We Need To Change How We Change

We need to change how we change

“The only thing that can be safely predicted is that sometime soon your organisation will be challenged to change in ways for which there are no precedent.” – Gary Hamel

Today’s organisations are already facing a set of challenges, which are truly unprecedented:

  • Rapid and unrelenting innovation, fueling competition
  • Hundred year-old business models rendered irrelevant overnight
  • Entry barriers tumbling as disruptive innovations become more frequent
  • Customer demands influencing the markets more and more
  • Social media dramatically transforming the way people connect, learn and collaborate

The business landscape is changing at a rapid rate; IT-enabled progress has revolutionised our business and operational models altering the way we communicate, network and share information. For the first time in history, we are facing an increase in the pace of change – and to be able to thrive in this environment our organisations need to be adaptable, our employees need to have creative contributions and we need to innovate faster than the competition.

Modern management models however aren’t up to the challenge of fostering this in house creativity as “organisations were built around principles that deify conformance, control, alignment, discipline, and efficiency. The principles that organisations have at their core are antithetical to innovation”. Management has been very effective in “routinising the non routine”, however in Why Companies Need to Change the Way They Change Gary Hamel, one of the world’s leading business thinkers, explains that to build truly innovative organisations we need to sometimes abandon these routines. The issue is, that in most organisations there is little to no incentives to do this.

All organisations should be aiming to change “automatically, spontaneously and reflexively”, but as Hamel observes, companies rarely undergo deep change unless prompted by crisis, and we need to start considering why this isn’t a priority for organisations.

We need to change the way we change in dramatic kinds of ways, because right now the way we change is just too expensive! Deep change is exactly how it happens in a poorly governed country, it is infrequent, it is belated and it is convulsive. Certainly we can do better than this!” – Gary Hamel 

In Why Your HR Department Needs a Major Reboot Hamel suggests the movement for change should start with HR. HR services are already a driver for change within organisations, but by focusing on aspects of the management model which HR controls; organisational change, deployment, performance review, talent acquisition and change management, HR could use their primary role in organisations core processes to be a “true catalyst for change”.

See the video below to see Gary Hamel speaking at WOBI – the World of Business Ideas on why we need to change the way we change.

Read Gary Hamel’s Fortune Magazine article on why organisations need to change the way they respond to a changing business environment here and how HR can play a key role in driving the in house changes to facilitate these innovations here.

Gary Hamel spoke on management innovation and building organisations fit for the future at the Business Influentials series in Auckland on May 27th, 2014.