Don’t play games with your organizational success!
Have you ever played dominos? If so – you know how long it takes to set up the pieces in whatever pattern you choose. Yet regardless of how long it took you to set up the pieces – once you push that first piece over – it takes seconds to cause a change reaction that brings everything to the ground. (Today’s Millennial’s probably have an app that does it digitally for them…)
Dominos are actually a learning lesson when it comes to business. An organization will spend months, if not years, setting up the pieces together in a pattern that yields growth. Then at one point – someone adjusts or replaces one of those pieces and that change inadvertently knocks over the other pieces – and it causes a chain reaction – the domino effect. This occurs when a small change causes another similar change nearby, which then will cause another similar change, and so on in linear sequence. It typically refers to a connected sequence of events or linkages within systems.
Organizationally, the domino effect can be caused by the replacement or addition of new technology; it could be a merger or acquisition, or downsizing of the organization. Regardless – the catalyst that sets the dominos in motion is some type of change – businesses need to navigate these changes carefully and be sure the changes, or the people making the changes, aren’t like a bull in a china shop.
“Everything affects everything else in one way or another. Whether you are aware of that or not does not change the fact that this is what is happening. That’s why I say a business is a system. This systems perspective reminds us that this is what is going on. And when you see it this way, you can manage your business better. You appreciate, for example, that any action will reverberate throughout the entire company. This causes you to pay more attention to what you do, and learn the right lessons from your experience.” – John Woods
Unfortunately, that’s not how most businesses approach changes – with a systemic focus – most actually don’t take into consideration all the interconnected parts of the organization that could set the domino effect into motion, impacting the success of the change, productivity and profitability.
Want to make sure your company doesn’t go through the domino effect?
Follow these simple steps:
- Plan for Change: Don’t forget organizations are interconnected systems. Change in one area has a direct impact on other areas. Learn how to successfully plan for change, implement, communicate, and create employee involvement and commitment, and measurement systems during change. Remain flexible and open to adapting the structures and processes as needed.
- Develop a Strategy: Have a developed and detailed change strategy, including a clear mission and a defined vision statement. The change strategy should help determine why you are taking on the change, where you want to go, and how to chart the course to help you get there. Does it answer organizational imperatives? Can leadership clearly communicate the strategy? Do employees understand why the changes are happening and how and where they fit into making them successful?
- Engage your People: Organizations can’t exist without people. People make the difference in every business. To achieve success through people, you must recruit, engage and retain the right people for your culture. Build a highly engaged and committed workforce. It is people who determine the organization’s progress and steer its direction. It is the people and their capabilities, individually and collectively, that ultimately determine if changes are successful. Always put your people first – both daily and during times of change. Challenge them, engage them, and support them. Provide for your people and they will provide for you.
“General Systems Theory … says that each variable in any system interacts with the other variables so thoroughly that cause and effect cannot be separated. A simple variable can be both cause and effect. Reality will not be still. And it cannot be taken apart! You cannot understand a cell, a rat, a brain structure, a family, a culture if you isolate it from its context. Relationship is everything.” – Marilyn Ferguson
So, organizations are interconnected systems. Changes in on area have a direct impact on changes in other areas. Even though the pieces to your business aren’t actually dominoes – you should treat them as such.
Because once the dominoes start to fall – it takes a long time to set them back up.
About Scott Span, MSOD: is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions – an Organizational Improvement & Strategy firm. He helps clients in achieving success through people, creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable. Organizations where people enjoy working and customers enjoy doing business.
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