>Organizational Change Means Letting Go


In the book the “Tao of Leadership” by John Heider, he discusses “the paradox of letting go.” He states, When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be…by yielding, I endure…when I feel most destroyed, I am about to grow…let go in order to achieve.”

From a User-centric Enterprise Architecture approach, I think this is very applicable to developing, communicating, and achieving consensus on a target architecture and transition plan for the organization: for the enterprise to accept a new target architecture and a plan for change, the leadership, stakeholders, and all the rank-and-file, must be ready to “let go” of the as-is state.

If we forever hold on and embrace the way things are today, avoid any sort of risk-taking, and fear change, then we will never be able to achieve what could be. But rather, by being open to change, we free ourselves of the bounds and limitations of the here and now.

Often, I hear users in the organization say things like, “we’ve done it this way forever,” or “you don’t understand how we do things around here,” or “we’ve already tried changing to [fill-in-the-blank], and it’s never worked (i.e. we’ve never really been open to changing anything). These are exactly the kinds of things people say when they’re comfortable in their status quo; when they’ve been around for 20-25-even 30 years and don’t want or see any reason to change anything.

The world is a far different place today than it was 20-30 years ago or even 3-5 years ago, but people are risk averse, afraid of change or of losing some of their power, turf, or comfort, and they cling to what they believe are strategies that worked in the past and that they mistakenly believe will continue work in the present and forever.

This is the paradox of letting go that Heider talks about—when I let go of what I am (the as-is state of being), I become what I might be (the target state of being)!” Put another way, for an organization to progress, mature, and grow, it has got to be open to change. And finally, this openness to change has got to be more than just a dictate from the top or “lip service” from the rank and file. Change is hard, and to really succeed, everyone has got to be on board.

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