Once you have been on the balcony, referencing the metaphor from last week’s blog post, then it is time to start figuring out how to create an effective course of action. Ron Heiftz, Alexander Grashow, and Marty Linsky in their book, The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World (Harvard Business Press, 2009) recommends we determine the “ripeness” of problem within the organization. As they explain, “an issue is ripe when the urgency to deal with it has become generalized across the system. If only a subgroup or faction cares passionately, but most other groups in the system have other priorities on their mind, then the issue is not yet ripe. Determining ripeness is critical because a strategy of intervention to ripen an issue that is only localized is different from a strategy to deal with a ripe issue that is already generalized.”
Their writing on this subject reminds me of John Kotter’s research in the book Leading Change where he talks about the importance of creating urgency before creating action. The late William Bridges in his book, Managing Transitions also talks about this concept and the importance of selling the problem before implementing the solution. The key is to realize that complacency and status quo are real and will fight back against change or transformation unless there are enough people who understand that doing business as usual is more dangerous than doing business in a whole new way.
Therefore, Heiftz, Grashow and Linsky asks us to answer three questions in order to figure out the depth of ripeness related to change. They are as follows:
- “Is the urgency localized in one subgroup and not yet widespread across the larger system?”
- “Or, on the other hand, are people avoiding the hard work of dealing with the adaptive challenge at hand because the pain of doing so has reach too-high levels of disequilibrium?”
- “Is the prevailing momentum to treat the situation as a technical problem or as an adaptive challenge?”
This week, ponder the above three question and come up with some answers. Your answers will help you determine how to move forward in developing your strategy for the future.
Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257