27 Nov


"Real change starts with real dissatisfaction."

Patrnchak, J. (2023, May). Five Core Principles to Create Organizational Change.  Morning Keynote Presentation. Buffalo ; NY.

 THE MEAT (The Main Idea)

Joseph Patrnchak, the former Chief Human Resources Officer at Cleveland Clinic, brings a ton of experience to the table with this quote. Patrnchak spent his time turning around organizations to create engaged and satisfied workforces. 

It serves as a mirror reflecting the disappointment many feel with their organizations. Patrnchak's words are particularly directed at the organizational culture, which often serves as the breeding ground for dissatisfaction. While it's easy to identify specific elements causing discontent in our workplaces, such as rickety copy machines and meetings that could have been emails, a closer examination reveals that the root cause frequently lies within the overarching culture. 

But let's talk about the other "C" word organizations struggle to shake off – complacency. Oh, you thought it was a different "C" word? Well, Comfortable works too (😊). What were you thinking?

The real troublemaker in an organization isn't always the obvious dysfunction; it's that cozy acceptance of the status quo. You know, those phrases like "If it ain't broken" or "Things work out in the end." That's the cozy status quo organizations don't want you to touch. Patrnchak's wisdom goes beyond just a list of workplace annoyances. He's pushing us to realize that it's only when people are seriously fed up that real change can begin. Dissatisfaction isn't just a bunch of complaints; it's the "I can't take it anymore" and the "somethings have got to change around here" that gets the transformation ball moving.

THE CHEESE (Added Depth) 

Now, let's talk about flipping the script on dissatisfaction. It's not about wallowing in the negativity; it's about using it as a power-up for change. Dissatisfaction is the wake-up call that says, "Hey, things could be better!" Beckhard and Harris crafted a model as a roadmap, showing us how dissatisfaction can spark transformative change. Enter the formula: D x V x F > R. Dissatisfaction with the current status, multiplied by a clear Vision of the preferred future, multiplied by the acceptance of the First step toward that preferred future, needs to be greater than the existing Resistance to change. Acknowledging the formula's limitations, I see it as a tool to provoke thought around dissatisfaction and leverage it as a catalyst for change.

While critics argue the formula's simplicity, subjectivity, and difficulty to quantify, I view it not as a rigid prescription but a tool to provoke thought around dissatisfaction and drive change. Think of it as a conversation starter, channeling dissatisfaction into a structured dialogue about improvement. Despite its limitations, the formula serves as a valuable starting point for navigating change and fostering meaningful transformation.

Now, let's break it down with an example:

Imagine you're in an organization where everyone's had enough of the outdated processes and stifling bureaucracy. The dissatisfaction level (D) is running high – people are grumbling about inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and missed opportunities.

Add a sprinkle of Vision (V). Picture this: a streamlined, innovative, and collaborative workplace where ideas flow freely, and processes are as smooth as butter. This vision gives dissatisfaction a purpose; it transforms grumbles into a shared aspiration.

But hey, a vision alone won't cut it. It's time for the First step (F). Let's say the organization introduces a pilot program to test new processes in a small, manageable area. It's a practical and achievable first step toward the envisioned future.

Now, here's the magic – D x V x F needs to be greater than the Resistance (R) to change. In our example, the collective dissatisfaction, coupled with a compelling vision and a realistic first step, creates a force that overpowers the resistance to change. It's like a gust of wind that finally clears the stuffy air.

So, as we navigate the complexities of dissatisfaction and change, remember, this formula is a guide, not a magic wand. It sparks conversations and nudges us to think differently and change.

 THE OLIVES (A Surprising Element) 

It's essential to identify the road to dissatisfaction before we even arrive at its crossroads. Equally crucial is recognizing the precursor—a subtle murmur that, if left unchecked, can manifest new emotions along our way.

Antecedent to Discontentment:
Before we even approach the signpost of discontentment, there exists a precursor—an echo of unfulfilled potential or a quiet longing that beckons us toward introspection. This antecedent, often subtle and easily overlooked, lays the groundwork for the emotional journey ahead. It's the gentle murmurings that something might be amiss, an uncharted territory awaiting discovery.


Moving forward on this emotional roadway, we encounter the first signpost—discontentment. It's here that the landscape begins to change, and the journey of self-reflection gains momentum. Discontentment serves as the initial stirrings, a gentle reminder that there might be more to explore in the vast landscape of our lives. It acts as a guidepost, directing us toward the evolving notes of transformation.

Continuing our journey, we reach the crossroads of dissatisfaction. This is the bold realization, the moment when the landscape shifts into focus. Real dissatisfaction emerges, demanding our attention and prompting us to question the status quo. It's the turning point that signals a deeper transformation is on the horizon. 

Caution: The Precipice of Depression:
However, as we traverse this emotional highway, it's crucial to approach with caution. Beyond dissatisfaction, there exists a precipice—the potential descent into depression. This cautionary stage reminds us to be mindful of the heavy emotional burdens that may require professional support. Depression, like a shadow along the road, calls for an awareness of its presence and the wisdom to seek guidance when needed. 

In the echo of Joseph Patrnchak's wisdom, we're reminded: real change starts with real dissatisfaction. Recognizing where we stand on the road of dissatisfaction is critical to planning our next steps. Are we discontent, dissatisfied, or teetering on the edge of depression? Then we can usher in that gust of wind to clear out the stuffy status quo.  

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