Four demands we have for you as a client
‘This is so what we need! We want the change to happen as naturally as possible, exactly like that.’ Marc can barely contain his enthusiasm in our first meeting. He is so frustrated with the change process they’re in, and it’s just getting worse each day. He hopes we can help him sort things out.
‘We’ve been addressing this issue for about a year now. But no matter what we do, we can’t seem to get our people to actually find each other and work together. It’s like they’re stuck in their comfy silos.’
Marc is CEO of a technical organisation. The company is the result of a merger. They had high hopes and great plans about all the opportunities the merger would bring.
While he vents his frustration and desires, I take a sip from my mug with the slogan “together we create miracles” printed on it. The mug is one of many attempts to get people to work together better. Apart from the reorganisation into customer-centred units.
All with zero effect.
Marc heard about Change 3.0 from a friend of a friend, read the book and invited us over for a chat.
‘I completely relate to how you guys describe how behaviour changes. I picked up a thing or two during my years in management about how important it is for change to come from within, from the people themselves.’
I’m falling in love with this man (in a business-kind-of-way, of course): I want this job!!
I can picture it in my mind’s eye. Side by side we’ll get things moving and shaking around this place. With plenty of challenges, of course, which we’ll overcome jointly with our savvy moves…
In the meantime, Marc continues: ‘What I love about your approach is how you create a bottom-up process. Let people do it themselves. Not the whole ‘blame management’ if things don’t work. It’s like they’re always expecting us to change instead of them. To be honest, I’m fed up with that.’
Oh no, what a shame!
There goes my bubble.It starts to burst when a little voice inside my head softly says: ‘That’s a bit opportunistic, isn’t it? Making people responsible for a change and pulling the out-for-lunch-card when your part in it is being addressed. If he won’t take ownership for his own role in this situation, he’s not going to get what he wants.’
My ever-optimistic (and-sometimes-slightly-naïve) voice gives it another try: ‘Don’t make such a fuss. We’ll straighten that out along the way.’
But I’m already on a flashback rollercoaster: all those times in the past when we ignored these early warning signs, because it seemed such a great project.
It is so tempting to stick to the almost romantic image. To pretend we’re completely on the same page.
But I can’t. Not anymore.
Because being honest about change is what we stand for.
That begins with being honest towards myself. To take the nagging, bubble-popping-voice serious. And to be honest towards our client. No sugar-coating to Marc.
Sweaty palms enter the stage. The fact I’m nervous about this is one thing, but how is he going to react?
After all, I’m about to burst Marc’s bubble as well. His ideal picture of ‘we get some people in to fix this for us and leaving me out of the fire range’ will have to go out of the window for this to work.
This might result in us not getting this job. Because Change 3.0 is fundamentally different from implementing a slick, predefined change plan.
Bye bye bubble. Hello reality.
What Marc doesn’t know yet, is that we have our own demands. For him. Prerequisites we before we start working together:
- You have to be able to deal with an uncertain outcome. Letting go of knowing exactly what you will get at the end of the line.
- Assume that you play a part in the change that you want to have happen. And so, you will also need to work on your own contribution to the situation.
- Anything that’s relevant, we have to be allowed to address. Also those-things-that-should-not-be-named.
- You must be willing and able to invest time to define a clear desired outcome upfront and time and effort to persist.
For now, we especially zoom in on the second demand: his own role. With roled-up sleeves, we set off:
‘Actually, assume that management, and so you as well, are part of this as well.’
‘If you want something else to happen within you company, you’ll have to do something differently than you do now too.
Change 3.0 isn’t just a bottom-up approach which leaves you out of the picture. It’s bottom-up and top-down simultaneously. The magic happens when these two come together, because the actual change happens in the interaction and the lessons that emerge from that interaction. Learning from the effects of what you do on others, and vice versa, is an intertwined part of that change. So, our job is to mirror you and your leaders on that as well.’
Marc looks a bit flustered, and mildly annoyed. But it’s sparked his curiosity as well.
‘So, hang on a sec. You’ve got demands for me? While I’m the one about to hire you?’
Because we are also invested in making this a success. And this is what that takes.
It’s not necessarily comfortable. It’s honest, though.
Nothing you can’t deal with, right?