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Progress is About Taking it to the Bummock

I love words. As a kid I collected dictionaries – yes, I am a word nerd. I got especially excited when an early dictionary from yesteryear did not include a new word that had been discovered in my current one. I imagined what it must be like to officially add a word and who got to decide on the fate of letters that came together to form an uttered concept.


Imagine my excitement when I found a word in the British-English dictionary that captured a concept I wanted to convey – The BUMMOCK. It is fun to say, right? It is even better once you understand what it represents in the context of something else, I like, change.


In the world of change management, the iceberg metaphor is a familiar sight. Often, we focus on the "tip" – the visible challenges and easily identifiable aspects of organizational change, such as strategy adjustments, process re-engineering, or technology upgrades.


It is what lurks below the surface that will get you bogged down. Beneath the surface lies the "bummock" of the iceberg, a vast, unseen area comprising organizational culture, hidden assumptions, unspoken norms, and deeply held beliefs. Acknowledging and addressing this submerged portion is crucial for true, inclusive change.


So, let’s talk about what lurk in the bummock of inclusion, so that true change can happen.


Understanding the Bummock

Inclusion in change management means recognizing and valuing the diverse perspectives, experiences, and skills that individuals bring to an organization. It involves creating an environment where everyone feels seen, heard, and empowered to contribute to the change process. To achieve this, it's essential to look beyond the surface and dive into the deeper, often overlooked elements of organizational culture and structure. These elements, or the "bummock" of the iceberg, play a critical role in how change is received and implemented across an organization.


The Role of Organizational Culture

Organizational culture is a key component of the bummock. It encompasses the shared values, beliefs, and practices that shape how work gets done and how people interact within the organization. When undergoing change, it's crucial to consider how these cultural elements may support or hinder the process. Inclusion means ensuring that the culture promotes openness, adaptability, and respect for diverse ways of thinking and working. It also involves actively challenging and transforming any aspects of the culture that may be exclusionary or resistant to change.


Addressing Hidden Assumptions and Norms

Another critical aspect of the bummock is the network of hidden assumptions and norms that influence behavior and decision-making. These can include deeply ingrained biases, unchallenged ways of working, and implicit rules about who gets heard and who doesn't. Inclusive change management requires bringing these hidden elements to the surface, examining them critically, and working collaboratively to reshape them in ways that promote equity, diversity, and inclusion. This made me think of a former boss who arrived at the office by 6:30 a.m. because that is how he was trained when he started his career. At some point, he decided that people were not committed if they did not arrive at 6:30 a.m. I helped him see that while some people did not arrive at 6:30, they were sending emails well after 9pm at night – some people are night owls and some people are morning birds.


The Importance of Psychological Safety

Creating a sense of psychological safety is essential for addressing the bummock in change management. This means fostering an environment where individuals feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, questions, and concerns without fear of ridicule or retribution. Psychological safety allows for the open discussion of the challenges and opportunities presented by change, including those that lie beneath the surface. It encourages everyone to contribute their insights and ideas, which can lead to more innovative and effective solutions.


Inclusive Communication Strategies

Effective communication is a cornerstone of inclusive change management. It involves more than just disseminating information; it's about engaging in meaningful dialogue that acknowledges and respects the diversity of experiences and perspectives within the organization. Inclusive communication strategies ensure that all voices are heard, particularly those that may have been marginalized or overlooked in the past. This can help in uncovering the hidden aspects of the bummock and integrating diverse viewpoints into the change process.


Leveraging Diversity for Innovation

Acknowledging the bummock of the iceberg also means recognizing the value of diversity in driving innovation and success. Diverse teams bring a range of experiences, ideas, and problem-solving approaches to the table. By fully engaging with the depth and breadth of talent within an organization, leaders can harness this diversity to navigate the complexities of change more effectively and create solutions that are robust, creative, and inclusive.


Add the Bummock to your Dictionary!

You don’t have to be a word nerd like me to appreciate the bummock. Just remember that  successful and inclusive change management goes far beyond addressing the visible aspects of change. It requires a deep dive into the bummock of the iceberg, where the less visible but equally critical elements of organizational culture, hidden assumptions, and unspoken norms reside. By acknowledging and actively engaging with these submerged aspects, organizations can foster a truly inclusive environment that supports lasting, meaningful change. This approach not only enhances the effectiveness of change initiatives but also builds a stronger, more resilient, and inclusive organizational culture that is capable of thriving in an ever-changing world.


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