsibility Process™ only works when self-applied. So the Leadership Gift points me more toward changing myself so others will respond with the change I seek (i.e., “Who would I/we be for [stakeholders] to respond the way I want them to?”). This is much more challenging and productive than expecting others to change.

Am I following you? And is my response on target? I’d love to hear your and others’ thoughts.

Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide. For more on topics discussed in this post, consider his executive report Responsible Change, and download the Responsibility Process™ poster PDF in a more than a dozen languages. CEO’s desiring a culture of ownership may want to investigate the proven Managed Leadership Gift Adoption program.

Posted in Leadership, Recommended Resources, Responsibility on 06/07/2012 01:01 am
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