Improving International Capacity Development: Bright Spots by Jim Armstrong

$150US billion is spent annually on international aid. 25% percent of this goes to capacity development projects—most of which fall well short of their objectives. Yet, nothing is more important to a new, fragile or developing nation than developing the capacity of its government to support national well-being. Every society is complex; every government is complex. Surprisingly, well-intentioned international development aid, born in an era of infrastructure projects, continues to apply simplistic technical solutions to these wickedly complex development problems. It’s an outside-in approach that rarely succeeds, even by the development industry’s own admission. But out there, amongst the billions of dollars of failed interventions, are bright spots of success – places where capacity is harnessed. What is working so well? Drawing on research, practical experience, and stories of success, Jim Armstrong explores these emerging approaches in his new book Improving International Capacity Development: Bright Spots published by Palgrave MacMillan (May 2013) More information, including a sample chapter and order form, can be found on the book’s website.

 

Endorsements for Improving International Capacity Development: Bright Spots

‘This book is a well-documented, fascinating and insightful analysis of how to apply principles of change to the business of government and the public sector. For those in government making a contribution to society, it illuminates a way forward in creating impact for citizens served. It is a must read for all students and practitioners implementing OD in the public sector.

- Lennox Joseph, American University, USA

‘Whether you work in Government, an NGO, the private sector, or a donor agency, this book is important because it focuses on a critical gap in implementing governance improvement programs. Armstrong focuses attention on the importance of national ownership of the development agenda and provides some concrete alternatives and examples of where this has made a difference.’

– Fred Carden, RTI International, Indonesia

‘This is an extremely timely book. The author recognizes an emerging consensus that for a developing country to raise itself out of poverty – and to stay that way – it needs a capable government that is responsive to the needs of the population. With a clear and well-targeted focus on government capacity development, the author observes that ‘Building effective and accountable public institutions is arguably the core challenge for sustainable poverty reduction.”

– Peter Taylor, Think Tank Initiative, Canada

‘In this outstanding book, Jim Armstrong brings a much-needed set of theoretical and practical insights to the field of Government Capacity Development. This is an important book which should be widely read not only by governments and their advisors but also business people who wish to help enhance the future of their nations.’

– Karl Moore, McGill University, Canada

 

Review of Improving International Capacity Development: Bright Spots

The world is facing troubled and uncertain times. For too long, we have focused largely on the invisible hand of the market acting through corporations. We have relied on these institutions to help us move forward on some of the world’s most critical problems. Yet, during the Great Recession, I believe that many came to see that government has a critical role it should play, in concert with business and civil society. In this outstanding book, Jim Armstrong brings a much needed set of theoretical and practical insights to the field of international government capacity development (GCD). If there is any hope of solving the crushing poverty and civil unrest that still plague many corners of the world, the civil service and the institution of government must be strengthened. Armstrong emphasizes the importance of the civil service and, more specifically, the role that the often maligned technocrat played in the development of now-rich countries. He explains how the capacity of these stakeholders evolved over time to suit the needs of a country. However, an important issue has come to the fore in the past decade.

Can these models be successfully adopted by developing countries? GCD efforts have gone awry mainly because efforts have been made to implement a standard model for all nations and civil services. Armstrong delves into how development and assessment programmes often lack potency due to the complexity of the issues they face when combined with the adoption of a stale approach. For a long time, external government agencies and other institutions have treated these problems from the outside-in, electing for a top-down approach that has yielded little success. Part of the problem with this approach lies in its underlying ideology. The author compares the positivist view of knowledge with that of the constructivist. Although the positivist approach can have some success, he convincingly asserts that constructivist methods are much more in line with the complex problems of capacity development. The positivist approach tries to strip away context and freeze a problem in time so it can be analysed and addressed. Social constructivism rightly observes that in a social system there is no universal solution and that context will inevitably shape the solution. In the end, the author argues that social constructivism is better suited to tackle capacity development and the governance of public institutions. He also states, however, that there definitely is, and must be, room for the positivist approach within many projects, and attempting to approach these problems from only one perspective is folly.

Armstrong then examines a real-life case study of the Trinidad and Tobago programme called Ministerial Performance Management Framework, introduced to initiate and sustain a culture of performance transformation. This case forms the foundation for analysis in the remainder of the book. The historical survey of the case examines failed attempts at revitalizing the civil service and finally examines how, with a renewed focus on performance management through capacity building, the country was and is making real strides towards its goal. Yet, progress is subject to the effects of political shifts and personal and partisan interests.

In order to tackle the wicked problems of GCD, the author argues for a non-linear process and outlines distinctive strategies for dealing with wicked problems – the system working with an external facilitator but also harnessing the knowledge and purpose lying within the system itself. He emphasizes the importance of developing a system that can handle a changing environment and one that welcomes the opportunity to learn from failed projects, instead of simply dismissing them or not allowing riskier projects at all. Capacity development needs experimentation and adaption.

The author goes in depth into the many rounds of development the Trinidad and Tobago project underwent to examine the co-diagnostic process of capacity development projects, along with co-learning, co-acting, and co-evaluating. Each of these four aspects emerges from the author’s extensive research into and analysis of surprising successes or bright spots in international GCD. After clearly explaining each of the four aspects, the author presents the results of his research of the GCD in the Trinidad and Tobago central case study. The book concludes with ‘The Way Ahead’, in which the author answers his questions about improvements to GCD and discusses the challenges that are still faced when dealing with the wicked problem of improving public sector capacity.

This is an important book which should be widely read not only by governments and their advisors but also business people who wish to help enhance the future of their nations.

Karl Moore, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management,McGill University; and Associate Fellow, Green Templeton College, Oxford University

 

About the Author: James Armstrong
Jim Armstrong is President of The Governance Network™ and has been involved with major change projects with national leaders around the globe. He has a PhD in Applied Management from the University of Birmingham, UK and Master’s degrees from the University of Guelph, Canada and HEC, France and University of Oxford, UK. He is a member of the ChangeLeaders. Contact Jim at [email protected]


The Change Leaders new eyes book

'New Eyes' — Now Available in eBook

Our book, New Eyes: The Human Side of Change Leadership, which was published in September 2013 is now available in eBooks version.

Because we are functionning as a non profit and looking forward to share knowledge with many change practitionners, the price of this electronic version came down to nearly a third of the paperback price.

You can source it from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr, Kobo and other book selling sites.

 

WONDERING ABOUT THE CONTENT OF THE BOOK?
Here is a summary, by Mick Yates:

The book includes eight practical ways to simplify complexity, handle turbulence, use Big Data and improve results in change and business transformation.

  • Have two effective tools for better trust and integrity in organisations
  • Identify your change leadership communications style – wolf, parrot, spider or koala?
  • Use performance metrics to drive transformation globally
  • See a pathway to explore new organisational structures
  • Be able to lead integrating big data, customer centricity and innovation
  • Discover how to begin unlocking lock-in in your mind
  • Improve value created from projects at Board Level
  • Know when to apply innovative approaches to complex human change

 

“New Eyes offers leading edge thinking about leadership and change. the ideas are fresh, challenging and grounded in reality. It also honors how difficult culture change is, how it requires something more than tools and training. It is about an act of faith much more profound than solving a problem or meeting the expectations of a market”.
Peter Block, author Stewardship, Freedom and accountability at Work, and Community: The Structure of Belonging

 

Margareta Barchan and Jeanne Westervelt Rice suggest two approaches they have found effective in influencing organisational and personal values. They suggest thoughtful practices in the work place, namely guided dialogues and reflective writing. They also address the inadequacy of Codes of Conduct in promoting ethical behaviour.

Susan Goldsworthy takes a fresh look at the power of communications and its effective use by leaders. She enlists social psychology and motivational theory to offer suggestions for more effective approaches. Are you a wolf, parrot, spider or koala in how you lead and communicate change?

Silke GrotegutAnja Reitz, and Wulf Schönberg consider the organisation of the future. They call it Organisation 3.0. They point to multi-generational sharing of work processes, the increasing role of personal values, longer and healthier life spans, the ubiquity of work, the growing impact of social media, and employee empowerment.

Martin Thomas addresses long term sustainable business performance. Using scenarios, he projects out to 2050 to look back on what leading organisations would do today. Thomas proposes to use Purposeful Self-Renewing Organisations as a construct for a re-assessment of performance measurement systems in corporate governance.

Mick Yates considers Big Data and its broad impact in our lives, and the need for “Big Data Leaders”. Yates discusses how the value of Big Data can be realised, notably by embracing customer centricity and creating innovation networks. He also introduces a pragmatic leadership framework for enabling organisational change and performance.

John O’Loan sees that digital technology is not only changing the exterior nature of reality but also our interior landscape, our brains and minds. In an age of hypertext and cut-and-paste, we process information differently and hence think differently. O’Loan brings to bear the work of Walter Ong, Dan Tapscott, and particularly Jason Lanier.

Joanne Flinn and Alexander Budzier look at two key entities in the changing world of work: Boards of Directors and project teams. The former wield significant power over policy and execution. Project teams form the means for which work actually gets done. Flinn and Budzier explore the nature of risk and how it can be misperceived.

Jane Lewis and Roberto Saco tackle one of the most surprising and unusual change management movements of the past 15 years, Positive Deviance, also called the Bright Spots approach to change. They delve into the nitty-gritty of work in the field, and address the wider aspects of fit within the landscape of change management methods.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cécile Demailly consults on strategy, disruptive change and early adoption within large companies. She brings corporate knowledge and change management expertise together with a research practice centered on new and future trends. Her current focus includes CSR, Enterprise 2.0 and neuropsychology applied to the corporate world. Prior to creating her consulting practice Early Strategies, she worked for 20 years in executive and management roles in IBM, AT&T and GE. Cécile is a former VP and current member of the federation European Professional Women’s Network. She is a visiting lecturer at HEC business school. She co-authored the book “Networking, the new Adriana’s Thread” in 2009 and has published several white papers, including “The Business Impact of Social Networking” in 2008. She is curently Chairperson of the Change Leaders.


The Change Leaders Oxford SPREAD Talks 2013

Oxford SPREAD Talks 2013 : Exploding Organizations

“Spread the word” has different meanings depending on the person, group, organization, or cause. For the Change Leaders, SPREAD is a platform for addressing change.

The Change Leaders where founded ten years ago as a community of change practitioners with a three-fold purpose: support change work with clients, networking and continuous learning inside the community. We have held tight to those pillars as our community continues to grow.

But we are an adaptable bunch. Two years ago we decided to amend our learning from just “taking it in” to “spreading it out.” We invented SPREAD as our way to adapt.

SPREAD is a both a platform for our members to share their insights with change and a structured challenge to deliver their experience inside specific constraints. Each presenter is given twelve minutes to tell his or her story. We encourage them to use Art Kleiner’s (editor of Strategy & Business magazine and a tCL contributor) six-step procedure for writing or telling a story because we believe it to be a smart outline for anyone who wants their story to be heard or their writing to be read.

The last challenge for presenters is finding their edge. The edge is that place where they dare themselves more than is comfortable. The edge is usually a mix of personal risk and a public declaration of a point of view on change. Being and doing both of these acts leaves a person open to challenge from other people. It’s not a warm and comfortable place to stand for twelve minutes.

What we have learned from SPREAD in two years is that the Change Leaders as a community of practice, possesses deep understanding of the hard work of change on the ground in organizations. We are not academics though many great thinkers at Oxford and HEC have influenced us. We are a community of change agents working to help client organizations execute change projects. We believe we bring a unique blend of strong and continuous learning born from our common education background and our work experience. We also believe we are responsible to share our experience with the wider world. We use SPREAD to get those messages out.

We invite you to watch the SPREAD videos and learn from our presenters. Their stories are tales from the swamp of organizational change. These are practitioners who in the words of Donald Schon “…. work on the problems ill formed, vague and messy.”

But then these are also the problems of greatest concern to the world.

Rick Torseth, SPREAD Talks iniative
February 1st, 2014

Sharon Wood – Xi Jinping and A New China

Sharon Wood tells us the story about Xi Jinping, China’s new president, who has been audacious enough to raise the hopes of his people promising them a better life. He promises change, in his words “to kill the tigers and swat the flies”, and to bring fairness and transparency to a country riddled with corruption, […]

Mason de Chochor – Swiss Private Banking Falls Down

Switzerland has set the standard for reliability, predictability and stability for hundreds of years. It is a global banking center for these reasons. The banking sector has underwritten the brand we recognize as Swiss quality and security for years. Mason de Chochor, himself a Swiss banker, describes how all that changed in 2008 with the arrival of the global financial collapse. He suggests that Swiss private banking is facing extinction, a loss of trust, a fall from grace and a broken business model. How will it all work out?

Tom Miller – Symbols as Human Connectors

Symbols are inherently human and have been used throughout history to tell stories, create meaning and build communities of people. Tom Miller helps us understand how symbols enable organizations to harness the power that exist within its history and culture. Organizational symbols, well crafted and communicated, become powerful tools in the effort to build an attractive organizational culture. The wise use of symbols enables people to connect to the heart and purpose of the enterprise.

Martin Thomas – Beyond the Midas Touch

Martin Thomas uses a classic story, adds a different perspective and in so doing, provokes us to use “new eyes” to think about the future of our planet. Thinking deeply about our real aims in life has been an eternal theme. But we should all be careful about what we wish for. Today it is a necessity to see ourselves, our role in the world and the world itself from a longer perspective if our world is to survive. We need to question our collective aims and turn thought into action. “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”

Cécile Demailly – The Mathematics of Change

Numbers, ROI and projections run today’s businesses. Change is something we would like to master, especially when it is expected to happen in an organization. It would be helpful to have equations and be able to predict the speed, velocity, and acceleration of a transformation and to extrapolate the challenges. But is it possible? And how can mathematics help with disruption and uncertainty, the driving forces behind modern change? Cecile Demailly challenges us to consider the potential that mathematics has for thinking and executing change at scale. 2+2 is not always 4.


Complexity Unravelled – The Power of Collaboration in Successful Change Leadership

Published in April 2015

SUMMARY:

Complexity Unravelled examines how change agents in different regions of the world initiate change within the public, private and voluntary sectors. The chapters illustrate different types of change interventions and challenge mainstream approaches to strategic implementation and turnaround efforts. A uniting perspective is the on-going reflections of the change agents and their practice in relation to evaluating and continually improving their style, methods and tools. What can you learn from these personal journeys?

  • A comfortable and safe environment for open communication and information sharing
  • A straight line is not always the shortest route
  • Find drivers for change in the most unlikely places
  • Achieve collective action and a common identity in a disparate environment
  • Temper a target-oriented approach with inclusive methods to achieve greater success
  • Dare to enable bottom-up change leadership
  • Raise our inner consciousness to become better change leaders

The foreword is by Professor Sue Dopson. Each chapter is illustrated by Chris Shipton of graphical recording fame. The seven chapters are written by Lisa Francis-Jennings and Rick Wolfe; Mark Clark; Lars Thuesen and Mark Munger; Philip Willatt and Mary Akimoto; Hanne Dorthe Sørensen and Flemming Bentzen; Thora Lou Haavik and Bent Andersen; and Mason de Chochor.

 

ENDORSEMENTS:
In the twenty-first century we need to think differently about change and Complexity Unravelled is a thought provoking collection of successful change insights from diverse settings. The Change Leaders have captured personal, proven practices to address complex, challenging change. While the setting may be different, change is fundamentally about human beings and thus the value of this book is in what you can learn and apply to the human change challenges you are facing.
Donna Brighton, President of the Board of Directors, Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP)

With the sharing of seven courageously honest stories, this book unravels what it takes to be change agents in a complex world. These change facilitators’ experiences and hard won wisdom shine a guiding light in our turbulent and often chaotic endeavours, by telling us to find the real change agents far from the usual suspects, tempering our eagerness by going slow to go fast, above all to promote change by not engaging in behaviour and social change. Their compelling and humbling stories speak of respect, trust and relationship building for collective action as the most endearing and lasting values to emulate in leaders. A must-read for any change agent.
Monique Sternin, Adjunct Associate Professor, Positive Deviance Initiative, Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy, Tufts University, Boston

The Change Leaders is a unique group of creative and reflective change agents, from a great diversity of countries and social contexts. This book is a good illustration of who they are. It is worth reading by any practitioner of change; beneath the amazing diversity of change cases they deal with, one can see the common ground of their practice: focused on human beings, complexity friendly. Welcome to the 21st century!
Denis Bourgeois, Emeritus Professor, HEC Paris

The book is a wonderful resource for leaders embarking on change efforts and a tribute to the alumni network that has provided the supportive context for such a contribution.
Professor Sue Dopson, Rhodes Trust Professor of Organisational Behaviour, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

A very insightful collection of essays and a must-read for change practitioners. In the true spirit of the HEC-Oxford Consulting and Coaching for Change programme, it successfully marries theoretical reflection, rich practice and most of all, personal voice. Enjoyable all through.
Elie Matta, Associate Professor in Management, HEC Paris

These stories come from people catalyzing real change in settings that range from business schools to refugee camps. They describe their efforts, setbacks and modest but significant triumphs as sculptors of human experience.
Art Kleiner, editor-in-chief, strategy+business; author, The Age of Heretics.

 

THE AUTHORS:
Mary Akimoto (co-author to Philip Willatt) is an independent Organisational Development consultant who has advised London Business School on a number of key initiatives over the past decade. She has spent most of her career leading change, as a senior management team member and as a management consultant. This experience has been instrumental in providing insight to client firms in the private and public sector, especially with regard to winning hearts and minds while maintaining a strategic focus.

Bent Andersen (co-author to Thora Lou Haavik) is a senior consultant at AFF at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) and holds an MSc. in Business Administration from NHH, in addition to a University degree in Organisation Theory and Public Administration from the University of Bergen. He has broad experience in major change projects and considerable leadership experience. Currently Bent is working as project manager for organisation and leadership development programs, strategy, mentoring, and leader group development.

Mark Clark (CCC cohort 9) is passionate about change; in individuals, communities, and organisations. As CEO of Generations For Peace, an international non-profit dedicated to conflict transformation in communities, supporting volunteers in 50 countries, his role combines these three elements, guiding organisational development to support behaviour change and conflict transformation in diverse contexts of conflict and violence.

Mason de Chochor (CCC cohort 9) has over 30 years of managerial experience, coaching and leading corporate teams, mainly in the financial industry. His yoga training, teaching and practice have been central to all of his activities. He continues to teach Kundalini Yoga and Yoga Nidra. His coaching assignments draw from Energy Management techniques, focusing on Mindfulness and Meditative Awareness.

Lisa Francis-Jennings (CCC cohort 3) (MSc.) is the co-founder and Managing Director of StratAffect S.A., which specialises in helping clients realise opportunities from high-impact strategic interventions. Lisa uses a unique combination of facilitated processes to help align organisational focus. Her ability to recognise the essential qualities of a situation and to connect disparate elements, helps her clients design creative business solutions.

Thora Lou Haavik (CCC cohort 10) is a senior consultant at AFF at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH), specialised in processes of strategic change. She holds a degree in production engineering from The Technical University of Denmark, an MSc. in Consulting and Coaching for Change from HEC Paris and Oxford University, in addition to micro- and macroeconomics from Copenhagen Business School and a professional coaching certification from ITS London.

Mark Munger (co-author to Lars Thuesen) a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Universities, is a senior consultant with the Plexus Institute, Washington, D.C. USA. He is an experienced organisation consultant and educator, and has been part of the Positive Deviance movement in the US since its inception. He has used the adaptive positive deviance approach to effect behavioural and social change in hospital and health care settings, schools facing significant challenges, and urban and rural food systems. He has worked in Denmark over time for the Prison and Probation Service of the Danish Ministry of Justice, and in such varied settings as clinical trials in oncology research and treatment.

Hanne Dorthe Sørensen (CCC cohort 5) is former CEO of The Government Centre of Human Resource Development and has an Executive Masters in Coaching and Consulting for Change from HEC. She is currently an independent consultant as well as being associate professor of the Copenhagen Business School. She has recently launched a book on new welfare leadership and is specialised in training and coaching public leaders in new metal models of leadership and action learning.

Flemming Bentzen (co-author to Hanne Dorthe Sørensen) is former Head of Unit at The National Board of Industrial Injuries in Denmark and has a Masters of Management Development from Copenhagen Business School. He is currently Head of Unit in the Danish Working Environment Agency.

Lars Thuesen (CCC cohort 4) is a change leader, who has 20 years’ experience as a leader and senior civil servant, facilitator and consultant in the public sector. Most recently he held the position as head of innovation in the Danish Ministry of Justice, Department of Prison and Probation. In 2014, Lars founded WIN – the Welfare Improvement Network, where he works as a change leader and consultant. Lars is deeply passionate about solving some of the most pressing social challenges in our welfare societies. His work focusses on how to create sustainable solutions in the communities where he facilitates change processes, combining different approaches to obtain the best possible impact. He has an MSc. in Political Science and an MSc. in Coaching and Consulting for Change from HEC, where he also trains executive students in the Positive Deviance methodology.

Philip Willatt (CCC cohort 9) is the former Director, Human Resources at London Business School, where he completed 13 very full years. He has three main areas of focus: designing a new approach to human resource management for the School, embedding the outcomes of the Vision and Values project, and initiating an institutional approach to change. Prior to London Business School, he held a similar position at the University of Sussex, and before that he worked for the BBC in a variety of roles.

Rick Wolfe (co-author to Lisa Francis-Jennings) is the Founder and Owner of Post Stone; a boutique consulting firm providing customer-facing business development methodologies and tools for organisations of all sizes. Rick’s services are designed to deliver rapid strategic insight into customer relationships and deliver immediate business development opportunities and performance improvements. Whether looking for new customer insight or to confirm strategic direction, Rick’s methods produce quick and effective solutions.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
Like many of these kinds of endeavours, this was very much of a journey. It included its fair share of creativity, discussion, agreement, disagreement, collaboration, dedication and flexibility. Above all, its leitmotiv was trust. For that, our kind acknowledgements to all involved.

More specifically, thanks to the Change Leaders and its Board who trusted us completely in the process. Back in September 2014, the first Change Leaders’ Book was produced, thanks to the then Book Team led by Joanne Flinn. Without that book, this one probably would not have seen the light of day.

The previous book team was a great help in the first uncertain days of this new project, especially Dan Ballbach and Mike Staresinic, as well as Julia Beck, Mason de Chochor, Cécile Demailly, Elizabeth Howard, Hugh McDermott and Dorthe Sørensen, who were also involved in the creative discussion around the focus and approach to this book. I have to mention Art Kleiner, whose workshop at Oxford in September 2011 ‘Introduction to Thought Leadership’ provided us with the writing template for the chapters.

Mason de Chochor, Patricia Cichocki, Lisa Francis-Jennings, Dirk Glienke, Susan Goldsworthy, Hugh McDermott generously volunteered to partake in the editing process, to guide the authors during their initial writing stage.

The book would be a rather thin affair without the authors – Lisa Francis-Jennings, Rick Wolfe, Mark Clark, Lars Thuesen, Mark Munger, Philip Willatt, Mary Akimoto, Hanne Dorthe Sørensen, Flemming Bentzen, Thora Lou Haavik, Bent Andersen and Mason de Chochor.

I’d like to thank our illustrious members of the faculty in Oxford and HEC, who offered to provide academic guidance and who over the years have greatly contributed to the way we approach change: Denis Bourgeois, Sue Dopson, Elizabeth Howard, Elie Matta and Rafael Ramirez. Special thanks to Professor Sue Dopson, for generously agreeing to write a foreword to this book

Heartfelt thanks to Julia Beck for her work in designing the cover, Chris Shipton for his illustrations, Julia Beck and Lisa Francis-Jennings for those long discussions around book naming, Right On the Line for the layout and Fast Print Publishing for being such a patient printer. Finally, special thanks to my ‘partner in crime’ Lisa Francis-Jennings, who was a tremendous partner in the final editing stage, when we came at it from a publisher’s perspective.

The work was often arduous, repetitive and at times frustrating. We got there in the end. All of us. Together.

Julie Mowinski – Chief Editor for “Complexity Unravelled”

 

EDITOR'S PREFACE
Change today affects all of us, every day, in all walks of life, whether we are conscious of it or not. To a large extent, this defines the issues surrounding strategic change in organisational structures. Leadership may recognise the need for organisational effectiveness and agility, but often the process of attaining it is hampered by calls for ‘quick fixes’ and ‘one-size-fits-all’ change programs, which mostly end up as botched efforts. And still, change management is big business.

This book illustrates why change is so difficult, and how thoughtful approaches to change leadership can produce the most amazing results, many of which could not have been pre-determined. This is scary stuff – after all, if we cannot define the ‘what’ and the ‘how’, where does our power reside?

Maybe we are looking for power in all the wrong places. Mark Clark’s chapter clearly demonstrates the weakness of the planned change approach in a culturally diverse environment. And culture is a hot topic these days. It has been identified as an inhibiting factor in the success of many change programs. ‘Culture kills Strategy’ is a common phrase¹ which reflects the intangible essence of humanity that, let’s face it, makes up the largest portion of any organisation.

Harnessing culture and leveraging employees’ energy to address the complexities of building sustainable change is illustrated in Dorthe Sørensen and Flemming Bentzen’s chapter. Philip Willatt and Mary Akimoto’s account of bridging various cultural groups within an educational establishment describes the challenge of addressing departmental identity differentiation while elements within the industry are converging. The authors provide an excellent example of highly customised engagement practices, which address issues faced by many professional service organizations today.

Thora Haavik and Bent Andersen’s description of merging two organisational mind-sets shows how creating trust and building upon successes can set a new culture in motion. Go one step further and you find yourself in Lars Thuesen and Mark Munder’s violent world of prison life, where discovering the ‘outliers’ and focusing on respect and positive relationships are major drivers of change. If the basic elements of decent humanity can be harnessed in such an extreme environment, surely this is a clear indication of where change leadership is headed.

Shifting to a more personal perspective, Mason de Chochor takes us on a journey within ourselves, to discover our own humanity, as a pre-requisite for this new direction. And Lisa Francis-Jennings and Rick Wolfe provide us with a template for how we can exteriorise all this, and collaborate in a safe environment.

We hope you enjoying reading this. More than this, we hope it changes the way you think about change. Join in our conversation at www.thechangeleaders.com .

Julie Mowinski & Lisa Francis-Jennings

¹ Merchant, N. (2011) ‘Culture Trumps Strategy, Every Time’, Harvard Business Review, (online) https://hbr.org/2011/03/culture-trumps-strategy-every

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Mowinski
Julie Mowinski is a communications professional, with broad global experience in the Information Technology sector – hardware, software, services and telecommunications. She has held roles in marketing, communications, and general management for companies in a number of different countries including Cisco, Software AG, Berg Electronics and Holland House. She has also been involved in acquisition negotiation, transformation, employee development, mentoring and inclusion & diversity. Having recently completed a Master’s degree in Consulting and Coaching for Change from the HEC business school in collaboration with the Saïd Business School at Oxford University, she is currently examining how to help companies capitalise on communication to drive successful change.