In the first post in this series, I provided some brief context for ‘change leadership’ (a term I find more apt than ‘change management.’)  I also introduced a caveat about linear, sequential, ‘programmatic’ change methodologies and briefly discussed the emergence over the last 15 years or so, of a more organic and emergent view of organizational change.

I observed that these emergent models are less alternatives to the more mechanistic models than they are refinements that help us interpret and apply them – i.e, organizational change can be planned and led, but the plans must be continuously revised in the light of emergent behaviors. And sometimes the emergent behaviors actually precede the recognition of the need for organizational change – i.e., you are not starting from scratch – you often recognize a good change that is happening (perhaps in one part of a company) and want to accelerate and broaden that change.

From “Push” Change Leadership…

Traditional organizational change methods are generally based on a ‘push’ model of change – we (company leadership) want you (employees) to work differently (e.g., reengineered processes, new incentive/reward systems, new tools/technologies, new organization structures, mergers/de-mergers, and so on).  For example, John Kotter’s 8-Step Change Process suggests we should:

  1. Establish a sense of urgency
  2. Create a guiding coalition
  3. Develop a vision and strategy
  4. Communicate the change vision
  5. Empower broad based action
  6. Generate short term wins
  7. Consolidate gains and produce more change
  8. Anchor change in the new culture

There is something both ‘Taylorist’ (the leaders are smart and know what to do, the workers are dumb and must be told what to do) and inherently manipulative about this approach.  I believe that the types of changes many companies are attempting to engage in today require that both ‘hearts and minds’ must be engaged in the change.  It’s not enough for them to simply to follow a new process – they must truly understand and wholeheartedly embrace the values and ideals behind the process.  They must want to follow the new process (or whatever the change being implemented is), not do so just because they’ve been told to.  Ensuring an exceptional customer experience, for example, does not simply happen because your customer-facing employees follow new procedures.

As such, change that requires “hearts and minds”, while it might be accomplished through a ‘push’ model of change leadership, is far more likely to take hold with more of a ‘pull’ approach.  In fact, I’d argue that most of the changes around Enterprise 2.0 (corporate and organizational adoption of Web 2.0 technologies, social networking, and so on) very much lend themselves to a ‘pull’ approach, or at least to more of a balance between ‘push’ and ‘pull’ change models.

… to “Pull” Change Leadership

So, adopting Enterprise 2.0 really requires more of a ‘pull’ approach to organizational change management.  And the good (great!) news is that Web 2.0 lends itself to enabling this kind of change.  Of course, there’s a ‘catch 22’ here – if people aren’t using Web 2.0 (or even worse in some companies – are not allowed to use these tools!), then how can they be used to facilitate change?

We will dig deeper into this in a subsequent post, where I will take a fictitious (but realistic) change situation and see how Web 2.0 ‘pull’ can be leveraged as a great counterbalance to traditional ‘push’ methods of change.

Image courtesy of Transforming Visions

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