Putting an Adaptability program in place in an organisation is a bit like a farmer planting seeds and tending to the fields over the summer in anticipation of a great fall harvest. There’s a starting point and an end point. But a lot of things have to happen in between.
And if halfway through the growing season the farmer suddenly decides they don’t want to grow the crop they planted and pull it all up, all the preparations are wasted with nothing to harvest in the autumn.
Of course no farmer in his right mind would rip up his field halfway through the growing season. But unfortunately when it comes to change programs, organisations are notorious for plowing under programs before they’ve had a chance to bear fruit.
I recall working with an organisation during a change transformation when seven out of eight senior managers were dismissed from the company.
That in itself shouldn’t necessarily spell the end of a change process – but it usually does.
It generally comes down to egos. The men and women brought in to take over instinctively presume that projects championed by their predecessors are part of the reason they they were let go. As such, the first order of business is to take things in the opposite direction.
To be fair, new hires are almost always expected to make changes. Unfortunately, in the haste to make an impact, they often set forth on a campaign of destruction to distance themselves from the previous regime.
It’s the modern equivalent of defacing the statues of the last pharaoh – and just about as thoughtful.
But halting an Adaptable transformation during implementation can be disastrous on two fronts.
Adaptability programs are about growing people and if a new management regime halts a program midway through, the achievements that have occurred simply wither on the vine.
It also breaks the social contract organisations make with the employees during the change. That unwritten contract stipulates that management will look after staff and invest in their future in exchange for the employees investing their careers with management. And if that contract isn’t kept the employees will leave.
Some of them have almost no choice. Because once change agents in an organisation find themselves back in a command and control environment without a change agenda, they leave.
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