Organizational Practices

Language Gets In The Way

Language is critical. Navigating change involves creating language. At the same time the language that we use gets in the way. The words we choose to communicate our message are essential to our ability to create meaning. But we don’t always do a good job in exercising choice. We obfuscate and we obstruct. We choose obscure and complicated words because we think they sound good. In doing so, we undermine meaning. And we do so at our peril.



Change Is About Creating Language

Words have power. When we create change—and when we build processes—words become particularly important. Not for how we sell the process (although that’s also significant), but for how we define and think about the process itself. Taking the time to get words right is some of the most meaningful work we do in managing change.



“Best Practices” Aren’t Doing For You What You Think They Are

There is a subset of the population that is in love with the idea of “best practices.” It is incredibly appealing to believe that there is one right way of doing things. Simply calling something “best practice” is to implicitly make it unassailable. And yet how we think about best practices says a lot more about the person that it does about the practice.



You Can’t Implement Process And Get Culture

Culture change is hard. And we would prefer not to deal with the hard stuff. All too often, we want to be able to define what we expect, and have behaviours and culture norms to line up behind that. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. Cultural transition is possible, but process doesn’t drive culture. Although culture will determine what process is possible.



Our Ideologies Undermine Us

Beliefs and principles are useful. They guide us when we are dealing with unknowns and uncertainty. They also get in the way, because they blind us to being aware of when they stop working. This is particular true of process, where ideology often gets in the way of adaptation and a recognition of what works here (or what won’t).



You Are One Pivot Away From Oblivion

Startup culture is rooted in principles of failing fast and often, and pivoting on to the next thing. And I absolutely understand the value of adaptation and evolution. But we forget that principles are not hard bound rules. And what works for startups does not necessarily work for their customers.



Appropriation & Adaptation

While models can be awesomely useful, they are ultimately just constructs that were created because they were relevant to someone at some point. What’s more important is understanding where our models come from in the first place: how they are created, how they evolve and what they connect back to. We forget their underpinnings at our peril. But unfortunately we do that a little too often.



This Is All Make-Believe

We fall in love with our models, our processes and our standards. They’re helpful when they help us to make sense of the world, but they can also get in the way. What we sometimes forget is that they were all invented to provide a perspective on a problem. That means we can change them, adapt them, evolve them and dispense with them when they stop providing value.



Culture Matters

Culture matters. That might seem obvious to say, but we tend to ignore that when it comes to process design and organizational change. We can see that when implementing process, what works depends upon context. But the challenge is reading context accurately, and making appropriate choices that work. We need to lead with culture and follow with practice, not the other way around.



Successfully Navigating Process

Getting process right is hard. While we might know what not to do, identify what to do is challenging and difficult. In a world where we accept that the right answer to process is “it depends,” we need to get clear and specific about how we can figure out what it depends on. Identify the questions to ask and the approach to take is challenging. Following it is even harder. Doing both is essential.



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