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Guiding the Organizational Change Journey

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A Hero's Journey perspective on guiding organizational change and transformation and comparison to traditional change management approaches, including aspects of motivation, emotions, positive focus and alignment with the organization's core ideas and strategy. Extensive use of organizational change journey mapping and narratives in leadership. A proposal for epic servant leadership as the ideal guide for organizational change journeys.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Guiding the Organizational Change Journey

  1. 1. Arturo J. Bencosme, PhD ajbencosme@comcast.net
  2. 2. Having an understanding of the nature of organizational change, a map of the change process to be going through, a narrative about the journey ahead, and the will to encourage the followers to become fellow travelers along the journey will all support the organizational change guide. Resources for Guiding Organizational Change
  3. 3. Organizational change management is about learning to adapt the organization to evolving circumstances or new objectives in pursuit of an aspired future. That is, organizational learning overlaps with organizational change. “An organization's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage." Jack Welch 1 - Understanding the Nature of Organizational Change
  4. 4. A classic metaphor from the physics: “Unfreeze-Change-Freeze” It depicts organizational change as if changing the shape of a cube of ice: first unfreeze it while placed in an appropriate mold and then refreeze it. Lewin’s Organizational Change Model
  5. 5. Offers a graphical depiction (related to Lewin’s model) of the subjective experiences over time: Initial dive into negativity -surprise, denial, followed by fear, anger-, reaches bottom, and then rises into positivity -acceptance, implementation. The “Change Curve”
  6. 6.  Minimizing the negative impacts via communication, coaching and so forth.  Accelerating the process via infusing optimism, adaptation, exploration and comfort with the new situation. Insights from the change curve can help managing the change process by:
  7. 7. 1 2 3 A transformational approach to describing organizational change promotes engagement by including motivation, basic beliefs, concerns, empowerment, learning, risk taking etc. in addition to technical aspects. Describing organizational change processes purely as a succession of stages brings some clarity about the stages that are involved. But it lacks engaging magnetism. 2 - Mapping the Journey of Organizational Change
  8. 8. R.C. Allen, Guiding Change Journeys: A Synergistic Approach to Organization Transformation. Visual storytelling of the change journey “A change journey map can help a system survey the change terrain and identify possible paths and destinations. Journey mapping can help people and organizations to discover their own creative intentions and design their own change itineraries. They can custom plan specific journeys to reach their personal and organizational goals...” provides a compact yet effective way of applying the transformational approach by appealing to the discerning intellect and the emotional resonance.
  9. 9. Levin and Allen warn about the negative emotional energies along the change process. A more attractive approach will call on the positive emotional energies required for a successful organizational change process, such as overcoming a cliff in a mountain climbing trekking journey. Focusing on the Positive Energies in Organizational Change
  10. 10. Reframing organizational change into Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, The Hero’s Journey ~ an archetype of deep change or transformation ~ surfaces the epicness in organizational change. The Hero's Journey Cycle of Transformation Highlighting Epicness in Organizational Change
  11. 11. This sets the foundation for constructing deeply engaging journey maps. Campbell suggested that this pattern might comprise up to 19 stages. A simplified eight stage version is adopted here. The Hero’s Journey pattern allows for a collective dimension, a shared epic intent for the process of organizational change.
  12. 12. A Hero’s Journey depiction of organizational change is comprehensive It encompasses objective elements (re-engineered workflows, new products or services) AND subjective experiences and cultural shifts (such as overcoming fears and concerns)
  13. 13. The organizational change process reframed into the Hero’s Journey pattern includes attaining the change goals and sharing the boon from the journey of change with the community in an expanded “world as usual” of the organization. An Important Caveat
  14. 14. The sigmoid “S” learning curve captures the essence in the mountain trekking analogy’s positive focus for organizational change. The “Learning to Change” Curve
  15. 15. Harnessing the Emotional Energy along the Learning to Change Curve The appropriate emotional state in the organization can be fostered to match the positive focus in learning to change Á la Hero’s Journey. Improved Organization Change in Process Business as Usual INITIATION / PASSAGE RETURN / CELEBRATION The Expanded World as Usual DEPARTURE / PREPARATION The World as Usual Trust Serenity Resolve Compassion Awe Passion Appreciation Surprise Enthusiasm Celebration Gratitude Joy Optimism, Courage, Synergy, Interdependence & Assertiveness. Openness, Creativity, Commitment, Discernment, Detachment. Organizing, integrating, Sharing, Harmonizing, Enjoyment. Starting the Change Process Implementing Change
  16. 16. Harnessing the Emotional Energy along the Learning to Change Curve A key message when adopting a learning to change curve vs. the traditional change curve: Focusing on the positive is a winning script. Improved Organization Change in Process Business as Usual INITIATION / PASSAGE RETURN / CELEBRATION The Expanded World as Usual DEPARTURE / PREPARATION The World as Usual Starting the Change Process Implementing Change > >
  17. 17. 3 - Narratives about Organizational Change Journey Ahead “ The Epic Story about Our Future" “Leading from the results” … change in itself hardly sells to the organization. By contrast, a dream (e.g., an aspiration to attain a desired end result) impels people. While planning a change process is mostly an intellectual construct, a dream has an appeal and enchantment of its own. That is easy to convoke through symbols and images in visual stories For describing the process and the end result of the change process.
  18. 18. Organizational Storytelling - Especially when the narrative is future focused is a powerful means for developing and leading organizations. The change process reframed into the Hero’s Journey pattern is the foundation for composing a compelling story that will be embodied throughout the organization to promote the meeting of the minds and the hearts of all.
  19. 19. What are the challenges ahead? And, which could kill the process but if overcome, will be the tipping point? How to prepare for transforming obstacles into possibilities? Who / what will be the aides and who / what the opponents to the success? What betterment for society and the world at large would this organizational change process bring? Future focused, epic organizational change stories will address important questions
  20. 20. In the direction of appropriately facing obstacles & challenges, bringing a sense of oneness with the organization’s core ideas and the path ahead aiming to contribute to the larger-than-the-organization purpose. The end result is deep motivation to be a part of bringing that purpose to life. An epic story about the change ahead will reinforce the organizational culture
  21. 21. A Generic script for an Epic Change Narrative World As Usual Call to Adventure Departure Gate Keeper First Threshold Road of Trials Abyss / Supreme Challenge Claiming The Treasure Convergence with the True Self Second Threshold Preparing to Return Arrival & Celebration The Expanded World As Usual can be derived directly from the change process map reframed into the Hero’s Journey
  22. 22. The World as Usual Inefficiency? Internal Conflicts? Stagnation? Diminishing Sales? Outdated Technology? Lack of New Ideas? Dysfunctional Infrastructure? Wrong Location? Conformist Culture? : : Business as Usual The Call to Adventure Committing to the organization’s shared epic intent: The need and/or will to embark in organizational re-structuring, changes to take advantage of new opportunities and so forth, is the call. The awareness of the significance of a successful change in terms of benefiting itself and society simultaneously will serve as the backdrop for the organization´s epic journey of transformation.
  23. 23. Departure - Alignment with the Organization’s Purpose. Guidance & Advice, Aides & Opponents. How does this change will contribute to manifest the organization’s values and purpose? What guidance & advice from reliable sources are available? And, who or what will be aides and opponents to the change process? The Gate Keeper - Clarifying & Deepening the Commitment to the Organization’s Shared Epic Intent. What are the concerns and considerations about possible obstacles to the successful completion of the change? What scenarios can be constructed to better visualize them? DEPARTURE / PREPARATION
  24. 24. Endurance Trials - Transforming Adversity into Opportunities - Utilizing Everything for Collective Learning. How to best utilize resources such as learning from past experiences, consultants, creativity and so forth? Abyss / Supreme Challenge - Overcoming the Greatest Barriers. What can kill the process? How to re-enforce the mindset already used to overcome enduring trials? The greatest fear might not be about the organization’s inadequacy to succeed but the realization that it its unbeatable. Claiming the Treasure: - Fulfillment of the Change Goals. How to acknowledge success and still keep on the journey toward sharing the learning and benefiting society? Convergence with the Organization’s True Self: - Internal Alignment – Strengthening the Corporate Culture. How to gain a deeper awareness that it is not just that they did it, but it is who they are. INITIATION / PASSAGE
  25. 25. Preparing to Return - Owning the Treasure & Bringing it into Society. How to deepen the learning from the change journey? How to improve on future change processes? Should the assumptions made be re- examined? How does the change that was attained align with the organization´s identity. Arrival & Celebration - Freedom from fear: Letting the Passion for the Highest Contribution for a Better World Lead the Organization’s Evolution. How to reciprocate to society in a way that is consistent with the organization’s purpose? RETURN / CELEBRATION
  26. 26. How will the organization’s “world as usual” or “business as usual” become expanded because of the change implemented, the learning, and so forth? What would it mean for the organization to master two worlds: the ordinary one –thriving in its day-to-day and the extraordinary one –knowing that it is capable of pursuing deep change? The Organization’s “New World as Usual”
  27. 27. IV - The Ideal Guide: An Epic Servant Leader Encouraging and fostering a shared embodiment of the organization’s heroic path will bring an extraordinary connection among the members of the organization all of whom, in turn, are living their own personal journey. Thus, supporting each member of the organization and enrolling them Into the organization’s journey are paramount. The ideal organizational change guide would thus be an Epic Servant Leader –assisting the members of the organization in contributing to a better world in a “hero’s journey” way.
  28. 28. • Someone who illuminates the organization based on firsthand knowledge of heroic journeys. • Able to turn adversity into advantages. • Founded on personal wholeness. • A champion of learning. • Oriented to transformational service to others. • Keen on interconnectedness, seeing possibilities and synchronicity. • Capable of leading through storytelling. The Epic Servant Leader would be:
  29. 29. Driven to illuminate the organization based on firsthand knowledge of heroic journeys. This would allow the guide to share that knowledge with others and likely inspire them to follow their own journey. Most importantly, it will support the guide to empower others through mentorship.
  30. 30. Able to turn adversity into advantages Displaying resilience that was acquired possibly through having gone successfully past trials and challenges along his / her hero’s journey. This allows the guide to respond to obstacles in a way that results in positive outcomes.
  31. 31. The Ideal Guide: Founded on personal wholeness Leading from a place of authenticity not of authority or other circumstances. This would be a guide who embodies the hero in his or her own life and portrays his or her own integrity regardless of the role being played personally, professionally and so forth: being loyal to his or her values, sense of purpose and aspirations.
  32. 32. A champion of learning - Exert the Role of a Chief Learning Officer A guide that strives for learning both intellectually and intuitively throughout the entire organization and models learning.
  33. 33. Oriented to transformational service to others– especially to the followers. This guide will strive to maintain a dynamic balance between impelling the organization’s journey and serving the self-realization of those who are the followers.
  34. 34. Keen on interconnectedness, seeing possibilities and synchronicity This guide would co-create new realities by means of developing an awareness of the interconnections within the system in which the organization operates and aiming to the possibilities that such an awareness brings: new interconnections establish new realities. Committing to work under this paradigm will open the door to synchronicity.
  35. 35. Capable of leading through storytelling A guide that exerts his or her leadership by means of engaging the followers in the construction of a shared organizational myth or legend as a collective learning process that includes every person’s individual myth intertwined with that of the organization
  36. 36. The Ideal Organizational Change Guide Is an Epic Servant Leader
  37. 37. Reframing and guiding organizational change into a hero’s journey allows for deriving meaning from past experiences, engaging positively in the change process and planning for and manifesting a transcendental purpose along the future. Just as individuals can take the path of being of service to others following the hero’s journey in their lives, so can any organization elect to take the same path. Once the members of an organization make this choice, they will have crossed an important ontological threshold: they have left behind being just an organization to become a fellowship of travelers in the field of meaning and transcendence.
  38. 38. Epic Reading Allen, R. (2002). Guiding Change Journeys: A Synergistic Approach to Organization Transformation. John Willey & Sons. Campbell, J. (1973). The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton – Bollingen. Jarnagin, C., & Slocum Jr., J. (2007). Creating Corporate Cultures Through Mythopoetic Leadership. Organizational Dynamics , 36 (3). Ledet, W. (2002). Making the Move Toward a Learning Organization: A Classic Journey of Change. Ledet Enterprises, Inc. Lewin, K. (2016). Frontiers of Group Dynamics: Concept, method and reality in social science, social equilibria, and social change. Human Relations , 5-41. Lotze, E. (2004). Work Culture Transformation - Straw to Gold - The Modern Hero's Journey. K• G• Saur München. Vogler, C. (2007). The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers (3 ed.). Michael Wiese Prod. Wahlstrom, T. (1999). Psychological Applications in Management: The Hero's Journey. Dissertation.Com. Holder, R.J. & McKinney, R. (1999), Corporate Change and the Hero’s Quest. Human Energy Design Systems and Richard — Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville.

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