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"Switch" is the latest book on personal and organizational change by the Heath Brothers. There is a nice summary here. When the Heath brothers talk about the elephant,rider and plan they are really talking about the organization's right brain (emotions),left brain(logic) and path (process). But first about the Heath brothers.
I had read their great book "Made to Stick" about getting great ideas across and then related it to some Pharmaceutical industry executives in my New Product Development MBA class to very positive feedback. One of the Heath brothers, Chip Heath is a Stanford Organizational Behavior professor and a much cited scholar as well.Together they make a great team and do a wonderful job of communicating academic research in an "easy to understand" fashion. Their latest book "Switch" sparked my interest and I am thinking of what the real problem is in organizational change so fundamental to introducing innovations into the organization particularly from suppliers in the supply chain and new innovations to the customer across the distribution channel, the subject of this blog.
Business and organizational thinking has a lot of analytical elements ( just count the number of graphs, charts and well "numbers" in a business presentation !) and can sometimes have great emotional appeal, particularly if the speaker is a compelling one. The big gap seems to be in spelling out the path or process that will implement change and innovation.
Organizations develop routines and Karl Weick is my favorite author in understanding how organizations make sense,develop routines and get things done. Ask any BPO provider and they'll tell you that when they take up a BPO job the big challenge is to figure out the informal and formal routines of the client, create their own standard process to do the outsourced work and bring it back to the value chain of the client as seamlessly as possible.
The right brain (emotions or the "elephant") and the left brain ( numbers, analysis and "rider") are sort of ideas that stick ! The problem with routines,process or "path" is that these are less glamorous and seem boring.Also spelling out the path makes the manager feel "pinned down" which is really not necessary.The process does not have to be set in stone, but a road map is helpful. Look at your GPS carefully and you'll find that there is a disclaimer on the screen that the maps and GPS directions are for "guidance" and drivers should use judgment!
If GPS directions have disclaimers, I guess it is OK for organizations to develop road maps for managing change as they try to get the "elephant" and "rider" to work together.