Can we talk…you know, about our people-built change readiness?

We have to talk…

During a career in Quality and Process Improvement using Lean Six Sigma and project management tools and techniques, I realized that I was nearly always bumping into the people side of change, but we weren’t talking about it. Is this your experience? If we did talk, it was about apparent resistance to change. But this didn’t square with me since we change, even choose change, all the time. I got to thinking about what has to happen in an organization to foster an employee-built people capability for what seems like continual change. What would a practitioner focus on to strengthen that capability as a readiness resource? How would you start a positive change readiness conversation?

Three strategies:

1) Create a legitimate space to talk about people readiness. In one company, we introduced a strand called Human Sigma into the basic Quality and advanced Six Sigma training seminars. That way, we could use the rigor of improvement science to analyze and impact people behaviors related to change projects. This was well-received.

2) Gather workgroup-level behavior data to start the readiness conversation. My work indicates that there is an employee-built storehouse of capabilities related to organizational resilience that, if deliberately assessed and supported, can create a reliable readiness for change, planned and unplanned, as a strategic resource. That storehouse, though, can be a quiet ­– even hidden – asset. I developed a survey process (10-minutes) with qualitative follow up to bring these workgroup level capabilities to light.

3) Begin with strengths. Since resilience is a strengths-based capacity, this study initiates a focus on employee-built strengths that can be intentionally leveraged now. We can start an appreciative conversation about the impact of change and the critical role of specific workgroup beliefs and behaviors.

Now I’m eager to find organizations willing to participate in this research in partnership with Fielding Graduate University’s Institute for Social Innovation. Do let me know if such a conversation could benefit an organization you know.

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