The ERF committee will be bringing renewed focus to Organisational Development in 2018, in part by using this column to share insights and case studies of leaders’ experiences in making change stick in their businesses.

Organisational Development is fundamentally about improving effectiveness, which always requires change to take place.

This often include changes in systems, structures and processes, but sustained change in an organisation only sticks when the people in it change, and more so when a critical mass of people have changed.

Helping people to change is and always will be a Leadership issue, and does not happen by accident.  Change can (and does) happen anywhere in a business, but is always most sustainable if it is led from the top, and follows a cohesive plan.

Kerry Paterson et al in their book “Change Anything” (2011) put forward three spheres of influence that are helpful when planning organisational change.  The first is about the individual – people who are more willing to change simply change faster, but it is also true that leaders help by focusing on giving people the skills required to change, as well as providing them with the means to change, which could range from clear expectations of what is required to powerful but simple tools that help them change.

The second is social.  When an individual is surrounded by people who want them to change and help them do so, change is much more likely.  Also, when there is a role model to follow or a coach to learn from, change comes much faster.  In other words, when role models or coaches give time and attention to helping others change, the faster change comes.

The third is Environmental.  There must be consequences for change.  Where positive behaviours are rewarded, and negative behaviors are sanctioned, change is more likely.  Also, the physical environment – an obvious, but often overlooked way of changing human behaviours – needs to enable the desired change.  Without this, even those with the best of intentions, will find the change almost impossible

All three sources of influence must be considered in developing a cohesive plan to lead sustainable change – overlook any one of them and prospects of success diminish sharply.

Over the coming year we’ll share insights and case studies relating to the successful leverage of these ideas, in facilitating sustained change in businesses.


BY : Carey-Lyn Kurten (MILA) & Joshua Hayman (Legitimate Leadership)