Category Archives: Executing Change

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?

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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 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.

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.

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