organizational change title

Because "culture eats strategy for breakfast," effective change requires cultural engagement at the level of personal beliefs, values, and aspirations.

Systems vs. Symptoms


The more things change, the more they stay the same.


This old chestnut is also true when it comes to organizational change. Though many companies recognize and pay lip service to the need to evolve, the vast majority struggle to realize full returns on their investments in new capabilities, restructured organizations or operational improvements.


When business imperatives require collective action, achieving and sustaining success is often dependent on engaging the entire system – processes and functions, teams and organizations, tools and technology. The right teams must collaborate and structures properly aligned for success. But too often managers conceive of change in fragmented ways, in terms of individual components or disparate silos.


A system perspective recognizes that individual components exist in complex and interdependent relationships. Change in any one component impacts and influences the entire system. Understand the interrelationships and you gain valuable insights – like when tipping points will be reached, where the hidden risks lie, and how to avoid unintended consequences.


Until the leaders and employees of an organization adopt a broader systems perspective, they are likely to feel pulled in many directions. They will struggle to deal with what they perceive as contradictory or unrealistic goals and a narrow, restrictive focus on individual silos. These are the conditions under which unproductive conflict, power struggles, frustration and low morale may – and often do – result.


Organizational tension and anxiety are inevitable during times of change. That's why companies must consider their approach to managing it. The common impulse is to fight, flight, or freeze – but those responses hinder or block entirely processes necessary to drive the organization forward toward its objectives. But nor should organizations focus solely on alleviating the main symptom of anxiety. While this seems appropriate to keep an organization operating in the short term, it can unintentionally create barriers to fulfilling the objectives of the intended change or development initiative.



Change As Value Creator


McCarthy Consulting engages leaders seeking productive change. Our organizational change experts determine applicable best practices within innovative, customized solutions that help organizations achieve their unique strategic goals and mitigate dysfunctional behaviors. Our approach is designed to ensure the empowering momentum linked to key initiatives and products produce tangible near-term results (fulfilling the business case), but also take hold for sustained organizational effectiveness.


Applying a systems perspective, we help leaders determine the impact of reducing or temporarily increasing anxiety in the organization to enable it to move through the symptoms of flight, flight or freeze to desired future states. And we help leaders and employees develop systems thinking capabilities to more effectively strategize on how to best work with each other, with the organization as a whole, and with customers and external stakeholders.


Our approach to organizational change and effectiveness is:

  • Systems-oriented – taking in the big picture to drive substantive and sustainable change, not just make symptoms go away
  • Culturally-enabled – leveraging institutional beliefs and values where possible, while acknowledging and negotiating cultural constraints
  • Holistic & integrated – examining changes at the micro-level in terms of specific functions, organizations and teams
  • Tailored – can be deployed alongside specific change initiatives and programs


Are You Looking for More Powerful & Sustainable Change?


"We have been rolling out consecutive initiatives to address major issues, while the initiatives are well packaged and gain early commitment, they are not taking hold or moving us to the next level."


"How do we get people to be more accountable?"


"We are caught in a cycle of reacting to employee issues, but lack the people and the skills to anticipate and address issues proactively."