In the shed outside, we have a large pile of flattened boxes. Beside it stands a tall box full of paper. And beside it, another box, this one full of bubble wrap. We add to the piles and boxes daily. Moving from one house to the next requires packaging. The packaging makes the shipping easier. In addition, it helps protects our stuff, some of it fragile, while we move. However, now that we are here, it can be recycled or reused by another family.
As organisations change and shift into new operating models, we bring things with us. We have ‘transition’ phases as we shift from one way of operating to another. Often, it is in the transition phase where we bring things with us. And, like moving, we ‘package’ them to keep them safe or protect them. This could be a process, a structure, a behaviour, or even a product or system. The idea is this is temporary, something to help us transition.
And then it happens. All of us who have moved knows this. There’s that box or perhaps even boxes that sits in the corner unopened. It’s there months, perhaps even years, after we moved. We’ll get to it someday. And that someday never comes.
The same thing happens in organisations. We start to transition but keep the ‘packaging’ that was meant to be temporary. We hold on to the boxes and packaging because it is familiar. And then, we find ourselves in a holding pattern, existing, not thriving.
Changing our operating models is hard work. It comes with risk. Perhaps it’s time to unpack that box and embrace a new way of being.