Change needs to shake things up to be successful

Apr 05 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Much as making an omelette depends on cracking eggs, successful organisational change depends on disrupting the status quo, employers have been told.

With one in three major organisational changes failing to achieve the efficiency or effectiveness objectives that lie behind them, Ben Bryant of London Business School is set to tell delegates at a conference being run by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development that effective change means moving out of the comfort zone.

Bryant, a fellow at the school's Centre for Management Development, said: "Some leaders get sucked into reinforcing the predictability of the work environment.

"Human resource development professionals play a critical role in helping leaders to create an environment where it's OK to question and challenge Ė this is what really brings about significant culture change.

"HRD professionals need to act as change agents, challenging the businesses leaders to be more aware of the impact of their actions on the desired culture change," he added.

Too often leaders and HRD professionals believed the answer lay in formal culture change programmes.

"But our research shows that leaders who are more aware of the impact of their unconscious, day to day behaviours and actions can challenge the status quo and actually make culture change happen," said Bryant.

HR could also help to shape culture change through so-called "cultural conversations", he argued.

"Rather than focusing on communicating an inspirational vision for culture change, HRD professionals need to encourage interactive conversations that move the organisation towards its desired culture. This is a risky approach, but it's the only way to achieve real culture change," he continued.

"HRD professionals have a critical role to play in developing the awareness and skills of leaders who shape culture change Ė they must become the activists.

"They need to be skilful at challenging senior managers, and they need to be comfortable with the risks of letting the change process enter unchartered waters," Bryant concluded.