Tag Archives: organization change

Change won’t work without a human center

Author: Sue Evans | CEO

Talk about driving change is everywhere.  Organizations talk of transforming themselves through it, oppressed populations clamor for it, and presidents get elected on a platform of it.

As an ergonomist, I’m interested in focusing on the human element to drive change in organizations – in small single unit teams, federal agencies or international corporations.  Having a clear purpose behind the need to change is important, but alone won’t get results.  A plan for human engagement that communicates and aligns with the passions of the workforce is what’s key.

Recent reads of three current works on motivation, leadership and change have reinforced my belief that a human-centered (read: ergonomic) focus is key:

  • Daniel Pink’s book, “Drive!”, started me off thinking about rethinking what motivates people – and how understanding motivation in the 21st century is key driving successful change in the workplace. (see http://www.danpink.com/drive )
  • Steve Denning’s “The Leaders Guide to Radical Management”, got me thinking about focus and aligning the organization and engaging the employees to focus outward, towards the customer. (see http://www.stevedenning.com/Radical-Management/default.aspx )
  • Seth Kahan’s “Getting Change Right” makes organizational change practical by boiling it down to engaging people through effective communications that addresses individual motivation, aligned with the goals behind change. (seehttp://www.visionaryleadership.com/site/getting-change-right.php )

But ergonomic? Let’s change the common reaction to ergonomics as “can you align my chair?” to “can you align the pieces and parts of my organization”?  The International Ergonomics Association (IEA) defines ergonomics as the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.

Replace “system” with “organization” in IEA’s definition, since that’s really what an organization is – people, technology, environments, inputs, goals, processes and outcomes.  With that change, ergonomics fits perfectly as the underlying holistic approach to human-centered change.

In subsequent posts, I hope to further explore this relationship between ergonomics, change in the workplace, and other elements of organizational design and tie to specific excerpts of the recent publications referenced above.