Successful Change Requires Leadership and…….

January 22, 2020
Greetings.
I trust that you all had a good holiday season, one filled with Merrys and Happys. In this newsletter, I’d like to share with you that on 2/11/20 Wharton School Publishing (WSP) will be releasing an updated version of my book with Cassie Solomon, Leading Successful Change: 8 Keys to Making Change Work. This is one of the first second editions that WSP has done and so it’s fairly significant for them and obviously very significant for me, besides being how I spent my 2019 summer vacation.
When you pick up a copy you will notice that while the framework hasn’t changed (see the interview on https://wsp.wharton.upenn.edu/book/leading-successful-change/ ). A number of the cases are new or updated – we’ve included cases on digital industries and on Artificial Intelligence. We discovered through the process of revision and manuscript update that the model (thankfully!) holds over time and business evolution. To aid those interested in implementation we expanded material on how to use the model.
Here, I would emphasize perhaps the key point in the book, a point that applies to anyone pursuing a personal New Year’s resolution or trying to build an organization or an organizational unit: construct an environment that favors the behaviors that you want to see. For example, people collaborate more when living in a setting that encourages collaboration. They compete more in settings that favor competition. We are very adaptive creatures. Adaptation is a species strength, a strength that we often forget when we set about to change our behavior or that of others. We over focus on a person’s (including our own) need to ‘get motivated’ and we under attend to the power of the environment to shape how any of us acts, especially over time.
Implications include how we address recidivism, select a job, or approach getting into shape…or change an organization. Consider how the environment of systems (organizational structure, physical layout, protocols, available skills, rewards or punishment, measurement, available information, and allocation of decision-making authority) make one set of behaviors make more sense than another. Individual orientation, values and attitudes still matter, but authoritarian systems evoke more authoritarian behavior and democratic systems more democratic behavior. Innovative organizations set up their systems to encourage innovation while non-innovative organizations elicit what they are set up to elicit—staying in line inside the box.
As we discuss in the book, think fitbit. Yes, the technology matters in and of itself, but it matters more in combination with associated systems such as measurement and feedback, support groups, and training techniques.
May you successfully change for the better the world around you at home and at work in 2020.
Keep Paddling,
Greg