Organizational Change: 10 Types Of Intervention

Video: "What Would You Do" TV show, ABC - Customers are tested: What would you do if you saw a clerk cheating a customer out of their lottery winnings?

I love the ABC-TV show "What Would You Do?"

It sets up typical life situations where a person witnesses wrongdoing, or potential wrongdoing, and has to decide whether to get involved or not. (Typical episode here.)

This show helps me to change - to work up the courage to speak up for my beliefs. It's an example of tactic #3 on this list, "hidden camera."

If you show a person, or an organization what they look like on tape, it can be a powerful motivator to change.

I'm not here to advocate for one of these over the other, or to argue the relative morality of any of these tactics.

Just pointing out that these interventions typically work - and that trying to "go it alone" (just like hoping and wishing for change) is rarely a strategy.

My "top 10":

1. Face-to-face confrontation - effective, but must take place between two parties of relatively equal power, or where there is a gulf so great that the more powerful party feels able to listen. Not optimal because it stings the ego badly. Example: This is typical in movies.

2. Proxy - a diplomatic third party mediates - can work well, but is very tricky. Example: Diplomacy.

3. Hidden camera, as above - very effective, is unusual and may involve danger or legal risk.

4. Crisis - an accident occurs, safety issues are uncovered, an executive is caught lying, etc. Example: Toyota.

5. Inspired leader - a leader with charisma who motivates the organization (or the country) to change. Example: Pick your favorite president.

6. Dictatorial leader - a leader with a vision, but who leaves people with no choice about how to implement it, and who is willing to make tough choices. Such a leader can also lead people in the wrong direction, of course. Example of a benevolent dictator type I respect: Rudy Giuliani.

7. Innovative competitor - someone else makes money and a name for themselves, and the organization decides to copy them. Example: Google copying Groupon.

8. Blogger or investigative journalist - someone on the outside, who cares passionately about a particular subject and is willing to invest a lot of time and research into writing about it. Example: You probably can think of one or two.

9. Social media campaign - many people look at the organization, country, etc. and decide to get involved to advocate for change. Example: Joseph Kony.

10. Insurrection - employees get together and create change from within. Not literally a revolt, but a sea change caused by a groundswell of support for a new way of doing things. Example: Gov 2.0.

Of course, if you want to be a change agent, you should know that you are putting yourself, your reputation, your career, and your personal brand at risk. You also are obligated to operate within legal and ethical boundaries.

This blog is not meant as legal advice, and all opinions are my own.

Good luck!