Managing Mountains and Molehills

Any careful observer of big organizations could be forgiven for wondering, at least once in a while, if the sole purpose of our larger institutions is the turning of mole hills into mountains. I’m sure you’ve seen it. Some Corporate Chicken Little squawks into that business amplifier commonly known as e-mail, meetings are scheduled, resources are marshalled, campaigns are mounted, work/life balance is ritually sacrificed, and outcomes are generated which may or may not justify all the brouhaha.

One could wish this was just a big business problem, but you can see it anywhere people form into organizations and networks of a certain scale. Yeah, I’m looking at you, big media, interwebs, U.S. gubmint, most organized religion (an oxymoron given the fundamentally transcendent nature of spiritually, but I distract myself), and various other well intentioned endeavors. It would almost seem as if we gather together with the intention of making the obvious, ambiguous; the solvable, intractable; and the compelling, repugnant. Continue reading

Change Agents: A Field Spotter’s Guide

CaptureTransformation and its little brother, continuous improvement, seem to be on every leadership job description these days. Change agents are the new corporate superstars. We all seem to be looking for that masked stranger who can come in and clean up any situation before riding happily off into the sunset.

The only problem with this story line (o.k. maybe there’s more than one, but I’ll focus for now), is that real change, big or small, is rarely the work of a single individual. When we put all the accountability for change on one person, we rarely get all the change capabilities that are required to effect and sustain difference. The skills to be successful in one aspect of change may actually impede effectiveness in other aspects. Effective change requires a variety of roles, applied at the right time and in the right measure.
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