Organizational Change Doesn’t Happen Easily

This will be the last post for 2013! We’re in the process of exploring organizational change by first looking at the deep changes that we must make in ourselves. This is NOT an easy journey. We’re in Chapter 8 of Robert E. Quinn’s Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within and we are ending this year with a bang as we talk about the challenges that we will come up against if we truly desire to change ourselves. Remember, in order to change ourselves, we have to know ourselves and recognize what it is that we want to change. And so while we are getting to know ourselves, we may not like what we see. When we don’t like what we see, we start making excuses. The most likely excuses are:

  1. I was never taught to be anything different. This is just who I am. I’m still a good leader.
  2. The organization is in such chaos, I had to become like this in order to just survive here!
  3. Nobody ever told me that this was not the right way to be. If I was supposed to be more (compassionate, forgiving, assertive, etc.) my boss should have told me.
  4. I have to be like this. If I’m not aggressive, no one will listen to me!
  5. I work really, REALLY hard and no one gives me any credit for what I do. I’m entitled to be like this for all I do for this place!
  6. I don’t get paid enough to work this hard at change. If I were paid more, then I might consider making these kinds of changes you are suggesting.
  7. I don’t REALLY need to change anything right away. I’ve been a very effective leader for many years. A couple tweaks here or there is not going to make that much difference.

Do any of these excuses look familiar? Maybe you have others that you would like to add to this list? Recognize that these are the traps that are holding you back! If you do not face these excuses head on and plow through them, you will never experience the delights of deep change. And if you do not start by changing yourself, then changing your organization will be IMPOSSIBLE. Organizational change begins by changing ourselves.

Press the pause button and consider what gives meaning to our lives

Press the pause button and consider what gives meaning to our lives

“Ultimately, deep change, whether at the personal or the organizational level, is a spiritual process. Loss of alignment occurs when, for whatever reason, we begin to pursue the wrong end. This process begins innocently enough. In pursuing some justifiable end, we make a trade-off of some kind. We know it is wrong, but we rationalize our choice. We use the end to justify the means. As time passes, something inside us starts to wither. We are forced to live at the cognition level, the rational, goal-seeking level. We lose our vitality and begin to work from sheer discipline. Our energy is not naturally replenished, and we experience no joy in what we do. We are experiencing slow death” (Quinn, 1996, p. 78).

So now let’s go back and review a few points that Quinn made. Quinn states that change is a spiritual process… Do you believe that? If you do not think change is a spiritual process, why do you feel that way? Maybe if we explored the definition of spirituality, you may begin to feel differently. Spirituality can be defined as the search for something that transcends yourself- something bigger and more powerful than you are. So with that thought in mind, can you see how changing ourselves is a spiritual process? And remember chapter 4 in which we discussed the need for alignment? This process of letting go of pieces of ourselves will help us to get in alignment with what is right and help us to transcend our current reality.

What are the “wrong ends” that Quinn refers to? Think about the things that we do and say every day and consider the reasons why we are doing them and this will help you to identify the wrong ends… (Here are the thoughts behind the actions)

  1. If I just ignore her, maybe she will get the hint that I am angry at her.
  2. I’m not going to involve my managers in the hiring decision, because I’m the ultimate decision maker. I want them to know that I’m the boss around here and what I say goes!
  3. I’ll just send him an email rather than dealing with him face to face. It’ll be easier in the long run.
  4. I know she said she didn’t want it done this way. But I know I’m right. I’ll ask forgiveness later.

What are the intentions behind these actions? These individuals are allowing the means to justify the ends. If the intention is not pure and focused in the right direction, then the wrong ends are being pursued and this will ultimately lead to the slow death that Quinn refers to. Start spending time with yourself and determining what your intentions are. Are you pursuing the wrong ends? What will you change about yourself in order to change your course of direction? Organizational change all starts with YOU!


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