Organisational Change Management Volume 2

Some Comments on the Process of Developing a Purpose for Change

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How to weave a change into a well-established organisations and DNA of its workforce is very challenging.

", even when everyone agrees in broad terms on what needs to change, someone still needs to work out a plan to implement change in a lasting way. To put this in terms of a cognitive perspective, a leader must proceed with her own internal representations of both the present and of the desired (new) state of affairs to some kind of a public presentation that catches this vision. Moreover, each member of the leadership team will likely have his own mental representation, and each will likewise utilize modes of expression that are comfortable. The team must hammer out an acceptable consensual representation. The leadership team then needs to communicate this representation widely - preferably in a number of discrete yet comparable forms - and test whether it can gain support. In terms, a leader must first find the content of the message she wishes to convey and then find the formats that convey that message well enough to create meaningful and lasting changes in mind - first in the leadership team, eventually throughout the one of these moves is likely to change the minds of most employees. But if the company leadership approaches the problem in a number of different ways, and if these methods work well together, then mind change becomes a distinct possibility..."

Howard Gardner, 2006

"...everyone has a purpose. A reason for being. It motivates, informs action and creates satisfaction......It's easy if the customers, employees and partners engage with a business that stands for something, and can articulate why they exist, not just what they do......and how they do it. People want to know what a company stands for - its purpose..."

Joe Barr (chief executive, John Holland, an Australian-based infrastructure and property business) as quoted by Patrick Durkin 2018

It needs to be more

"...useless top up of corporate mumbo-jumbo, and there is little evidence that investors care two hoots about having a purpose. But one advantage is that it could help companies to embrace change...

Sally Patten 2018

"...without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential. It will ultimately lose a licence to operate from key stakeholders..."

Laryy Fink (CEO, BlackRock) as quoted by Patrick Durkin 2018

A clear purpose is reflected in a company's values, culture and behaviours - beyond simple profit-making. It is a way to improve trust in the corporate world.

An example of linking purpose, values, strategy, etc

BHP Billiton (leading global resources company) has a charter that describes its purpose, values and how they measure success. It is a basis for communicating who they are, what they do, and what they stand for as an organisation; it is the basis for their decision-making.

Purpose: to create long-term shareholder value through the discovery, acquisition, development and marketing of natural resources.

Its strategy is to own and operate large, long-life, low-cost, expandable, upstream assets diversified by commodity, geography and market

Its values are

- sustainability (putting health and safety first, being environmentally responsible and supporting our communities)
- integrity (doing what is right and doing what we say we will do)
- respect (embracing openness, trust, teamwork, diversity and relationships that are mutually beneficial)
- performance (achieving superior business results by stretching our capabilities)
- simplicity (focusing our efforts on things that matter most)
- accountability (defining and accepting responsibility and delivering on our commitments)

"...Success occurs when our people start each day with a sense of purpose and end the day with a sense of accomplishment..."
BHP Billiton as quoted by Tony Boyd 2016b

Also BHP Billiton needed to be different in the way it inspired people and operated, ie leaner, more agile and more entrepreneurial.

This charter was the first time a global mining company had put equal importance on serving the shareholders, customers, employees and communities in which it operated.  It recognised that its social licence to operate was reliant on communities valuing the relationship with the company.

NB this increased the focus on safety, environment and communities.

Another example of starting with visioning to develop strategies, etc is for the Pacific Salmon in the massive Skeena River watershed, Northern British Columbia.

The background to this watershed is basically no one was satisfied with the status quo and these other factors

- a long history of sustainable Aboriginal fisheries before Europeans arrived
- many different types of fishing stakeholders (commercial, recreational, etc) wanting a share of the resource
- different and conflicting approaches by various government agencies (including a science-based management policy which was not implemented)
- declining salmon numbers
- environmental groups becoming more active

By developing a shared vision, the different parties could see what they had in common and this encouraged a more collaborative approach.

Setting a vision for change: Skeena Watershed example


conventional contested mixed stock fishery
community-based ecosystem management under wild salmon policy
external perception
maximise commercial harvest with minimal conflict with other interests and ecosystems long-term fish and ecosystem resilience and sustainability with appropriate harvest levels
top-down control with few official and many informal influence channels multiple stakeholder consensus + science in the best interest of long-term sustainability
use of science
modest, non-peer reviewed abundance model and a few monitoring points; not consistent with wild salmon policy complete map of conservation units/sub stocks, destinations and timing, including real-time monitoring at many points and genetic data
unpredictable, potentially dangerous, commercially  system. First nations and others feel they come second; uncontrolled expansion of some recreational segments some form of shared system with First Nations first; recreational fishing equitable with commercial fishing
highly tenuous, barely covers commercial variable cost, food fishery comes up short viable commercial, first nations and recreational fishery operators
low-value commodity product high-value, locally produced branded commercial products
gear & capture point
mostly marginally selected locations; timing & gear; capture mostly at sea or estuary optimally located, selectivity and lower cost optimised
modest more comprehensive
"fight to get mine now" collaborative effort to ensure long-term sustainability of resources with fair allocation of surplus

(source: Charles Conn et al 2018)


"...The map is based on a logic tree disaggregation of the big levers for change in the watershed, but it shows the different supporting actions and policies and institutions that were critical to drive change..."
Charles Conn et al 2018

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