Change Management as Unconscious Competence: What Does It Take to Get There?

 

This is the third of four posts exploring the possibility of change management as an unconscious competence. In the first post (What If Change Management Were An Unconscious Competence? ), I presented the four stages of competence model and used it as a lens to consider the state of organizational change management ability. I observed that Stage Four organizations – ones where change management has evolved to the level of an unconscious competence – are rare but do exist.

In the second post (Change Management Evolved), I explored what we would see if we were to encounter a Stage Four organization. In this post, I will present what I believe it takes to develop Stage Four competency.

Like any form of superior human achievement, reaching Stage Four requires effort and discipline. Superior achievement doesn’t happen by chance. Additionally, however, in an organizational setting where many people in different units are involved, there are other elements that must be added to effort and discipline to complete the formula. I have identified six such elements that help to make Stage Four attainable. Continue reading

Change Management Evolved

This is the second of four posts exploring the possibility of change management as an unconscious competence. In the first post (What If Change Management Were An Unconscious Competence?), I presented the four stages of competence model and used it as a lens to consider the state of organizational change management ability. I observed that, in my experience, Stage Four organizations – ones where change management has evolved to the level of an unconscious competence – are uncommon but do exist. These are organizations that have purposefully committed the time, resources, and effort to establish a cultural context that enables change management competency at this level.

Let’s push the exploration further. If you or I were to encounter a Stage Four organization – one where change management is a highly evolved competency – what would we learn and see? Continue reading

What If Change Management Were An Unconscious Competence?

 

There is a conceptual model of skill development that has been around for many years. Noel Burch generally is credited with having developed the model. Most of you will know it as the four stages of competence. It goes like this.

Stage One – Unconscious Incompetence

At this stage, an individual doesn’t understand or know how to do something but isn’t aware of the skill deficiency. Where a particular skill is concerned, the individual is Ignorant.

Stage Two – Conscious Incompetence

At this stage, the individual doesn’t understand or know how to do something but is conscious of the skill deficiency. The individual is Aware.

Stage Three – Conscious Competence

At this stage, the individual understands and knows at an elementary level of skill how to do something, but developing the new skill requires a great investment of concentration and effort. The individual is Learning.

Stage Four – Unconscious Competence

At this stage, the individual has repeated the skill so many times and has become so proficient that performing the skill has become “second nature.” It is performed automatically and requires no particular concentration. At this level, the individual exhibits Mastery.

Everyone reading this post has experienced the four stages of competence relative to something. For some, it may have been when you Continue reading

Five Reasons for Creating a Change Network

No one knows for sure how many change efforts fail.  An often-cited statistic is that nearly three quarters do.  Some have pushed back at that number as being far too high.  To complicate the matter further, when a statistic like this is mentioned, criteria for judging success or failure are never cited.

Leaving “failure” (however that may be defined) aside,  a lot of change efforts, in my experience, fail to reach their intended potential. For all of the effort and disruption that people experience through the process of the change, there is often a considerable gap between what was initially envisioned and what becomes reality. Think of it as the change potential gap.

There are a variety of factors that contribute to the gap. I’m guessing that if I asked you to make your own list it might look something like this: Continue reading

Five Places to Anticipate Support Alignment Before It’s Too Late

A colleague and I made a rookie mistake in our very first work system redesign project for a manufacturing organization.

Through a great deal of joint effort over many months, the organization had been transformed from a traditional assembly line where workers could only perform a few narrowly prescribed tasks to a high performance work system where, among other things, workers could:

  • Build the entire product from beginning to end individually.
  • Manage all aspects of process and product quality.
  • Plan and execute their own daily and weekly production schedule.
  • Continuously improve and innovate the process and the organization.

All of these activities happened in self-managed teams. It was a huge transformation for the organization and its team members.

It became evident pretty quickly that paying people according to their old pay grades, based on now outdated job classifications, no longer made sense.

The organization needed to pay people for acquired and applied skill. The client needed a skill-based pay plan.

Along with the client, we gave ourselves a crash course in skill-based pay plans and even sketched out a framework for what we needed. Armed with our homework, we met with the Director of Compensation in HR, confident that he would see the misalignment as we saw it and come to our aid in putting a solution in place.

His reaction surprised us.

Continue reading

When It Comes to Change, How Fast and Agile Is Your Company?

I am delighted to introduce Pamela Dennis, Ph.D., a long-time friend, colleague, and former owner of Destra Consulting, who has graciously agreed to share her experience and wisdom on the subject of "change-ability" in this guest post.

I work with executives who want to grow their companies, but they’re concerned that creating change will slow things down and make their organizations ponderous.

When it comes to growth, they want their companies to be racehorses, not elephants.

But did you know that elephants, despite being the world’s largest land animal, run up to 25 miles per hour? Usain Bolt, currently the world's fastest human, averaged 23.3 miles per hour in his world record 100-meter race.

Growth and size don’t always have to make companies slow and unwieldy.

In my experience, the critical factor is having a company that possesses “change-ability” – the natural capability for speed and agility in response to an ever-changing environment.

The 3 Most Important Drivers of “Change-ability”

How do you create a company with speed and agility while at the same time maintaining current advantage? Your company must have these core abilities:

Continue reading

How Do I Create Meaningful Engagement?

This is the third post in my series on meaningful engagement. You can check out the other two posts in the series here:


Meaningful engagement and the co-creation of change can produce much more commitment than simple buy-in can.

Organizations that settle for buy-in, rather than aspire to meaningful engagement, miss out on the opportunity to:

  • Deepen commitment to the change process
  • Stimulate co-creation of solutions
  • Build business literacy and other important business skills, and
  • Accelerate the pace of change.

I define meaningful engagement as:

Any authentic involvement that allows people to make consequential contributions to the process and the outcome of a change and deepens their understanding of it, their commitment to it, and their ownership of it.”

As I wrote in Meaningful Engagement vs. Buy-In: What's the Difference and Why Should I Care?, leader commitment – including the belief that ordinary people can make extraordinary contributions and the willingness to commit time, effort, and resources to enable them to do so – is the pivotal difference between enabling meaningful engagement and settling for buy-in.

Without a leader’s resolute commitment to authentic involvement, the full measure of meaningful engagement will not be realized.

If we know that meaningful engagement is what we want and need in our organizations, how do we go about creating it?

Continue reading

Meaningful Engagement vs. Buy-In: What’s the Difference and Why Should I Care?

Group Of Designers Having Meeting Around Table In Office

Many years ago, I came across a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal. It read, “Change imposed is change opposed.” A consulting firm that was promoting its change management practice had placed the ad. It held my attention for a long time. I had been familiar for years with the adage “People support what they help to create.” I’d quoted it many times and thought it conveyed what people leading change needed to know about the essence of change management.

However, this new statement conveyed the idea more directly - even bluntly. It caused me to think about how many organizations go about managing change and it caused me to wonder the following all the more.

If imposing change provokes opposition and people do in fact support what they help to create, then why do we continue to manage change in ways that do not truly engage people and do not foster conditions where “meaningful engagement” can occur commonly? Why do we continue to settle for “buy-in” when we want and need so much more? Continue reading

Leading Change in the Middle

Leading change is challenging enough even when your job title is President or Chief Executive Officer. However, when your title isn’t President or Chief anything and you lead in the mid-level of your organization, leading change is even more challenging. That’s because:

  • YOU didn’t get to decide on the change
  • YOU didn’t get to set the vision
  • YOU may or may not have been involved in developing the change plan or the messaging
  • But YOU ARE expected to execute the change for the unit you lead

Businessman Addressing Meeting Around Boardroom Table

What can you do to lead change effectively in the middle? Continue reading