‘We are change itself. We often think of our life in terms of things changing: we like some changes and we don’t like others; we want things to change in some ways and not in other ways. And of course this moment of ongoing change is our opportunity for skilful, appropriate response to the circumstances that reveal themselves, the conditions that reveal themselves at this moment. And yet we are change itself.’ Elihu Genmyo Smith
No moment of a human life is without change. We learn. We grow. We work. We live. Every breath, action and reaction in our lives is a moment of change. We are constantly interpreting our circumstances, adapting and changing to achieve our purposes and to manage ourselves through a changing world.
The thousands of small adjustments we make each day are barely noticed. Larger ones rise to our consciousness as an explicit opportunity to learn or to adapt our approach. Bigger still are obstacles that might challenge us to rethink our approach entirely or even set us back at the beginning of the change process again. Some of these we will see as frustrations but others we will approach as the test that gives energy to our purpose and our work.
If every individual is in a state of continuous transformation, the change in communities of people is a force of enormous potential.
Responsive Organisations Change
Because our traditional organisations were designed for the repeatable execution of a proven business model, we lost the natural and dynamic potential of this human change. We locked it away in processes, in policy, in hierarchy and in performance measures.
Organisations need to adapt as much if not more than people. Their existence is almost entirely driven by competition for resources, stakeholders and attention. They must deal with the scaled change and complexity of people internally and externally every day. However, our traditional model has been to ignore the mismatches as the environment changes and to stick to a fixed model until a hierarchical decision is made to make change. Organisations can drift a long way from their purpose and from effective execution before they see that need for change. The bigger the drift and the more stuck their system, the more wrenching the resulting change management is.
Responsive organisations distribute that change decision. Moving closer to the continuous adaptation of a human life, they recognise that organisations must learn, grow, work and change to continue to live and to continue to fulfil their purpose. Responsive Organisations explicitly challenge their people to focus on purpose, to learn through experimentation, and to leverage the adaptive potential of transparency and networks. Agile and adaptive change is a human exercise and a part of ensuring that our organisations remain relevant and effective in their systems.