I’m going away! (3) – A recipe for change?

Reading time: 5 minutes

Last week, I wrote that the point where ‘I’m going away’ turns into ‘we are going away’, as a metaphor for organizational change, is the recipe for a guaranteed change dynamic.

The word ‘recipe’ implies that you know what the outcome is going to be. After all, you won’t start baking a bread to end up with an apple pie. Or worse, to create something that turns out to be inedible.

Right? Yes, because let’s assume that managers and change experts are striving to achieve effective change. However, there are various recipes for achieving the desired change result. The recipe you will end up using depends partly on (sub)conscious assumptions you make. The nice thing is that these recipes can also be recognized in the TV show ‘I’m going away’.

Just think about it.

It shows couples who have made a detailed plan in advance, carefully prepare for this plan from the Netherlands, have already checked out their destination and ─once they have finally emigrated─ work to reach their goal step by step. Recipe: The change process is directed towards a goal in a controlled manner. Success is a choice.

Other couples have no plan. They are strongly guided by the dream. Outsiders do see pitfalls and hurdles: “What will you be doing there, and how? You’ve got me a little worried!”. However, the couples truly believe in their vision and, more importantly, (sub)consciously take into account the good and bad that will happen along the way. Recipe: Their change process develops gradually and on their way towards their goal they take unforeseen circumstances into account. We’ll see what happens, and everything will be alright in the end.

Change recipes

In organizational change, you have to deal with not just a couple of people that undergo change, but many different people. And with that, the number of recipes for change increases. Before you know it, the result of the change is inedible indeed.

Understanding how you and others around you perceive change is a fundamental element for managers and change experts. In all honesty though, that understanding is often lacking, especially if people are convinced of, or only familiar with, their own recipe.

There are hundreds of cookbooks, I will focus here on a compendium by Palmer & Dunford (2002) which describes six key recipes (see the table), which they call ‘images’.

The first distinction arises because you either assume that change is directed by management (controlling) or that change occurs because management facilitates opportunities (shaping). The second distinction is based on the (a priori) assumption that the change objective will be achieved as was planned, will be partially achieved as planned because there are also external influences, or that other influences are stronger than the influence of management.

What is the best recipe?

This question is very appropriate for managers and change experts who innately make assumptions that fit with a/their role as director of change. I can’t give you the answer, because:

Every recipe triggers a tasty change process.

Every recipe has advantages and disadvantages.

Every recipe has supporters and opponents.

And often, several recipes are considered during the process.

Various recipes can be identified in the show ‘I’m going away’ and these often lead to the desired result, aside from any issues with budget and time during the process. This is a little different within organizational change (‘we are going away’).

More on that in part 4 in this series of blogs.

P.S.: If you ever want to test your perspective, send me an email and I will send you a simple survey that will help you determine which recipe you favour.

Reference

Palmer & Dunford (2002). Who says change can be managed? Positions, perspectives and problematics. Strategic Change, 11(5), pp. 243-251.