February 22, 2018

Discontinuous change vs. continuous adaptation

Discontinuous change vs. continuous adaptationOne philosophy of change in organisations starts from an assumption that structures, processes and systems are largely fixed at the outset—frozen, if you like. The approach then is to unfreeze the existing set-up, change it as required, developing whatever new structures and processes are needed, and then refreeze it again.

After that, we can fine-tune what we have for efficiency and profit.

That may work. It is an approach to discontinuous change.

The trouble is though that change is probably becoming too rapid for that. We may need to be unfrozen all the time, continuously evolving and making changes.

The question becomes how to instil continuous evolution, adaptation and growth, if that’s what we need; if our normal state needs to be evolution, not stability.

Developing our adaptability is a different kind of problem from implementing a change programme. It’s much more about initiative and self-organisation and inter-connection, for example, though we need to find ways of staying efficient and profitable as we evolve.

Perhaps large change programmes should lead to continuous adaptation—with no “refreezing.”

What do you think?