In this provocative blog, David Holzmer offers a fresh angle to the debate on disruptive change. He says that disruption isn’t anything new. It has always been part of organisational life. The only thing that has changed is that change is speeding up so there are less periods of stability and equilibrium. Rather than regarding disruption as something negative, risky or hard to control, Holzmer says we should embrace disruption as an opportunity to break away from outdated thinking, in particular, the notion that there is “one right way” to go about change. I agree with this. Often the “one right way” is determined by senior leaders. I’ve been part of many initiatives with a “one right way” or what I would call a “purist” methodology. These have included re-engineering, mechanistic programme management, Lean and community building approaches. Often these approaches are perceived by the workforce as imposed, jargon-ridden and/or hard to make sense of. I have great respect for all of these methodologies but my experience is that a single approach, on its own, is often insufficient to tackle the complex change challenges we face. We need to take ideas, methods and approaches from a lot of different places and blend them to make them meaningful for the people taking part in and impacted by the change.
The quote I like best in the Holzmer blog is that “If a system has a sufficient degree of internal complexity, diversity and instability become resources for change”. This is an opportunity for health and care systems right now. We have the potential to develop much more social, collaborative ways of going about change that are more suitable for an era of deep disruption in health and care. No more “one right way” and much more making sense of things together.