We’re seeing incredible societal change on a global basis. Much of this starts as ‘bottom up’ change and gathers pace. Political regimes can fall almost overnight. This makes it seem like business organisations are incredibly ponderous and slow.
Should change be more chaotic? I’m not sure.
When a regime falls, the political and economical mechanisms may exist to minimise fallout. In some cases, a whole new infrastructure is required, and only once those are in place has the change been completed and all of the potential ‘benefits’ been realised. Look at Libya, for example. When will all aspects of life for most Libyans be better than it was? That’s not to suggest that Gadaffi’s regime was good for most. It simply means that in order to achieve regime change the Libyan people will have had to have made other sacrifices, largely economical, in the short to medium term.
In a large, complex organisation, the interdependencies between departments, countries and business units are, like a country’s economy, so numerous and so embedded in systems and processes that if change is allowed to happen without control then the short-term results could be catastrophic. If information fails to flow, customers are impacted, transactions will fail, or perhaps worse, subtle errors could be introduced that take time to fully emerge and do damage over a period of time.
I believe that change should be initiated, as societal change often is, at the grass roots, by employees. But what’s required is some sort of mechanism that allows ideas to be developed and explored, then implemented in a controlled way if necessary. Companies have to keep delivering to shareholders at the same time as creating new ways of working. Hospitals need to keep treating patients, local authorities need to keep the streets clean.
Organisations need some sort of structure, at some point, to make change work. As does society…