What this means is that when discussing issues of change, there is always a light side and there is always a dark side and the shadows in between make up the grey areas in thought and in deed. Organisational change, for example, is not always change for the better and it is not always change for the worse. The heads and tails of this is about spending a lot of money to win a little profit and vice versa. The hope of the organisational change initiator may well be altruistic in nature. The change initiator may well have the best needs of the survival of the organisation at heart, the best needs of themselves at heart or the best needs of an unknown third-party at heart. Wherever the heart may be, the motivations of individual change players contain both rationale and emotive intentions; Intentions that can be hidden from strategic planning goals with positive and negative communication airs and graces.
Intention is not always a conscious act and despite any nice or nasty interpretations of the intentions of others, change has a habit of containing a mix of emotional qualities, depending on the relativities of the individual in question. Organisational change is very much a human “game” for without human “players” an organisation would not exist. Therefore, it’s safe to say that change, within an organisational context, is multi-faceted, given that the players all have differing views on, not only, what the term change means to them emotionally, but also what the interpretation of the proposed change means to their common sense. Yet, despite this analytical way of exploring human change, change remains two-sided. Despite the various relativities of, in this case, an organisations strategic change plan, the plan will emote a light side and a dark side once it gets beyond the communication complexities of the changing process.
Disconcerting organisational change could be as simple as accepting the light side of strategic change as promoting empowerment in those who are employed to be the changing process. At its best, empowerment might be purposeful understanding and engaged and skilful motivation. The dis-empowering dark side of organisational change also could achieve its best by promoting purposeful protective behaviours of denial, anger and loss. A most popular myth about change is that employees fear it. While, some employees may fear change, because of a tendency for doubtfulness, most employees tend to have a preference for their diagnosis of what change means to them. While fear lives in the shadows of change, it might emerge from unanswered questions about change (do I get to keep my job?) that every employee feels and don’t communicate for fear of appearing desperate, or fear of being over controlled, maybe.
Fear is not at the emergent heart of organisational change. Fear is the unchanging constant of an organisation involving people, who are there for a multitude of personal and professional reasons. Fear lives in the hearts of dependent people whether faced by change or not and this is because dependency is about survival.
The two-sided nature of change is already in the room of all organisations undergoing strategic change or not, because the constant flow of an organisation contains moods of changing behaviour every single day. This is nothing sinister. The constantly changing flow of human endeavour is a reassurance that the established fears of individuals will not change per say, during any change process, but they may increase or decrease depending on the amount of empowerment, or dis-empowerment the individual does, or does not, recognise. In this way organisational change, for the change initiator, is as fast as the working daylight, and as slow as an un-slept night, in accordance to the perceptions of its human changing process despite the communicated airs and graces of organisational group leaders.
There is no fool-proof way of overcoming the two sidedness of any change, organisational or otherwise, because its’ undoing is honesty and the truth of honesty lies within the moral and ethical values of every beholder. Simply put, intrinsic honesty is the truth of all individuals in a changing process and extrinsic fact is the truth of any organisation in terms of its balance sheet.
Trust is the only power tool that can gain the change empowerment leader the honesty of the individual. How that honesty is handled and by whom is again about trust. The integrity of trust is such that, should it achieve unconditional status, the change processing individuals will feel empowered by the strategic change plan and, as empowerment fuels the way, change will happen. However, trust does not change the fact that change is two-sided, even if it does soften it with a god like belief. This is because expectations differ between visionaries, realists and doers, and outcomes always reflect the doing part, of any change plan. You can make as many change plans as you like, but without the doer, they’re history. The very best that change plan can achieve, is the agreement. If that agreement is for a heads up, no matter how much the coin may twist and turn during the changing process, the outcome recorded will say Agree or Disagree. It can be argued that the outcome of any probability lies in the amount of probabilities present in a case. In this case, the sample space of the organisational change being considered probably also contains you. In organisational change, the doing variables within you, and you, and you, makes all of the difference to whether the strategic change will achieve its desired sample point. A single unit of change in the air is also not alone because, the bigger the organisation, the more change probability players there are. In an ideal world, the results of all change agreements would be recorded, but in the business world, who has the time? What do you think time, honesty and trust mean? Your response makes all the difference.
In any change situation there is always the change agent and the changee. They may be one and the same when considering individual philosophies of self-help and they may be extrinsic when considering individual interpretations of the change philosophies of others. In the case of organisational change, the change agent is always the individual who has their own best interests at heart and this includes everyone in the organisation. Everyone employed to be the changing process, is the change agent whether this is recognised or not. The hierarchy of the change agents arise from the amount of legal and political clout the change agent has in telling other people, not only what to do but, how to do their work. This doesn't mean the individual has the trust of those under their command. This doesn't mean that the individual agrees with the change initiator or any strategic change plan.
In employment law, change is the relationship and this does not mean continued employment (the light side), it can mean dis-continued employment (the dark side). However, there is always a righteous moral, if not an ethical unspoken law in place, when considering humanity. In a first world democratic economy, this generally means that organisational change should reflect the lighter of the two sides of the change coin, irrespective of whether this side is heads or tails. While the light may freely apply in matters of the heart, whether or not it applies in organisational policies and protocols, very much depends on who is leading the way. Some people might consider an exploration of the light and dark aspects of a change proposal to be a good strategy and call it cooperative work spaces or community consultation. Others might consider probability and outcome to represent the need for more change from multi-cultural resources and call this diversification or innovative business practices. Irrespective of what ideas organisational change may challenge employees with, the outcome is generally a two-sided balance sheet of more change vs. less change = change. Either way, both sides win should the outcome match the players agreement. When there is no agreement, change is anyone’s guess.
In organisational change, where two heads are usually greater than one and too many cooks just might spoil that broth, change is a prediction act between one side you win and the other side you lose, depending on individual belief in organisational change and individual trust in the change tosser, who might or might not be you. There is no win/win at the end of the day should the outcome be all about money. Irrespective of philosophical explorations about the meaning of organisational change outside of money, just know that change is two-sided and those sides are as distinct from each-other as the back of your head is from your face. The questions now, while change spins in the air, are how much influence you have over an organisations change decision, change agreement, changing process and change outcome? The answers may well be that the gamble of organisational change is not about change at all, but about strengths.
© Chris Tyne, 2013.