Every organization has the seeds of what its next stage will be planted inside it already. And in every organization there is a group of people, who are holding that vision of this next stage and want to seek out what would need to change. And in every organization there is also a group of people, who for some reason or other are going to oppose the change.

How do you win the hearts and minds of people who are involved in change?

In our discussion with Dave, we get to the bottom of a number of misconceptions around organizational transformation. For one, people aren’t generally opposed to change. If you look around you at work, chances are very high that your co-workers are using smartphones and have embraced a number of new tech and software recently. What people are opposed to, is change they were not informed about and they were not asked to contribute to. People generally oppose change that is imposed on them.

Visualizing complex systems and information

For any transformation to stick, those involved need to understand first what is wrong with the current system. People are coming to work everyday wanting to do their job, not particularly fretting over what should be changed. If there are symptoms of malfunction, it’s best if management doesn’t just assume they have all the answers, but try to look at a number of possible clues to why things are not running, as they should.

According to Dave, who has a background in design, bringing together the employees from the different departments to figure out collectively what the issues are and solving them together is absolutely essential for any change process. Management first needs to explain why people should take this time, away from their jobs to spend for this effort, and then use creative, visual tools to first map out what the organization does, and see what it could do better. In our podcast Dave gives a number of very concrete examples to how this process may look like. 

The answers are already inside the company

The role of the manager or CEO is to listen to the organization, which already has the next stage of evolution already inside it, and to facilitate bringing it to the next level.

Dave Gray is the founder of XPLANE, a strategic design consultancy, and co-founder of Boardthing, a collaboration platform for distributed teams.

He is the author of two books on design, change and innovation: Gamestorming: A playbook for innovators, rule-breakers and changemakers; and The Connected Company.