Harnessing the Power of Diversity and Inclusion in Change Initiatives

According to Bruce Fern of Change Ready Solutions, a recent Waggl webinar speaker, “Today, more than ever, in order to stay relevant, competitive and meet evolving customer demands, businesses must be capable of managing rapid and complex change. Many businesses speak to the importance of diversity and inclusion. Nevertheless, they miss the tremendous opportunity that change offers to put to practice the power of diversity and inclusion.”

Bruce provided an insightful and practical presentation on the relationship between diversity and inclusion and their potential impacts on business outcomes. He particularly focused on the advantage of using change initiatives to cultivate inclusive practices that, in turn, lead to more diverse and inclusive corporate cultures and better business results.

Organizational Change: Defined and Obstacles

There are many definitions of change. To Bruce, organizational change is “an organizational journey from some current state to an envisioned future state.” In elaborating on this definition, Bruce explained that the journey involves managing complex operational and people transitions, all with the purpose of achieving targeted business outcomes.

In the organizational change space, we continue to hear the statistic that 70 percent of change efforts fail even though this statistic hasn’t been validated. According to IBM’s research, however, the number is still alarming with IBM’s study finding only 41 percent of change efforts were considered successful in meeting all of the original objectives of the change. Change efforts that failed to meet one or all of their targeted objectives were not counted as a success.

Our own quick pre-webinar pulse survey found similar insights. Only 38 percent of webinar participants who participated said that their organization’s past change efforts were well managed with everyone who was impacted by the change feeling involved and valued.

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According to IBM’s research, when asking why change efforts failed, the most frequently cited difficulty was changing people’s mindsets and behaviors. The second biggest obstacles was changing culture. These two factors can be elusive, though when approached successfully, can have the most lasting impact on an organizational change effort.

In exploring the challenges faced by the human side of change, Bruce introduced webinar attendees to the hippo phenomenon, which many organizations experience when trying to make decisions.

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With the hippo phenomenon, organizations focus on the leader’s views and don’t pay equal attention to more diverse views or the “smaller, softer” voices. These missed diverse perspectives are the ones that can highlight potential blind spots that organization leaders might not otherwise recognize.

Diversity and Inclusion that is Radical

Companies speak of the importance of diversity, but the value of diversity is made real through inclusion where there are systems in place and a culture of inclusion that elevates all voices.

Bruce continued, “if we want change efforts to be successful, we need to understand the different convergent but also divergent views.” During a change effort there are several windows of opportunity, as depicted below, to practice “Radical Inclusion” and expend extra effort to include others in the change process.

Radical Inclusion

In elaborating on how to create a system that encourages more voices in a change effort, Bruce pointed to the value of technology. He shares Waggl’s mindset that technology is invaluable if organizations want to include more voices in their decision-making.

Technology is here to make work more human, to hear more voices and to allow leadership to move forward with plans that take diverse points perspectives into consideration. Without tools, it’s more difficult to access employee voice while honoring and valuing the distinct views of others.

Waggl is always grateful to partner with experienced leaders in this space. Bruce elaborated further on his webinar discussion in his most recent white paper. You can access his white paper here.

We are helping organizations make work more human through authentic employee voice. Our platform doesn’t just measure engagement or collect feedback, it is engagement and culture-building in action. If you want to learn more about how our tools can help your organization develop a culture of inclusion and diversity, get in touch!