Organizational Change through Deep Change

We are continuing our search for organizational change through Robert E. Quinn’s book Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within and we are currently starting Chapter 5. The way this chapter is written, the words seem to reach off the page and grab me in a very personal way.

Our focus at this point is ensuring that we are bringing vitality into the work place. I think this is a wonderful way to look at ourselves as leaders because it is not about motivating or inspiring other people, this is strictly focused on me as an individual leader and how I need to show up every day- with vitality. How many times do we focus on motivating others when what we should really be doing is focusing on our own levels of vitality? This reminds me of the times that I see parents at Disney World with their children and in a fit of frustration, the parent says, “We’re going to enjoy this day and have fun or we’re just going home!” The parents are so focused on giving their kids a happy experience that they get frustrated doing it and no one ends up having a good time. But what if we just showed up with vitality, with no expectations of what others would receive from the day; just focus on your own vitality and then just see what happens.

Think about the times when we are implementing organizational change and we start to get burned out by the process. We try forcing ourselves to push everyone harder through the organizational change- but it seems that the harder we push, the more frustrated everyone gets. Maybe pushing others harder is not the answer. In order to support organizational change, we need to push ourselves to show up with the necessary drive and enthusiasm so that we have the zest we need- not because someone else needs that push- but because we need it ourselves.

Organizational change means opening fresh drawers of ideas

We tend to pull the answers from the same drawers. When we are going through organizational change, we need to dare to open new drawers.

“Warning signals that suggest a need for change tend to be denied. As performance levels fall, stress goes up, and vitality and drive wane. Our focus narrows, and we increase our commitment to our existing strategies, leading us toward greater difficulty” (Quinn, 1996, p. 55).

Stress has a way of shutting off the creativity in our brains and when we are under stress we tend to fall back into the same 0ld patterns of behavior. In stressful times, when things seem to be piling up on us, we need to take a deliberate moment of reflection. We need to recognize that we can’t continue to solve new problems with the same old answers.

Bringing vitality into the job does not just mean showing up with a smile. It means showing up with newness to the job. New ideas, new ways of behaving, new relationships and new commitments to change. We must have the courage to open up new drawers of ideas, explore new territories of relationships and act in new ways in order to break out of old patterns.

We need to take responsibility for recognizing the need for newness and embrace the opportunities that this newness presents. And sometimes we will be presented with opportunities about ourselves. We need to recognize that one of the ways that newness does not occur is when we are in denial about areas that require newness. Consider the times when you disagree with an idea, reject an appeal from an employee or turn away from personal feedback because it is too painful to admit. We will lose the vitality in ourselves if we are constantly in denial about opportunities for change. “When we practice denial, we work on the wrong solutions or on no solutions at all. The problem grows worse as we become discouraged, and our vitality level declines” (Quinn, 1996, p. 52).

Organizational change is about facing the things that we haven’t faced in the past. Pieces of ourselves that we have shied away from acknowledging, ideas that we refused to recognize, and people who we have allowed to disrupt our energy. It’s time to make a change! Where are you going to start? What ruts have you fallen into that you need to pull yourself out of so that you can experience deep change? What changes will you make in yourself in order to contribute to organizational change?


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