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Reviewed by Grady McAllister

Change Lab International (1993), Two Greenwich Plaza, Suite 100, Greenwich, CT 06830

Reinventing the Organization  is the second film in the series The Power of Change .  Dr. Gerald Ross and Michael Kay of Change Lab International discuss how an organization can change to meet the new marketplace.

Talking about change and making it happen are two very different things. Michael Kay describes the change this way:

Companies that have really changed--as opposed to those who merely say they have--have one thing in common: Everyone from the CEO down to the mailroom has reinvented their job and committed to a clear strategy for serving the customer.

However, many companies want to enter the land of change without changing their mode of travel.  According to Gerald Ross, in many cases when companies introduce quality, for example, they won't change the accounting system or they won't change the compensation system or the other supporting systems. As the result, the change peters out because it's a new idea applied to an old system.

Kay says, "They are taking out defects that nobody cares about from products that nobody wants to buy." They should be linking the quality issue directly to the customer. In larger organizations, people work in separate  functions such as sales or research and development. They focus on their own part of the company. Ross says that tends to push people apart:

In a situation like that, they can not rationally discuss the business.

Also, different functions may feel "some deep-seated anxiety" and "long-held animosity" toward each other. Kay says the key is to move outside  the problem. This means "to plant a flag outside the organization that everyone can rally around."  Ross adds: "It's much easier to have people align themselves around a flag that is outside the system." For a company, the most effective flag is the customer.

Organizations often try to do too much too fast.  To employees, it looks like just another program or fad of-the- month. Ross says:

The senior management team goes off on one-week retreats to rethink the business. The person on the shop floor is lucky if they get a one-hour video on quality or whatever the topic is. And then we wonder why the organization hasn't transformed itself. You need to allow the same amount of time to everyone to rethink his or her job. This puts everyone's purpose into alignment.  Instead of compliance, there is enrollment in a shared vision.

By keeping people involved, says Ross, you can "embrace the tiger of resistance." Kay concludes the video with this rhetorical challenge for leaders:

Are they going to continue to commend dependence or are they going to become leaders of free people?

A review of Part 1 in this series is also available on this web site.

The Vasthead is the professional web site of
Grady McAllister of Houston, Texas.

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