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Sunday, 26 January 2014 00:00

Better Change Management Through Architecture?

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Sometimes it takes a physical change to spark a behavioral one

The countries of the former USSR are in a difficult period:  They know they need to hange, but are caught in the grip of hundreds of years of often-difficult history.  History is frequently a barrier to change, but a country isn't like an office:  You can't just buy some new office furniture, paint the walls and invite everyone in for a lunch'n'learn when you want to signal - and foster - a major change of direction.

But maybe you can do other things.

better change management through architecture

Recently, Georgia - the one in Asia, not the one in the US - unveiled its brand new parliament building in Kutaisi.  The new building has been described as a "sci-fi bubble" and represents a deliberate departure from Soviet-era architecture (a Soviet war memorial was, in fact, demolished to make way for the new building).

The whole point of the $83 million structure, uniquely modern in its landscape, is to be a tangible expression of Georgia's commitment to moving past its Soviet history and towards a more global, independent future.  Ramaz Nikolaishvilli, Georgia's Regional Development and Infrastructure Minister, said:  "We don't want our children's taste to be ruined by communist architecture.  We want beautiful buildings and we want the next generation to grow up with good taste.  This will help them live in a better and more dignified way."

Of course, the project hasn't been without its difficulties:  Demolishing the war memorial caused injuries; there have been cost and deadline overruns; and there are plenty of detractors who think the building is both ugly and a misuse of public funds in what should be a time of austerity.

Is the big risk going to pay off in big results for Georgia?  It's probably too soon to tell, but early signs suggest that bold moves like the new parliament buildings, combined with other efforts to remove Soviet-era reminders are helping Georgians to see themselves as independent, entrepreneurial, and ready to compete in a global economy - all of which will put it ahead of other former USSR countries in the long run.

Lessons for change management practitioners

It's tempting to think of 'change management' as something that happens in big companies, in 6-month cycles with tidy little project plans.  Georgia's new parliament buildings are a good reminder that sometimes 'change' is much, much bigger than implementing a new enterprise-wide CRM system.

At the same time, however, all business-related change management really involves many of the same things:

  1. Driving better business results - whether within an organization, an industry, or even a continent
  2. Knowing that sometimes you have to take big risks in order ot have a chance to achieve big rewards
  3. Having a clear vision of what you're striving towards will help you weather the criticism
  4. Remembing that visionary change involves more than just this year's fiscal reports - it's about making investments that will set you up for success in the long term
  5. Sometimes changing one thing changes everything else.  You may not be able to change everything (or at least not as quickly as you'd like to), but taking the first big steps at least gets you moving.

 

Read 16893 times Last modified on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 03:42

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Beth Banks Cohn, PhD, founder and president of ADRA Change Architects, is dedicated to helping you and your organization reach your full business potential…
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