Organizational change not happening fast enough? Something has changed over the past years, and it is bringing along a change of its own.

The days of top-down led organizational change are gone. The old, pre-pandemic way, was largely consisting of telling employees a positive story, then relying on that story to get their buy-in, for a change whose course had already been decided. Take all the breadth and depth of change that teams have had to put up with over the recent years, mix it with the feeling that people have stretched themselves too thin anyway, and it becomes obvious that attempting a top-down change strategy these days will mostly be a losing play.
There is a new way of determining change and allowing for its implementation emerging, in which employees actually understand why change is necessary- and if slowing down the pace of change while battling resistance is not what is desired - then getting more commitment from teams and giving them a sense of ownership over what comes next can ensure a better process altogether. 

There is an old Indian parable about six blind men trying to figure out what an elephant looks like – each one takes a different part and describes it based on their own limited point of view. This is not just how many employees feel when faced with a massive change, it is also how many leaders feel. After some time spent in a leadership position, leaders most often become increasingly disconnected to the work. What them is the way forward?

Increasingly involving employees in the decision-making process

When leaders actively involve employees in the creation of important decisions, several advantages come to light:

  • Diverse perspectives: employees represent a diverse range of skills, knowledge, and experiences. By including them in decision-making processes, leaders gain access to a wealth of perspectives and insights that may otherwise go untapped. This diversity of thought can lead to more well-rounded and innovative solutions.
  • Increased engagement and ownership: when employees have a voice in decision-making, they feel a greater sense of ownership and commitment to the outcomes. This engagement translates into higher levels of motivation, productivity, and job satisfaction. As a result, organizations can experience improved employee morale and retention rates.
  • Enhanced problem-solving: by involving employees, leaders tap into the collective intelligence of the organization. Employees at all levels often possess unique problem-solving abilities, creative ideas, and domain expertise. Harnessing these resources can lead to more effective and sustainable solutions that address challenges from multiple angles.
  • More trust and collaboration: inclusive decision-making fosters trust between leaders and employees. When individuals feel their opinions are valued, they are more likely to trust in the decision-making process and the organization as a whole. This trust cultivates a collaborative culture where employees are willing to share their ideas, collaborate with others, and work towards common goals.

Applying an open-source approach to decision implementation

Taking an open-source approach during the implementation phase of decisions can yield numerous benefits:

  • Iterative and agile implementation: adopting an open-source approach to decision implementation allows for iterative and agile processes. Rather than rigidly adhering to a predetermined plan, an open-source mindset encourages continuous feedback, learning, and adaptation. This approach enables organizations to respond swiftly to challenges and seize new opportunities as they arise. By embracing flexibility and agility, leaders can navigate complex implementation landscapes and ensure that decisions evolve to meet changing needs and circumstances.
  • Transparent communication: an open-source approach promotes transparent communication and information sharing. This transparency helps employees understand the rationale behind decisions and provides an avenue for voicing concerns or suggesting improvements. Transparent communication fosters trust and empowers employees, creating a more inclusive and engaged work environment.
  • Leveraging collective intelligence: when implementing decisions from an open-source standpoint, organizations can tap into the collective intelligence of their workforce. Employees become active contributors, sharing their expertise, insights, and ideas. This collaborative effort enables organizations to leverage the diverse skill sets and knowledge of their employees, leading to innovative and sustainable solutions.
  • Encouraging innovation and learning: open-source implementation fosters an environment that encourages experimentation and learning. Employees are empowered to explore new approaches, learn from their successes and failures, and share their findings with others. This culture of innovation fuels organizational growth and adaptability, helping companies stay ahead in a rapidly evolving business landscape.

By empowering employees and valuing their contributions, leaders tap into a wealth of diverse perspectives, enhance employee buy-in, and foster a sense of ownership over the outcomes. Additionally, embracing open-source principles during the implementation phase enables organizations to leverage the collective intelligence of their workforce, promote collaboration, and drive iterative, agile, and scalable change initiatives. More inclusive change strategies can ensure better speed at which change is implemented. But increasingly involving employees in both the decision and the implementation process requires a mindset where leaders move away from directing change to instead focus on finding the best ways to keep their employees accountable of change implementation.