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'Disruptive Change Management' Can Move Us into the Future

'Disruptive Change Management' Can Move Us into the Future


By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Dean, School of Business, American Public University

Despite a thriving economy, companies are closing or experiencing stagnant growth. But have we ever thought that they are suffering because there’s been no change in mindset to move the businesses toward what the future world of work will look like?

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Many of us will say that we embrace change and spend time, money, and effort preparing workplaces for the inevitable. However, have we considered that these expenditures only scratch the surface?

Instead of providing awareness training, shouldn’t we provide opportunities for our workforce to explore how these initiatives will make a difference in their daily lives? Do we spend too much time on the “big picture” instead of getting in the trenches, where the real shift will occur?

Disruptive Change Management Could Change the Workplace

I recently had the opportunity to hear a sermon during which the pastor mentioned the concept of “disruptive change management.”

Disruptive change management is a concept whereby we accept that (1) conflict is inevitable, (2) change starts with the individual, and (3) results are based on all people in the entity acknowledging that they play a critical role in making the transition successful.

How can we do this?

  • Confront and deal with conflict. Many organizations have found that the workforce struggles to deal with conflict. Even our managers are uneasy about confronting direct reports about performances that need to improve. The reality is conflict will exist and must be dealt with in an objective, constructive manner; not by an approach that is negative, biased and emotional. How do we train our employees to get past their fears and allow the organization to morph into a more positive, visionary environment? Can we get past the toxic cultures that are plaguing so many businesses?
  • Provide educational opportunities that deal with individual career development. Remember, Babbie Mason’s lyric, “each one can reach one”? Is it possible to develop customized career programs with the purpose of exploring self-awareness, strengths and opportunities that will provide employees with in demand skill sets?
  • Encourage the use of teams versus individual performance. I believe group think is killing a lot of organizations. This is especially true when leadership teams continue to resist diversity of thought by not encouraging and rewarding teamwork. Individual contribution is great when it can be vetted by others who may think differently. That’s when we get the best of a collective collaboration.

Now, you may not agree with some of my thinking. That’s okay. What is important is that we start somewhere and challenge ourselves to think about what will work best for our organizations. How can we create a “turnaround effect” for struggling organizations? What do you think will work for your employer?

About the Author

Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Dean of the School of Business at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.

Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and influential leader, manifesting people skills, a systematic approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.



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