In Change Management, part of the most difficult tasks is to have all stakeholders, groups or even “couplings” within an institution or company to think alike. If managing a company is already a daunting task, imagine how difficult it is to only change certain aspects of day-to-day operations of big enterprises. As you might know, we are no longer in a direct top-down relationship with each other; we are merely interconnected through a complicated network of matrixes where in every project we have different roles. All the world’s a Stage, even more so in Change Management.
And yet, the biggest Change Manager of all times, should he wish to succeed in his plans, will be the next President of the United States. Change, most important cliffhanger of his campaign, can only happen if we believe we can change something.
If you accept that a manager is not much more than a robot getting the things done, you will realize pretty quickly that what we really want is a leader who knows where to go. Ask all the managers on Wall Street what happens if you only manage and fail to lead. In most cases to lead equals some degree of change. But if in our daily activities we are not very eager to even change the order of the day, then why should we want to change important parts of government. From Social Security to Kindergarten: we do not like to change our habits.
You might ask yourself: why did it take so long before someone took charge and tried to change things?
First, before Obama, lots of other candidates tried to change different aspects of government. Either they failed to even start their project, never could realize their vision or never got elected. Why? Let’s just say that elected officials and the government as an institution do not (or fail to) proactively address the different issues important to voters. Lobby groups, media and wealthy individuals, however, are important, as they decide firsthand who gets elected into the House or Senate. A publicly shared secret, valid in almost all democracies.
Second, it is for us voters -part of an intricate economic and social system- not always very interesting to see some big changes interfering with our current status quo. Even more, we do not “understand” everything, and are influenced easily by pundits (let alone experts) who claim to be addressing the issues with knowledge and impartiality. We are a diverse group with conflicting interests and this comes in handy when you need to get elected without being held accountable.
Third, there now is a sense of urgency. Where a couple of years ago things would be worked out “soon”, today certain decisions can’t be postponed any longer.
As such, I will be watching the Inauguration of the next President of the United States with great attention. For once, I will not pay attention to the policies he announces or the giant financial plans on his agenda. More important will be how President Obama will be able to communicate in clear terms his view of change, reconcile the different interests and have all 300 million Americans look into the same direction. How will we as a country make change?
Neither for Lincoln or FDR change has been easy or without party politics, but the fight for change they put up, changed the prospect of many citizens around the world. Fact is, the financial, economical and social tissues of our society are falling apart and maintaining a status quo is just not possible anymore. Will he be the right man who has come at the right time? I’m sure he will.