After observing and working with senior sponsors of organizational change for four decades, we have seen the best and the worst. Are you a good sponsor? Are you doing what your change efforts need to be successful and sustainable over time?
We define scope of change for an organization as what must change—how broad and how deep in the organization—and who must make this change. A scope statement should include a clear definition of the various change initiatives within the effort as well as the people and groups that must be involved. For transformation to work, scope must attend to all the change required.
As CEO, you want answers. And when faced with the uncertainty of business transformation, you want answers fast and you want to trust them. However, when initiating and overseeing transformational change, driving too fast and too hard for answers is not a formula for success. In fact, it can be the very mindset and style that impairs it. Is your mind open to discovering what your organization and people need to succeed? Really open?
As CEO, you know time is money. Most CEOs want organizational changes to go fast. Unfortunately, rushing things beyond what is reasonable, or needed, will end up costing you….in results, do-overs, and partial solutions that don’t fit the bill. One of our clients bemoaned to us, “We never have time to do it right. We always have time to do it over!” Does this ring true for your organization’s change track record?
Assessing data about change at the beginning of a change initiative, during its execution, and post deployment is standard for most fields supporting change (i.e., change management, project management, continuous improvement, Organization Development, Six Sigma, and Agile).
Many organizational assessments have been developed to help monitor the status of change initiatives and people’s responses to change. Change readiness assessments are common, and you can also assess change impact, Red-Amber-Green Scorecards, change capacity, leadership styles, scope of change, degree of adoption, value of training, change health, and more.
These assessments take a significant amount of time and effort which begs a question: What is the real value they bring to change leaders and to the success of projects? Do they make a difference in how projects are led over time?
Do you have too much change happening in your organization? Is there too little meaningful oversight and capacity to handle it all well? Are your leaders living in their own siloed worlds and failing to consider the broader organizational repercussions of their change projects? Do you wish you had a sane way to get on top of it all and align your leaders to do what is best for the organization as a whole?
Now you have a way: the Enterprise Change Agenda. This is the most important change leadership system and process you can build into your organization at the top. With all the change happening in organizations today the Enterprise Change Agenda gives CEOs a clear and organized mechanism to get their arms around it all and lead it effectively. It is a key strategy for ensuring the organizational alignment of change.
For a new business strategy to be effectively executed, major changes will need to be made to your organization. This may mean implementing multiple strategic initiatives and sub-initiatives. Many CEOs will set these change efforts loose on the organization at the same time, on top of any change efforts already underway. If senior leaders think their Line of Business changes are necessary, they are granted the go-ahead.
Because each is its own separate change effort, they are staffed, budgeted, governed, and monitored as independent projects. The leaders of each effort may run their projects using different change models or competing consulting firms. Autonomy is not a bad thing, but it can trigger significant challenges for the business.
Sponsoring transformational change requires you, as CEO, to understand what makes people tick, both what ignites their passion and commitment and what causes them to resist change. It is also imperative to be strategic about the changes required in your organization’s culture—a key factor that will make your change sustain long term.
As the sponsor of major change, you have a critical change leadership role to play in your change effort – one that cannot be delegated to anyone else. After kicking off your initiative, you must stay involved and contribute senior-level strategic overview of the change process – all the way through to completion. Completion does not mean when you have deployed the change; it means when your stakeholders have fully adopted the change, are operating effectively in the new state, and the organization is realizing the full value of the change. Your involvement speaks loudly for your commitment to see the change through.
Major change in an organization, especially transformational change, demands that people change personally—how they think, how they behave, and how they alter their ways of working that the transformation requires to sustain its value to the business. Executives must understand the leadership behaviors required of them. Stakeholders will look to the executives to see, or more likely to test, if the change is real for their leaders. So, the first person who must demonstrate the validity of the change is you, as CEO!
Large, complex change – especially transformational change – impacts people and processes across boundaries (boundaries of role, function, process, and organization). Organizational transformation demands cross-boundary support among your top executives; this support is a non-negotiable requirement of success.
As CEO, it is your job to create alignment, commitment, and support in your top executive team to ensure they are individually and collectively doing all that is necessary to make your company transformation successful. This is key to your role as the sponsor of this level of change.
Your organization has embarked on a new venture which is going to require a lot of change. Of course everyone is hoping for the best – but please allow me to be frank with you now, to save you a lot of heartache, time, and money in your near future.