Getting started with a new project is an exciting time. You have your kick off meeting – there’s a clear goal, everyone’s aligned and enthusiastiac. So decision making and delivery should be easy. Right?
Sadly, this can all fall apart when you actually get down to work. It is as if the closer you get to the objective, the more real the objections become. The executive team keeps revising the org chart. The operational team insists a comprehensive training package is needed. The HR Business Partners struggle to engage people on the planned changes.
Often strategic initiatives or organisational changes feel painful in some way. Because it means doing something differently. Or working in a different place. Or working with different people. So people do other things to take their minds off these troubling issues. But this just means they’re failing to make any meaningful progress to achieve their goal. Sometimes teams think they need extensive training for everyone to feel prepared. But training can become a substitute for making real progress.
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There seems to be a lot of activity around ‘the change’ but, in fact, no real change actually occurs. This is a kind of Fake Logic, or ‘Flogic’.
Fake Logic can be defined as:
Mental activity that is a substitute for, or a distraction from, engaging meaningfully with a challenging feeling or issue.
The trouble with Flogic is that it can seem like constructive rational thought. It seems like people are making the right connections between things and suggesting helpful solutions. But they’re not. The executive team that keeps talking about different options for an organisational change is using Flogic. This is probably because it doesn’t want to acknowledge the real dysfunctions in the team. Or perhaps they can’t address the personal implications of the decision they’re failing to make. Similarly a team which cycles through an endless programme of training is looking for external answers to internal problems, rather than addressing the real issues.
The Endurance Trap
BY JOHN WILLCOX
What you can do
So, having observed a lot of activity, without real progress, what can you do?
The first is just to notice where Flogic is being used – whether you’re in a position to address this or not. Observe what happens in discussions and meetings – you’ll soon see where distraction activity is taking place and false connections are being made.
If you’re in a position to do so, acknowledge what’s going on – “we’re spending a lot of time talking about this, but I don’t see much progress – what is it that is so hard about this change for us?”
Allow a bit of space for those involved to process the implications of what’s going on. If additional well-being support is needed, try to put this in place.
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Consensus skills workshop
Of course, this is not to say that you should press on without preparing effectively. As is often the case in organisational change, a balanced approach is essential. Spend enough time setting the conditions for effective change and make sure you move on to delivery without employing Fake Logic to put off difficult decisions.
At this point someone will always raise a concern about how this all takes time. To which our response is, ‘Yes, that’s right, it does’. But how much time is wasted in distraction activities when you don’t do this? How long will this change take? I don’t know who coined this phrase, but it sums up our approach brilliantly:
As fast as possible, as slow as necessary.
If this resonates with you, do share with colleagues you may feel will be interested. Or just talk to us to find out more.