To lay the groundwork for true and effective participation among stakeholders, change agents must create an environment that enables high quality conversations and learning interactions and that engenders strong positive emotions.
A few years ago, under the direction of a new facility manager, the Human Resources Director of a large Canadian oil refinery approached me to complete a whole-systems operational assessment. I advised an alternative approach, suggesting that I facilitate the work of a steering team that would guide this critical effort and design its own set of interventions. While the HR Director was intrigued by the approach, she declined, saying that she had “no time” as the new facility manager wanted the recommendations yesterday. I gave her the names of several consulting firms and the assessment was duly completed. Two years later she called me and reported that none of the consultant’s recommendations had been implemented. I asked why, and her answer confirmed a deep truth about enabling change. In essence, she said that because senior managers and key staff were not involved, they did not support the recommendations. Sadly, they had a strategy with no people committed or energized to make it happen.