If you were wondering about the last couple of words of the new book’s title Agendashift: clean conversations, coherent collaboration, continuous transformation, here’s your explanation.
This picture sums up the challenge:
- Yes, continuous improvement (in its many forms) is respectful – respectful (generally speaking) of people, respectful of current state, respectful of how you got there.
- Yes, transformation initiatives do generally have a sense of ambition. Goals, rationale, sponsorship, and so on.
And the questionable:
- Continuous improvement may be guided by some sense of direction, but often that’s more about the comfort of those inside the system than it is about purpose. The lack of meaningful goals means that few are motivated to overcome serious organisational challenges.
- Too often, transformation initiatives are about imposing someone else’s vision on the people who know how things actually work. Too much is invested in overcoming resistance to change, not enough in engaging people in an open process.
- If the organisational design doesn’t support it, continuous improvement quickly runs out of steam. Almost by definition – and certainly by the textbook definition of project – most initiatives are set up to exist for only a limited time. Either way, sustainability is an ever-present challenge.
What if we could combine the best of both – respect and appropriate ambition – and at the same time confront the sustainability problem? This is what I am looking for in continuous transformation. I would define this as transformation that is:
- Respectful of present and past, the current context and the open-ended journey
- Appropriately ambitious for the future – – not grandiose, but with goals more ambitious than typically implied by continuous improvement, inspect and adapt, and the like
- Not just reactive, but proactive and anticipatory
- Happening all the time because – by design and by habit – the organisation’s core systems now demand and sustain it
If that sounds attractive, you’ve come to the right place. Grab your preview chapter. Join our Slack community and LinkedIn group. Check out our partner programme. And come to the next Agendashift facilitator day, in Manchester on March 23rd.