Transformation Can't Be Forced, but You Can Give It a Nudge

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at markmullaly.com.

Organizational change is a big thing. Organizations spend hundreds of millions of dollars on organizational transformation efforts. Consultants specializing in how to successfully manage organizational change are legion. Methodologies, tools, workshops and resources abound, promising the guidance to make change happen smoothly and well.

The impetus for undergoing transformation varies: it can be the desire to evolve organizational culture, realize a new way of operating, implement a new enterprise-level system or manage the integration of organizations through a merger or acquisition. What is common to all of these is a current state that is deemed unacceptable, a desired target future state that is to be attained, and a journey of some form to be experienced in getting from where we are to where we are going.

There’s just one problem: You can’t force anyone to take that journey.

We like to think that organizational change is a process that can be managed. That we can plan it well, proactively anticipate resistance, develop compelling arguments and get everyone on board and enthusiastic about the new direction. In a perfect world, that’s exactly the way it would work. But the reality is that we don’t live in that world, and there is no reasonable expectation that we ever will.

The challenge here is a simple one. We think of transformation and…

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"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure."

- Mark Twain

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