BLUEPRINTS – ADDING PEOPLE TO THE CHANGE PROCESS

What is an organisational blueprint?

In the simplest sense, a blueprint is a template from which to build. It’s not meant to be sexy; it’s compound but candid. Within organisations, a blueprint is the grouping of processes, systems, and procedures that give structure and sense to what we do. It’s a corporate comfort blanket of familiarity.

It also has a hidden depth.

In this ever-changing world, the role of the organisational blueprint is transforming (Andersen & Ackerman, 2001). Continuous evolution requires the ability to adjust change strategies and organisational processes on the go. Today’s organisational blueprint needs to strike the right balance between stability and elasticity. It must also become a key component in engaging people within the change process.

This battle for more flexibility combined with the basic need for consistency generates the calling for a modern-day manual through change.

The new organisational blueprint is the linchpin between policy and people.

Written in Pencil, Not in Pen

Building a solid foundation lays the groundwork for successful change. A comprehensive change strategy should incorporate three vital components:

‘Process’ represents your company’s blueprint and aligns ‘Policy’ to your ‘People’. All three are interconnected and need to align for the change strategy to be successfully implemented.

Considering the human element of a change strategy creates the opportunity for feedback and innovation. Flexibility within the process allows for the instructions to develop over time. We can then begin to view our blueprint as a dynamic framework of guidelines that adapts to change, while incorporating the needs of people.

Where basic rules and procedures continue to provide structure, the ability to incorporate amendments throughout growth and development becomes the new key ingredient. Much like a well-oiled machine, each component’s effectiveness depends on the support of the others. Organizations that take a fragmented approach and separate their structural and technical changes (i.e. ‘Processes’) from their human and cultural changes (i.e. ‘People’) are often disappointed (Andersen &Ackerman, 2001). In fact, research shows that two thirds or more of change initiatives fail because of the lack of attention given to the people in this equation (Senge, 1990).

Write down the instructions but prepare for challenges and the need for adjustments. Shake the rules when opportunities arise, and seek input to learn what’s working. This agility allows your organisation to respond quicker and more accurately to change.

Creating Comfort in Chaos

Compensatory control theory suggests that we have a basic need to perceive the world as systematic and structured. A grounded psychological desire to seek order in episodes of chaos. Even if the order has negative implications, it is perceived better than none at all (Friesen, 2010).

When there is no fixed framework outlining how to get where the organization needs to go, fear, confusion and blame can run rampant. Yet, enforcing rigid and tedious rules without proper explanation can also create mistrust and feelings of micro-management.

A poor change blueprint will result in a bewildering morass of contradictions: confusion within roles, a lack of co-ordination among functions, failure to share ideas, and slow decision-making. They bring managers unnecessary complexity, stress, and conflict (Zheng, Baiyin & McLean, 2010).

Change takes time, and new habits and behaviours won’t form overnight. Keeping the policy, process and people elements inter-connected raises awareness and provides clarity on the necessity for change. People need to see the benefits and understand their role to buy into a new way of working.

Today’s blueprint must provide clear communication of roles and responsibilities, ensuring those roles are unmistakably linked to strategy and understood by individuals across all departments. In doing so, we create a sense of comfort in chaos by involving people in the change process and encouraging ownership over the outcomes. 

Educating the HOW & Understanding the WHY

Communicating change across multi-dimensional organisations is challenging. A single method of delivery is simply not enough to create true ‘buy in’ from people.

A modern-day blueprint must offer depth and outline purpose in order to ensure understanding of what is expected. This means approaching change initiatives from multiple angles, to increase comprehension across a broader scope of your workforce.

We can achieve this by creating a blueprint campaign to educate the how and build understanding of the why. Build belief in the change plan by bringing it to life in an engaging and inspiring way. Tell stories to support the facts. We know from learning theory that programmes incorporating opportunities to discover, practice, reflect and apply significantly increase transfer (Valerij & Tomaž, 2013). Use these principles to create opportunities to implement process changes into real work routines. Make it relevant to individual roles to increase the perception of importance.

Blueprints are essential to organisations during growth, mergers, restructures and beyond. A clear outline to work from lets ‘business as usual’ run efficiently and transitions happen smoothly throughout times of on-going change.

Ask Yourself:

Are You respecting the rules while flexing the framework for continued improvement?

Have You involved your people in the change process, and recognised their roles?

Do You evolve processes with policy and people in mind?

 

Changing the Blueprint…This is the second in the series of four Change Readiness blogs from Changing Point.

Find out more about how Changing Point can support your organisation be more innovative and change ready at www.changing-point.com 

 

References

Anderson, D., & Ackerman, L. (2001). Beyond Change Management

Bevan, R. (2011). Keeping Change on Track. The Journal for Quality and Participation.
http://www.changestart.com/images/Keeping_change_on_track_-_JQP_2011_Issue_01.pdf

Friesen, J. (2010). Seeking Structure in Social Organization: Compensatory Control and the Psychological Advantages of Hierarchy. https://uwspace.uwaterloo.ca/bitstream/handle/10012/7889/Friesen_Justin.pdf

About the Author:

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Alesha Ockerman Consultant at ChangingPoint. For more information on ChangingPoint, please contact alesha@changing-point.com