Change and the Organizational ADHD Disease

Leadership has never been easy and organizational communication has been a known challenge in the history of Mankind. The Leader who can communicate successfully can achieve miracles and when it comes to communication skills, we accept and stress the importance of this – and yet it is still one of the least trained skills in leaders and, also the one skill, many still believe can be learned in hours.

Consider this scenario: You are about to launch a mission critical change for your organization and as the CEO, you stress the importance of the communication of this major change to your team. The task of securing the communication, is given to the head of the change initiative or to the HR team… “Find some training in change communication”.

Although this change is so vital to the continued success or even survival of the company, the time and money allotted for this communication training is limited to a few hours or maybe one day.

Due to the urgency of the change initiative, C-Level ends up not being trained, because by title, they are supposed to be great communicators and middle management, who must pass the message with less insight, are given a half day briefing. Yet to everyone’s surprise, the communication of the change initiative doesn’t create the long term buy-inn needed to sustain the change, and when realizing this, the blame is on almost all other than the decision makers.

According to several research papers from some of the leading resources on change, majority of M&A’s and major change projects fail, and one of the main reasons is poor communication. Despite this well-known fact, there is still a dominating belief that powerful communication is learned in a few hours or days and for sure the C-Level people only need a few hours… because their communication has the least importance or what?

And here starts the problem; communication is a nominalization, meaning a word that has a broad and no distinct meaning. Communication can be emails, can be speeches, can be articles, can be one-to-one conversations, but the word, doesn’t reveal the contextual meaning nor the quality.

Information flows and decision speeds has not only doubled but probably ten-doubled in the span of the last thirty years and our biggest challenge today is to sort out what is fake and real news and information. The quick answer to everything is “Google it” but when you do, contradictory findings appear almost every time. In other words, communication has become more complex and needs even more definition and quality control!

This increased speed of things has also led to a phenomenon that I call organizational ADHD. Anything that requires more time is seen as an unnecessary evil, as organizations consistently searches for new and faster ways to achieve. As an example, from our world; why use time and money on real training, when we can give our people an E-Learning, it’s faster and cheaper, right? This is called Development and is under normal circumstances a good thing – BUT – there is a downside. When short attention span and impatience become the modus operandum, we risk a bigger failure than the upsides we can gain by this. When we think that knowledge is the same as skills, we fail. You do not become an Olympian athlete by reading a book. Skills requires not only practice, but also consistent feedback on progress and progress is not equal to finalizing an e-module and answering the quiz.

A famous quote says, “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard!” Translated this means if you plan your route to success with shortcuts, you will be beaten by those who are willing to do what it takes.