Recently, I attended the annual kick-off of Sogeti Netherlands. With around 1100 of my colleague we talked about 2017 in retrospect and had an insight into the plans, goals, and ambitions for 2018. Great to feel all that energy and I am proud that such a kick-off is a fundamental part of what makes us Sogeti and who we are.
One of the speakers was Menno van Doorn, chief VINT and among other things he talked about the acceleration of technical progress and change of the market/world and the light speed in which this is happening. So, he proposed to “start-up the acceleration, smart up the change”.
This got me thinking, isn’t it time to not only smarten the change but to change the change all-in-all?
How many companies initially fail in their need to transform? How many examples do you have of companies failing to change?
So stop changing and start changing the change. First, whenever you are busy or feel overwhelmed, grab a chair and sit down for at least 5 minutes. Look around, what do you see, what do you feel? What are you going to address first and go from there? Don’t get swallowed up in today’s chaos.
By now companies should realize that if they want sustainable change, it’s about time to do so profoundly different. No more scheduled “creative, out of the box sessions” or other failed techniques, no! Hard reset and make the change happen.
This starts with creating an environment in which everybody feels safe. Safe in a way that they will always make themselves heard and are not afraid to be critic about something. If you speak up in a meeting of some kind, you won’t get fired so to speak. Too many times the top-down strategy with hard targets or KPI’s interpreted as targets are forced upon all “participants” and this sphere of fear and reckoning kills all creativity and scares the participants. In my blog about value by transformation (found here), I talked about support and engagement. In a culture of fear, both will be missing.
But how do we change the way we initiate change? Let’s acknowledge that some things could have been done better and regardless of best intentions, previous endeavors left room for improvement (those whose glasses are half empty might say, it failed). Explain that only together there is a way out of the swamp. Make sure everybody feels safe, and in that safe context everybody is encouraged to give feedback, to speak up and to change the change.
Oftentimes this is a major shift in culture, so please take enough time for this. Make sure that at least it is starting to sink in. Many transformations, whether it be DevOps, Agile or digital-focused is mostly culture. It is not solved in new hardware, more automation or different tooling, it is made possible and hence made a success by the people working for the transforming company. Yet it remains a challenge to convert to a more tribal leadership model where the focus is inward and not outward focused on the competition as explained by Larry page here. Beating the competition (if at all possible) will not change the way you think and act.
So a shift in culture is required and that takes time, a lot of time. Remember to change the way you put on your socks in on of my previous blogs? Imagine the time it will take to make a change in your company.
It’s not too late and remember you can start to make a change today, right now! Break down the vertical silo’s (be aware not to replace them by horizontal silo’s, more on this in a later blog). Foster knowledge sharing and make the different islands a continent again. Making a mistake is nothing more than an opportunity to learn more, it’s the way you look at it and the manner you act upon it that makes ALL the difference. Are you allowed to make mistakes? No, then maybe it’s time to make a change, starting today, starting now!