Anyone who’s spent enough time working for a large enterprise understands that when the organization’s nimbleness declines, it almost always coincides with its increasing size. The larger the company, the slower the rate of response to shifting market dynamics.

But regardless of how dominant your company may be, success is unsustainable unless decision makers understand that change is inevitable.

In the article, “Build a change platform, not a change program,” courtesy of the management consultancy McKinsey & Company, the authors argue for a shift from the traditional top-down approach to launching organizational change.

From the piece:

“The reality is that today’s organizations were simply never designed to change proactively and deeply—they were built for discipline and efficiency, enforced through hierarchy and routinization. As a result, there’s a mismatch between the pace of change in the external environment and the fastest possible pace of change at most organizations. If it were otherwise, we wouldn’t see so many incumbents struggling to intercept the future.”

As companies grow and become more bureaucratic, the ability to respond to shifting market trends by enacting immediate change is inhibited.

So, how to overcome such a glacial corporate environment? The article offers great advice for doing so, centered on what the authors call “socially constructed change.”

Here’s a quote that I think nicely summarizes the challenge of enacting change and the high-level solution:

“Guiding a process of socially constructed change is neither quick nor easy—but it is possible and effective. The biggest obstacles to creating robust change platforms aren’t technical. The challenge lies in shifting the role of the executive from change agent in chief to change enabler in chief. This means devoting leadership attention to the creation of an environment where deep, proactive change can happen anywhere—and at any time—and inspiring the entire organization to swarm the most pressing issues.”