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Problem of Change and Behavioral Change

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Performance-driven Culture (26-slide PowerPoint presentation). The Corporate Culture defines the very essence of the organization. A strong, positive Corporate Culture in the workplace fosters a good feeling in employees about their work and the work environment. This presentation provides a lot context around the important of behavior, as the most [read more]

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Problematic situations exhibit a common structure or pattern.  The structure of most problems comprises 3 main elements:

  • The Problem State
  • The Solved State
  • The Solution Path

The Problem State implies “what is,” the Solved State denotes “what should be,” and the Solution Path implies the changes integral to bridging the gap between the two states.  When presented with a problem, the Solution Path is a means of transitioning from the Problem State to the Solution State via certain specific actions.

Change Management presents several inherent underlying issues.  To confront a problem, the leadership should specify the behaviors that need to be stopped as well as those that should be adopted and seek practical solutions.  These solutions necessitate a set of changes with a clear course of action to change individuals’ behaviors.

When trying to solve a problem, it is important to look at it from two perspectives:

  • Content: The content perspective of problem solving looks at what the problem is about, its nature, and its characteristics. Depending on the type of problem, it could be behavioral, business-related, performance-related, or manufacturing-related.
  • Process: The process perspective looks at how the problem is approached and solved.

The method of confronting a problem from the content and process perspectives is manifested in fields such as Artificial Intelligence, Organizational Design, Digital Transformation, and Performance Management.

Most problems that organizations encounter are either general change related or specific Behavioral problems.

To tackle these problems, Lewin’s Force Field Analysis can be applied as a broad diagnostic tool.  As per Lewin’s Force Field Analysis, the Problem State (current situation) arises as a result of two equal forces that are contrasting but acting together.  One of these forces is a Driving Force, which pushes to break away from the current situation and toward a new or desired state.  The other is a Resisting Force that restrains the Driving Force and acts in the opposite direction.  These forces balance each other and maintain a state of equilibrium.

The Force Field Analysis helps in understanding why some people support change while others resist it. If the Driving Forces are stronger, they make the change more attractive to people.  However, if the Resisting Forces are greater, they are successful in maintaining the status quo.

Behavior Problems, in general, can be classified into 2 groups:

  • Problems of Omission – These problems surface when individuals neglect to perform or communicate what they are supposed to be doing. For example, by not communicating important information or failing to follow through on a promise.
  • Problems of Commission – These problems emerge when individuals perform something that they are not supposed to be doing. Such an inappropriate action can cause harm to people, reputation, or the organization.  For instance, telling a lie, committing fraud, or taking actions that are illegal or unethical.

The Problems of Omission and Commission both have negative consequences.  Omission can lead to missed opportunities, a loss of trust, and damaged relationships.  However, Problems of Commission result in legal or financial penalties, harm to others, or reputation damage.

There isn’t a single strategy to address these behavioral problems.  Depending on the type of behavior problem, Change Managers should exercise strategies that are ideal for a given scenario.

Increasing the factors that drive individuals to perform specific actions, reducing the factors that make them resist the directive, reducing the factors that support existing behaviors, and raising the forces that might potentially constrain them are some of the tactics that help managers deal with these problems.

Interested in learning more about the drivers and consequences of Behaviors and how to change them? You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on Problem of Change & Behavioral Change here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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