Change of place
After taking the Christmas week off, I arrive back at work feeling like a new person. I feel I have purged the clutter of the past, unburdened myself of old expectations, and arrive ready to do new things in new ways.
I arrive, however, in a workplace that has not changed at all. I have the same assigned seat. I attend the same standing meetings in the same conference rooms. I have all the same clutter around me that I had when I left for the break. The energy brought to work seems to be dissipating quickly.
Was my personal change only an illusion? Or does spending time in different settings actually enable change in more effective ways that trying to drive personal change in the same old places?
This reminded me of the dilemma presented to me by a leading corporate innovation consultant. He would meet with executive teams in off-site locations. Over the few days of their workshops, he would see great progress with his clients, breaking from past ways of doing things and embracing new approaches to the future. However, when they returned to their offices, he noted a backslide, a return to the old ways of doing things. To solve this dilemma, his idea was to develop a deployable work setting that he could embed in each of his client's headquarters. If after their workshops they could return to a setting that actually allowed them to continue to behave and act in a collaborative, open and dynamic way, they might continue their development rather than sliding into past patterns.
This implied linkage between objectives for change at work and the change of place where work is done evokes some questions around how we plan for new dynamics at work. What are the implications on the effectiveness and authenticity of organizational and operational change initiatives if the workplace does not reflect the value shift? What is the probable durability of organizational change initiatives if the workspace does not change to support it? Is physical change an essential strategic component of any work change agenda? What are the components of physical change that can most effectively support and nurture organizational change?
What is your experience?