Sunday, 30 October 2011

Self-perpetuating change

I was in a meeting with senior management the other day. People were airing problems and discussing solutions; the most senior manager was handing out action points like candy.

All of the problems discussed were genuine, and all of the solutions and actions proposed were rational responses. But all of the solutions and actions were those likely to fade with time. They would be successful whilst on the priority list, but would no doubt succumb to other initiatives in the future.
It strikes me that what management (and in particular senior management) should be looking for is to make change that is self-perpetuating. That will continue to change the business without their sponsorship.

What does self-perpetuating change look like? Wikipedia is probably the best current example. Wikipedia will continue to improve itself, to change the world, and to inspire other transformational projects without the sponsorship of Jimmy Wales.

What are the characteristics of self-perpetuating change? I think that at least part of it is to create something that benefits a significant number of people, creating a demand that will no go away.

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