How we kill engagement, change and improvement

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One challenge in organizational development I often encounter in my work is escalation of commitment. This is actually a quite specific term in the topic of organizational behavior. Despite it seemingly positive association, it is referring to a considerably negative situation in OD implementation.

Escalation of commitment is a situation where people try to solve their problems or failure by trying again and again the same thing that has failed before. This is usually done with more intensity and efforts, without reviewing the fact that they might commit to irrelevant course of actions. Einstein was quite known with his thought on this:

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

So, that’s for the philosophical background. The next question would be on how we actually did that. I say that we often killed any kind of development through all thing we believe as good things. These good things, with our unchecked beliefs we had on them; are things that put us in doing the same failing course of actions again and again….escalation of commitment!

It is not that these things are not good things. It’s only that repeating good things are not always creating constructive results. These good things that are not always lead to good results, I call them as ‘change-killers’. These change-killers are things that actually hinder our potential to develop. They kill the potential for engagement, momentum for change and enthusiasm for improvement. In OD context, these are things that strangle us in a way that we can no longer think out-of-the-box. Without ‘out-of-the box’ perspective, OD will not exist.

Here are some easily spotted change-killers:

Perfectionism leads to blindness toward space for innovation

Most of the times, our affinity to perfection traps us. Our commitment to perfection makes us extremely focus on what we want, but failing us to see what may exist beside what we called as perfect. We often kill any space for innovation, just because we prematurely consider that space as flaws or distraction. What makes it even more interesting, this attitude will drive us away from perfection.

Superficial sociability leads to facade engagement

Having a lot of friends in social media doesn’t automatically give you intensive engagement with your surrounding. In OD context, an organization may have many events, ceremonies or socialization; and still don’t have good quality of people engagement. This is what I call as facade engagement, in which people seems to interact and get along well, but actually there is less personal and emotional bond to each other as a part of one organization. In facade engagement, people form a crowd. A crowd is indicated by superficial sociability that consists of shallow interaction.

Self pride leads to rigidity

Some people like to take issues as personal, and that makes everything related to that person more difficult to adjust. This is how self pride leads to rigidity. Self pride is necessary for every human being. However, when self pride occupied too much of our self, it’s destructive. It makes us think that any issues, critiques or problems are attack to our personality. In organization, the most popular example is when change initiatives are perceived as an attack to people who is running the system. The problem is not on the change initiatives, but on the people whose self pride has made them extremely rigid and no longer able to see that changes are essential for improvement.

Professionalism ego leads to narrowing point of view

Often times we use the term of professionalism to avoid people’s doubt on what we do. This might be done consciously or not. I believe such attitude is in fact professionalism ego, instead of real professionalism. It’s an ego that hides behind the word ‘professionalism’. Nonetheless, it’s not easy to fully aware and able to control this, as we all tend to mix up our ego with professionalism attitude. This is mainly because what we do expressing who we are, and we think our expertise or roles in the workplace determine who we are. This narrows our point of view, and makes us think that what we do is the only thing that matters for ourselves. This is a fatal fallacy and very detrimental to our ability for change.

Now, the question is: How well are we doing on this?

2 responses to “How we kill engagement, change and improvement

  1. The key to solve this problem is one: Collaboration.

    It’s true that in organization, we need strong characters and high skill to help organization to reach sustainable growth. If we want to share the problem with the others, we can try various method to solve the problem. But the first thing to do is eliminate all of our ego, ego is the source for perfectionist character and self pride (may be for this one I’d like to said shadowed pride because it’s meaningless, even you have the highest rank in organization).

    That’s why I told you that the values of collaboration is very high, because of their benefits for organization, no matter if you’re in small organization or large scale organization.

    Combine strong individual skill with solid team work, you’ll unbeatable.

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