Recognizing the discrepancy between target and actual – getting the upgrade of your organizational operating system underway

In the last blog post in my series on the implementation of the operating system I wrote about how important it is that companies reflect on the status and level of maturity of the organization before embarking on a necessary change. Today I will be describing how this definition of the starting point, which is critical for the success of a change measure, looks in practice.


Recognizing patterns – so that patterns can be broken up

In customer workshops we use the tried and trusted Haufe Quadrant check to identify the patterns of behavior which are necessary for the behavioral change. A cross section of all employees in the company (generally between ten and twenty people) is divided into two groups – one which is active and one which observes. As diverse a variety of participants as possible should be selected so that the variety of points of view from the company is maximized. The members of the active group place themselves in the Haufe Quadrant, which is depicted on the floor as a model, while the members of the observer group stand around it. The active participants stand for around ten minutes in each of the four zones of the Quadrant and discuss all the associations that occur to them in relation to the particular organizational form: What experiences do they link with it, what ideas spring to mind and to what extent is their team reflected in this operating status? This is done so that the outside observers can recognize the behavioral patterns of employees and managers. Once the active participants have spent time in each zone of the Quadrant, the groups change roles and describe their perceptions. Behavioral patterns can then be deduced from this cognition, such as a strong transactional leadership culture in command and control or the avoidance of shadow organizations – guaranteeing aha experiences for all participants.


Actual and target status: The journey through the Haufe Quadrant

In our workshop this active pattern recognition exercise is followed by a second exercise building upon the first one. All participants are given a moderation card, which they may divide up as they wish. What they have to do is lay the card – or individual card parts – on the place in the Haufe Quadrant where they rank the current status of their company. Are they in command & control, overexerted or maybe even embedded in several organizational forms simultaneously? This consideration alone prompts many exciting discussions – and usually results in the cards being divided and placed in different fields and characteristics on the axes. Now the whole group reflects on the position of the individual cards or card pieces, and these are also allowed to be moved around again. This part of the exercise will open the eyes of many participants as to the diversity of the organizational forms that exist within their company.
Now the same process is started with a second card in another color in order to define the future state of the company. What do we want to achieve? What organizational form(s) do we need to make our company future-proof? The result: In the majority of cases a large difference between the contextualization of the current status and the future state cards – and an optimal foundation for change. This image vividly illustrates to all stakeholders what direction the majority of them want the organization to take – and at the same it is possible to define what needs to be done to attain the future state.


Haufe Quadranten Check
The state cards in different colors mark the target and actual state of the company in the four areas of the Haufe quadrant.


With the Haufe Quadrant model companies quickly get their bearings, recognize their starting point and are in a position to make sound decisions on where action needs to be taken to upgrade the organizational operating system. We have collected these experiences in several hundred workshops. For the broader application in a company with multiple participants (from around 25 to several thousand employees) we use the digital form of the Quadrant check.

These two exercises in our customer workshops show that with the help of fairly simple tools and methods such as the Haufe Quadrant the groundwork can be laid for an enduringly successful change. In our next post you will read about the measures that should follow this phase of initial cogitation.


What experiences have you had when analyzing the initial situation at the starting point of the change process? Which methods and experiences were you impressed by in this context?


Photo Credit: Ryan McGuire via Gratisography

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