Strategic Business Change: Seven Phases to Non-Displace-Ability — Part 1

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There are three interdependent drivers that are core to all successful change and alignment efforts. All three drivers must be held together within the context of a developmental orientation in order to ensure sustained success. While this developmental orientation will be explored in coming articles, we can review the key drivers herein. Those three drivers are: a unifying philosophy, a clear business theory, and a systemic technology. Aligning with and integrating these key drivers yields:

  • Consistently growing financial effectiveness, (without quarterly wobbles);
  • Loyal and creative employees who think of the company as their own; and
  • Customers that depend on you for a fabulous life and business.

Almost all organizations, business or otherwise, engage in various business processes focused on change and improvement. Most of these organizations allow individual leaders to select their preferred change processes and permit a variety of approaches to co-exist across the organization at one time. Although this approach seems democratic and is intended to encourage creativity, it actually tends to cause a loss of creativity and energy in the organization.

Many well-meaning CEOs attempt to encourage cross-organizational learning in this way and some with top down led programs that appear to be more “whole”, such as Six Sigma. Rarely, however, are these programmatic approaches as encompassing as need be in order to create the unifying thrust required to enjoy the desired outcomes expressed in bullet points above.

Fragmented use and installation of techniques, models, and programs can have significantly adverse effects on your organization. Among the side effects resulting from a multiplicity of programmatic approaches are:

  • Mixed messages about what really matters;
  • Conflicting approaches and goals leading to missed targets;
  • Redundant and wasted human and organizational effort;
  • Non-strategic use of resources; and
  • Cynical employees who are tired and increasingly suspicious of the myriad “flavor of the month” approaches.

Continuous improvement in financial performance (earnings, margins, and cash flow) as well as improvement in the marketplace performance requires an organization that is aligned from top to bottom and from input through output and beyond. Additionally, the business must continue to develop and improve that alignment. Therefore ableness to develop and manage change becomes critical. The good news is that all companies and almost all employees understand the axiom “the only thing constant is change”. The bad news is that companies and organizations have embarked on a massive set of programs and initiatives to ferment change and yet the general lack of strategic philosophy and approach to change efforts tends to cause less, not more, alignment and in many cases less flexibility to adapt to external forces over time. It is a little like multiple surgeons working on a patient without thinking about the patient as a whole, the degree of disruption the patient can stand, or whether drugs given by each surgeon might conflict. Each physician can defend his or her program, but the patient does not have the best care possible.

Holographic Business Change — Creating the Non-Displace-Ability Advantage

In science, it is well known that healthy systems continuously change and manage themselves relative to an encoded pattern. They continue to grow and produce based on every part of the plant or animal “knowing” what the whole of the being is about and how each part is to function in order to carry out its role. This is an envious process for leaders guiding human systems, who have the desire to have the organization as a whole working as a single organism to achieve the organization’s ends and having every person feel a meaningful part of that creation.

A few systems in the corporate world have achieved such a way of working and have reaped the results in performance terms, as well as being rated highly as a place to work. They are following a process that is organic and yet replicable by any organization that is willing to put in the effort to achieve such an end. This paper is designed to briefly outline the specific phases of a process that creates the conditions for such an effort.

A non-displace-able business tends to evolve over a period of years by following seven phases of development. In the next part of this series, we’ll examine the first three phases.

About Carol Sanford

Carol Sanford is a regenerative business educator, the award winning author of The Regenerative Business: Redesign Work, Cultivate Human Potential, Achieve Extraordinary Outcomes, and executive in residence and senior fellow in social innovation at Babson College. She has worked with fortune 500 executives and rock star entrepreneurs for 40 years, helping them to innovate and grow their businesses by growing their people. Learn more about Carol and her work at her website.

Sr Fellow Social Innovation, Babson | Best Selling/Multi-Award Winning Author | Regenerative Paradigm Educator

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