There are times when an organization must go through serious
transformation. By this we mean the type of game-changing metamorphosis
that requires corporate leaders to devise a new vision which must then
be adopted by staff members and ultimately put into action.
Transformational change is only possible with a legitimate sense of
urgency and effective change management that is orchestrated with a
change management strategy. This article, based on the Method
Frameworks Plan4SM process and adapted from John Kotter’s
8-step change model and book on change management best practices,
“Leading Change” (Harvard Business School Press, 1996), examines methods
for managing corporate change and accomplishing successful outcomes.
The issue is that transformations are often met with resistance as members of the organization must shift their way of thinking, learn new skills, and deal with unfamiliar situations, often ambiguous situations and many other uncomfortable realities that come along with the change management process.
When it comes to organizational transformation there are four key factors that determine the success or failure of the management of change:
- How the goal of the process, including the vision for the organization and sense of urgency, is communicated internally.
- How the organization uses its power centers to create organizational support. (see the article, “Change Agents: The Power Behind Effective Change Management”).
- How the leaders understand and leverage human behavior and staff motivations.
- How the transformation is planned.
Phase 1: Create a Sense of Urgency
In order to convince employees that change is necessary, the organization's leadership must develop a sense of urgency around the need for a shift. The urgency becomes the catalyst for change that is needed for employees to rally behind. It becomes the "cause". During the 1980s General Electric’s Chairman, Jack Welch, became highly influential and equally controversial in the world of strategic management. Although Welch focused on gaining competitive advantage for his organization, he also began downsizing and restructuring GE. Welch was a master at creating a sense of urgency to facilitate change in GE.
The sense of urgency must be real. Change management is never to be about deception. Effective change requires an open and honest dialogue between leadership, management and employees so that each person in the organization understands the change imperative - whether it is changes in competitive marketplace conditions or an economic downturn. Let your staff feel that they are part of the process in helping the change come to fruition.
Phase 2: Build a Change Management Team
In forming a "change coalition", start by doing the following:
- Identify the true leaders in your organization.
- Ask for an emotional commitment from these key people.
- Assess your team’s strengths and weaknesses
- Ensure that the selected coalition represents a cross-functional team with varying view points.
- Work on team building within the coalition.
- Develop a Learning program to provide key skills and support for this transformation team.
Phase 3: Create a Vision for the Change
Spell out the roles of each key staff member in your vision, and boil down your ultimate “vision speech” to one or two short sentences. Think of this as the marketing pitch for the change program. Your vision should reflect the values and goals you are after, and your staff should understand and be able to describe the vision. These words should be polished until you have a vision statement inspiring enough to energize and motivate people inside and outside your organization.
Phase 4: Communicate the Vision
Inevitably, competing communications within an organization can easily crowd out the goal and vision. To help keep the message at the forefront, frequently and powerfully communicate the vision. Talk about it often—using it daily to guide decisions. A change communication program is advised to function as “internal marketing”. Most importantly, lead by example. Make sure the top levels of the organization are following and shaping their behavior to meet the company’s desired mission.
Phase 5: Remove Obstacles
Put in a plan to identify barriers, and if necessary, hire and assign change leaders (“change agents”) who can continuously deliver on your mission. Provide recognition and incentives for those who are helping to implement the change, and help those who are struggling to adapt. If necessary, take action to remove the barriers preventing the process.
Phase 6: Generate Wins
To keep momentum going, look for sure-fire projects (low-hanging fruit) that can be successfully carried out, and preferably, pick projects that are inexpensive to implement. Finally, clearly reward those who are meeting the initial goals and celebrate those successful changes.
Phase 7: Produce More Change
To that end, continuously look for improvements, strive to set new goals, and keep ideas fresh by bringing in innovative ideas and leaders. Going back to “Generating Wins”, the process is iterative. The change management team must continuously reevaluate the program and make modifications to the strategy and tactics as more information is uncovered.
Phase 8: Make it Stick
To help change stick and becoming part of an organization’s fabric, talk about progress often. Recognize success frequently. Publicly recognize those who contribute so they feel valued. Finally, as key leaders who helped institute the change move on, create a replacement plan that will keep their contributions going.
Make change management easier.
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About the Author:
Joe Evans is the President and CEO of Method Frameworks, Joe is a published author, frequent speaker and recognized expert in corporate strategic planning . To contact Method Frameworks about scheduling Mr. Evans about an upcoming speaking engagement, visit www.methodframeworks.com/business-speaker or email requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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