Blind Spot #4 – Not Invented Here—Change It!!

Many leaders have a built in bias for changing everything and everyone their predecessor put in place. This is especially true in the case of mergers and acquisitions. The acquiring organization usually discontinues or replaces existing talent and infrastructure with a vengeance. However, organizations have a limited capacity for change. In addition, as described brilliantly in Chip and Dan Heath’s book “Switch,” one of the fundamental principles of successful change leadership is to “find the bright spots.” In their words, spend less time “problem solving” and more time “bright-spot evangelizing.”

Strong and successful cultures such as GE and CISCO embed a set of leadership assumptions and behaviors in their leaders that work well within their organization. However, when these leaders try to bring wholesale changes such as Six Sigma, check listed M&A integration approaches and talent management processes into new organizations without the underlying culture and support, the results are usually less than successful. Often these leaders do not take the time to walk softly, to listen intently and to recognize and leverage existing bright spots in their new organizations. They operate from a mindset that tells them to exhibit true change-leadership they must be seen as the creator and implementer of a complete organizational transformation. On the other hand, real change-leaders, such as Nelson Mandela, know that in order to engage and inspire their constituencies they must recognize their needs and accomplishments and incorporate them into the final tapestry of their vision. In Mandela’s case the vision was always the “Rainbow Coalition.”

An image that describes the delicate balance of emphasizing bright spots and changing critical areas is a bumpy subway ride. The passenger straps represent the legacy bright spots that your colleagues need to hang onto in order to feel appreciated, proud of the organization and to be able to navigate the bumpy ride ( the change) in ways that they can relate and connect with.

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