Systems thinking is a powerful tool for understanding what’s happening in organisational change.
Here are three insights that can support thinking during periods of change.
- Respect cynicism. Change triggers self-protection which is a healthy response to a threat which has yet to be assessed properly. If you’re encountering cynicism consider the need to increase the safety you or other people feel. If it is one person, seek to understand what triggers and eases this for them. Resist shooting the messenger.
- It is never one person. Often we come into a team environment and the fear or belief that lurks in the corners is that one person is responsible. If you are leading change of any kind, believe and know in your bones that it is never one person that is the cause. Go looking for the patterns in beliefs and behaviours that are supporting whatever is ‘stuck’ and if possible support everyone to make small changes.
- The role of the system. If people are behaving in a certain consistent way, which is perhaps unhelpful, then there are a network of systems, structures and processes which are serving to sustain the status quo. There are seen and unseen forces at play because people are not unlike plants. When you are managing change, attend to both supporting the plant and changing the conditions it lives in. Attend to both and you will be both more effective and kinder.