“It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”
Leon C. Megginson
We live in a new world of change management. Societies and cultures grow, alter, and evolve with each passing day. Organizations, be they nonprofits or private institutions, mirror these same societal shifts. New technologies, markets, and constraints push organizations into altering their normal day-to-day operations. Structured and formal companies are forced to change to maintain their competitive edge. A chasm unveils itself between the old and new, the known and the unknown.
That divide heavily impacts all involved. Humans are creatures of habit. To force a change upon a person is the equivalent of compelling them to quit smoking cold turkey (both endeavors have low success rates). Organizations lose sight of the overall objective that change is for improvement. When change is performed incorrectly, it not only negates the improvement but leaves the organization worse off.
The US Marine Corps initiated a seismic organizational shift from the last 200 years. Marines have always fallen into a disciplined organizational structure: divisions, regiments, battalions, companies, and platoons. Each platoon is composed of three squads of 13 Marines, who make up three fire teams of four people. This has been the standard for Marine maneuverability on the battlefield, where everyone’s movement depends on everyone else. This structure has excelled since its initiation and achieved mythical status.
However, Marine Commandant General Robert Neller knew that the wars of the future would continue to evolve and would be fought differently. He replaced two squad members with an assistant squad leader and a squad systems operator who would focus on technology. General Neller understood that the complexity of the battlefield would only continue to grow and that the need for alignment, clarity, and organization outweighed having two additional riflemen. While the change was met with harsh criticism about disrupting an ideal structure, it was made from a position of strength. The change was made before it was too late.
Change is inevitable, large and small. Few companies do it well, and the ones that execute flawless changes have given themselves a competitive advantage. This book provides a new look at change through the eyes of the stakeholder and explains how to nudge stakeholders in the right direction.
A nudge is a gentle prod, a slight push, a guide in the desired direction. Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein have helped the term “nudge” gain new popularity over the last decade. These two defined “Nudge Theory”: influencing behaviors and decisions through positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions. The following chapters will explore the potential of using nudges to increase the success rate of change management.
A leader’s role is to drive change, to improve or grow the organization. As a leader, you must engage the workforce for the change to come to fruition. Awarding decision-making responsibility to employees can be one of the greatest techniques for engaging others to join your change effort. Nudge change management enables a leader to become a decision architect who facilitates change instead of forcing it.
Because nudges guide decisions. Therefore organizations implement change. However, the effect enforces the standard.
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