Change is the lipstick of the season… It’s on everyone’s lips. Many seem to agree that the building industry needs to change and within this umbrella many companies are simply having to change in order to deal with the continuing effects of the recession. Last weekend I participated in the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Executive Engineers Programme and once again it was the hot topic. It would seem that engineers aren’t generally trained to deal with change. They like the quantifiable, not the uncertainty around the next corner. Learning how to cope with and, better yet, instigate change thus proved an excellent and challenging session for the young professionals in the room.
Led by Chris Fox of Creating-abilities, the session focussed on the patterns of behaviour defining the culture of different organisations. Organisations can be broadly categorised into four groups: Traditional, role focussed companies which operate hierarchically; Companies where decisions are taken by a centralised power club; Existential enterprises who are filled with talented individuals who align more to their profession than their employer and businesses with a task culture where different projects bring a number of people together and employees answer to more than one boss.
Historically Expedition seems to have straddled the task and power cultures whilst employing a bunch of people united by a trailblazing vision. These days, founders are contemplating legacy so employees’ engagement with practice identity is becoming more and more important. We are a bunch of talented built environment designers and engineers who want to work even more collaboratively in the future. Research into organisation and reflections on who we are and want to become suggest we would suit an ad-hoc, self-organising formation.
Creating change is where it all starts to get interesting. Reinforcing one of my previous posts, Retreat, Advance, original interventions concentrating on communication and teambuilding seem to be the key. Nothing new there, Expedition just need to put it in the diary.
‘What does life expect of me’ versus ‘what do I expect of life’? Change gets interesting when individuals consider whether they are going to be a change agent or sit back and be the victim. Whilst those pushing change have a responsibility to listen, support and guide affected parties, employees themselves must ultimately act.
Victor Frankel is potentially the most inspiring real life case study of controlling situations. Victor was a prisoner in Auschwitz during the war. He survived and inspired others to survive through having a personal purpose bigger than the problems he faced. He had to get out of there as only he could share his research. A lady he met was motivated to come through the ordeal as only she could be the grandmother to her grandchildren.
Work wise, in many ways it all comes back to vision. If we can work together to define a common purpose change could be a colour that suits all.