Why proven change methodologies fail
Not All Environments Are Created Equal
Over the years countless service providers and consultants of change methodologies have said how the way businesses operate, in general, are not all that unique from one another. Therefore, the solutions they were proposing were made to work on a universal basis and will work in most situations where there is adequate commitment on the part of management or the individual.
In addition, these solution providers had an answer if there was some unique aspect that needed to be accounted for. They would argue that it was either in the best interest for that organization or individual to eliminate the uniqueness (for example, follow best business practices) or they would say, “don’t worry; our solution is easily customizable/configurable.”
Once again, on a global level such arguments make sense (for example, every manager or individual wants to be known for following best practices) and in some cases might even be an accurate assessment. However, management and individuals need to recognize that this is not always the case. The environment in which a change must take place is generally very complex and has developed over time in some sort of integrated relationship.
Therefore, the conditions in that environment might never support a given change solution. Also, even if the environment is modified to support the requirements of a given change solution, it might represent a complete revision of the organization with both plus and minus ramifications.
For example, a particular business system used to obtain a specific change in an organization might require individuals that have a specific skill set. By using that same business system in an environment where individuals with that skill set are few or nonexistent can make such a system either inoperable or unacceptable from a cost perspective. Likewise, a diet that works for a healthy person might not work for an individual that has a particular health condition (note, that in this case the body is considered a unique environment).
Leveraging Environmental Override to Your Benefit
Many a management group has been frustrated when a proven process fails to work in their organization and many individuals have been equally frustrated when a proven process that has worked for others, fails to work for them.
The key take away is that by understanding the change science principle of environmental override, you are now in a position to address it head-on at the beginning of your change solution selection process. Here’s how you can do this:
- Make sure you clearly understand all of the requirements associated with that solution.
- Look at the conditions that exist in the environment in which this solution will be executed and compare them to the above requirements.
- REALISTICALY assess whether the conditions in the environment can be adjusted to support the requirements of the proposed solution.
- Make sure EVERYONE in the organization (including upper management) agrees with the operational, financial and cultural ramifications associated with adjusting the conditions in the environment to support the proposed solution. If this solution is for you individually, make sure all the ramifications associated with adjusting the conditions in your environment are realistically acceptable.