The Psychology of Change

30 October 2008

I was privileged last week to attend a presentation by Malcolm Lewis. Malcolm is a practising chartered accountant but nowadays he combines his extensive “hard” business knowledge with an unusual skill in the business world – that of humanistic psychology - to foster cultural change on a large scale. Indeed, he is involved in change on the largest of scales, as one of his projects involves working with an Eastern European country to help produce their national plan to 2030.

Styling himself as a “Wizard and Corporate Alchemist”, Malcolm draws on the theories of Maslow and Richard Barrett’s “seven levels of awareness[link is a PDF opening in new window] to demonstrate that these theories can be used to encourage cultural change in large organisations. The lowest level of awareness is “survival” with “service” at the highest level. Malcolm showed that within an organisation, employees’ personal values typically operate at a higher level than the organisation’s cultural values.  By qualitatively measuring employees’ personal values, and the current and desired cultural values of the organisation, he has been able to make targeted, measurable and sustainable business change by aligning organisational values and behaviours with employees’ personal values and beliefs.

I’m particularly interested in approaches like these because as I’ve mentioned previously, adopting an agile approach is a culturally-driven activity, not just a process-driven one.

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