Neil Perkin recently posted an interesting excerpt from a research paper to his blog entitled the Three Types of Problem in the World. Raising a child is considered the most complex of the types of problem and for this reason it bears a number of similarities to business transformation.
Change of any type in a business situation is complex due to political interests, legacy platforms, lack of expertise, competitive forces and short-term revenue challenges. This complexity leads consultants and business leaders to design complicated change programmes that are meticulously planned based around “proven” frameworks.
Whilst this approach may appear sensible at face value, the business may not respond in the expected way. In fact it may flat out rebel to the change being forced upon it.
As a father two times over, I can confirm that raising children is incredibly complex. Sometimes they are beautifully behaved. Bright, clever, obedient and adventurous. It’s at these moments when smugness can creep in and I begin to think that I’ve got parenting nailed. And then the next day everything changes, and obedience gives way to chaos.
All part of the rich tapestry of life and directly applicable to transforming a business which is a living, temperamental beast.
With this in mind I’m reminded of John Kotter’s book XLR8 on a revolutionary method of managing change. Rather than leading change from the top-down, Kotter advocates getting teams involved. If the book looks a little heavy then you should check out the accompanying HBR article: https://hbr.org/2012/11/accelerate/ar/1