The most asked question at my first US seminar and workshop is how do I get employees engaged in change (or in this case systems thinking – Vanguard style).  The question is revealing on its own. 

The problem with the question is that change shouldn’t be about doing something to a group of employees using coercion.   Change should be emergent.  Employees should be willing to change.

The problem is perspective.  When change is made top-down and decisions separated from the work change is hard.  This is because the change is forced upon employees or rationalized in “all-hands” meetings.

In systems thinking this is never the case.  Workers are engaged from the beginning and involved in decision-making about their work.  Results are better because of this engagement and because better decisions are made from knowledge (as opposed to anecdotal evidence, reports and plans).

Employees only resist change when they don’t understand or know the change will make serving the customer more difficult.  Management and employee relationships become adversarial.  Frustration leads to low morale.

The way to correct this is to work together to understand customer demand and purpose.  Once understood, new customer measures can be in place.  These types are better than the old financial, productivity and internal measures with targets tied to someones whim.

The beauty of all this is that focusing on customer purpose and demands drives costs out . . .and not just a little, but a lot.  Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.

Leave me a comment. . . share your opinion!  Click on comments below.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Download free from “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at LinkedIn at