Seven Helpful Things To Know About Achieving Change In Organizations

The plan is not the change

All too often those involved in creating the plan for change believe this to be the most essential part of the process, worthy of extended time and effort, while implementation is seen as ‘just’ a matter of communicating and rolling out the plan. Plans are a story of hope. Change happens when people change their habitual patterns of communication and intervention in a meaningful and sustainable way.


The map is not the territory

Any map of an organization is going to contain inaccuracies. Therefore any plan based on that imperfect map is going to be subject to corrective feedback where the assumptions of the map proved faulty. Unexpected reactions or effects of implementing the plan therefore should be embraced as giving useful information about how things are, rather than interpreted as a mistake in the planning.


A natural response to a burning platform is blind panic

People do not make great team decisions when they are panicking. They don’t even make good personal decisions. Creating fear and anxiety as drivers for change can have unhelpful consequences in producing self-orientated, unthinking survival behaviour. Better to create positive emotions in change that encourage creative, complex and group orientated thinking.


The path to the future is created not uncovered

Sometimes in change we act as if the future lies there waiting for us; we have only to uncover the path and follow it. Believe instead that the future is in a constant state of creation, that our actions today affect tomorrow; that how we understand the past affects how we conceive possibilities in the future, and we begin to see the creation of the future as an activity that takes place in a constant present.


Resistance is a sign of commitment

Resistance to change is often labelled as problematic. Instead it should be viewed as a sign of engagement, of commitment. There are many truths in organisational life and they don’t always align well. Some people may hold a different view about what is best for the organization. If they are prepared to risk conflict then they care enough to let you know. Be much more aware of unspoken disagreement disguised as compliance; undealt with now, it will surface as soon as the chips are down.


Meaning is created not dictated

I can not dictate to you how you are to understand things; I can only suggest. If I am unable to create a shared meaning with you then we are not aligned. All too often organizations try to dictate how their actions are to be interpreted by all. Better instead to have many conversations that assist groups in the organization to interpret and re-interpret what is happening through the prism of their own many contexts, and to co-create meaning together.


There is no correct answer to the challenge of organisational form

Organizations are engaged in an endless challenge to organise themselves in an optimal form. Since the tensions within organizations are irreconcilable any solution is only a temporary truce. Constant adaptation within organisational form is healthy, anomalies to the norm may add value for a time, a complexity of forms may aid flexibility. Essentially though, as has been said before, change is a constant organisational activity and continual small changes are usually more adaptive than 3-5 yearly big lurches.


Appreciating Change specialises in helping organizations achieve positive, rapid and sustainable change.



Other Resources

More on using Appreciative Inquiry and other positive psychology techniques at work can be found in Sarah’s book Positive Psychology at Work.

See more Thought Provoking articles in the Knowledge Warehouse.



Appreciating Change is skilled and experienced at supporting leaders in working in this challenging, exciting and productive way with their organizations. Find out more by looking at how we help with LeadershipCulture change and with employee Engagement.

For further information on these alternative approaches to change, please contact us or phone 07973 782 715