The terms “disruption” or “disruptive” are pretty trendy now. We have disruptive technologies, which then became disruptive innovation. Disruptive HR. And of course, the always popular, disruptive behavior disorders. Unfortunately, it seems like we’re seeing a lot of that one now.
I’ve always maintained that many organizations look for that next shiny object or trend that will solve their – fill in the blank: management, service, engagement, sales, culture etc. – issues. Usually what happens is that about 12 – 18 months later after investing time and money in the latest management trend and things haven’t changed, there’s the proclamation that it doesn’t work. The 3-ringed implementation binders are stored on a shelf and it’s on to the next big thing.
As I see it, there are several problems when “disruption” is used as the approach to change.
Dazed and Confused
While any approach to change in an organization’s processes or culture is disruptive, to disrupt for the sake of disruption is irresponsible and dangerous. In these situations, there is no plan, no vision, no enlightened, empowering or beneficial purpose for people to look to for the future. People are left dazed and confused. The instability and uncertainty of the disruptions are unnerving. For some, especially those in leadership roles who are expected to lead, manage and implement the disruption-without-a-plan, the anxiety can be overwhelming. The rest of the employees are told to “deal with it.”
There is pressure to be a team player, to be supportive of leadership, to be a “good soldier.” Everyone suffers, except the person (or people) whose brilliant idea it was to be disruptive.
As a corporate executive I had to champion many of these unfortunate initiatives. I also had the opportunity to helped lead successful massive and revolutionary changes in several organizations. So I know the difference. As a consultant I have specialized in helping leaders create empowering and sustainable change in many different industries.
Purpose Beyond Petty Problems
I have witnessed and been part of orchestrating organizational changes that are celebrated and rewarding for the majority of people. The reason these changes were successful was because there was a vision and a purpose that was for the good of the whole, not a select few. The vision and purpose for change in each organization went way beyond petty problems and focused on a bigger vision that benefited people internally and externally. The leaders of these organizations not only created a compelling picture of the future, but they frequently communicated that vision and the benefits.
People wanted to be part of the future, to help create that future and to contribute to something bigger than they could accomplish by themselves. There’s an energy and excitement that comes with reaching milestones toward that vision. Acknowledging and celebrating these milestones is part of the culture. The ownership and accountability for success is shared and worn like a badge of honor. Likewise, there is ownership and accountability for setbacks, which are used as learning opportunities rather than threats.
Because there is a common vision and purpose, people can, and will, speak up when they question decisions that don’t seem aligned. They are not considered “disruptive” or disloyal. Instead, even though some find the questioners annoying or are irritated that the inquiry is slowing things down, there’s respect for the process.
One last thought – there is a a key component of successful change initiatives: Trust.
There must be trust in leadership’s intention and purpose for the change. Depending on the scope and impact of the initiative, employees, shareholders, vendors, customers and/or communities must trust that the change is good for the whole and not a select few.
Marty Stanley, CSP, is a revolutionary and cultural architect. As a corporate executive in two different companies she helped transform the group health insurance and film exhibition industries that set them ahead of the competition. For over 15 years she has been a catalyst to help leaders implement organizational change that is empowering, regenerating and sustainable.
No theory. No fluff. No “flavor of the month.”
She’s the real deal. Don’t settle for anything less.
Contact Marty today 816-695-5453 or firstname.lastname@example.org www.alteringoutcomes.com
For more information on being a Type T leader, watch this 1 minute video.
Or order the book on How to Be a Transformational Leader in a Bottom-Line World.