Where are we heading to and why? Most change programmes are about adapting to economic times (being able to sell more or to keep the level of sales). But the discussion on why we need a certain change on a deep intrinsic level is hardly addressed. When asked, the most probable answer will be that the survival of the organisation is at stake. Being so directly linked to the survival imperative means that any discussion about the necessity and ends of the change programme could be dismissed as non-relevant.
By a deep intrinsic level I mean a moral level. What values do I stand for? And will I still be able to keep up to my ideals if I follow the proposed change? How much am I willing to offer of myself, my work and by extension my family, friends for the sake of a certain change?
Economy is devoid of any moral values: what we can sell, we will sell, what we can technologically create, we will create. There is hardly any organisation that escapes this logic. And administrations are no longer the ones to be looking at when difficult moral choices arise: in a quickly globalising world their moral legitimacy has vanished (even though their constituencies still expect and demand otherwise).
So organisations need to be looking at themselves. But how? And what process could bring the needed moral guidance?
Every time I do a visioning exercise (which is almost every facilitation), participants create a beautiful world in balance and harmony. There seems to be a deep shared wish that goes beyond the boundaries of every organisation and transcends groups, countries, continents. Even after so many facilitations, I still get excited when I see this happening. It’s always fantastic news for the group in question.
But the most difficult part arises immediately after. And this is also the painful part. It consists of two distinct questions: what are the moral values we need now in order to achieve this vision? And what does this imply for our current values? Needless to say that these two questions are easily ‘forgotten’ by the our-organisation-will-not-survive people.
Granted, values are nowadays omnipresent in our organisations. But more often than not these are usually forced upon by the top. So maybe the process of redesigning the values by the participants themselves is much more important than anything else when planning a change.
In my opinion this means the following 5-step approach:
- Start with a joint exploration: how do we see our future?
- Deepen the vision: based on which values do you want to work?
- Relate to your own reality: what does it say about our current values?
- Adopt the new values: how do we transform old values in the ones we want to have?
- Enter into the dialogue: how do the results of this process relate to the ‘survival’-values?