For your change initiative to succeed, your stakeholders need to be willing and ready for change. Ensuring their readiness to change is an important part of both your change strategy and your organization’s culture. But how do you know if your hard work is paying off? How do you know if your people are psychologically ready to proceed with the change you are asking of them?
The journey of organizational change – especially transformation – is anything but a straight line. If you are making changes that are transformational, it is likely things will be unruly, unpredictable, and messy in the process. Because of this uncertainty, the best course of action is to plan your change and future state as best you can, and then establish a mechanism and process to course correct your plans and outcomes as you discover the need to do so. Transformational leadership is not about sticking to the rigid intention of “make the Plan; follow the Plan!”
How do you define success in your organization’s change efforts? Without giving this question much conscious thought, the change leaders, project managers, or the change consutlants may say “solve the problem.” Or “get the solution implemented.” Or “meet the deadline and budget.” These are all legitimate answers, and common ones. However, when you ask this question of senior leaders at the very beginning of their change initiative, their answers will shed light on how they think about change as well as the process they will support to get their outcomes.
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?
What is a Case for Change?
When you initiate a change in your organization, your stakeholders and leaders will have questions about what is changing, why it is needed, the scope of the change, its urgency, outcomes, etc. Great change leadership starts with your case for change. Your case for change answers these questions so your impacted stakeholders and leaders can understand the purpose for the change initiative.
Most organizations have many change initiatives occurring at once, in all parts of the organization, large and small – all making demands on people. Employees know they are being asked or pressured to change, but they often do not know why in terms that are meaningful to them. This makes it difficult for them to have a personal commitment to change. Leaders often interpret lack of employee commitment as resistance, but it is more likely stakeholders not understanding why the changes are essential to the success of the business, and importance of their role in it.
Photo Credit: Rich Faber
The absence of an overall initiative alignment and integration strategy results in change being run through multiple, separate, or competing sub-projects. It also results in initiatives being led as independent efforts, even when many may interface or impact one another or the same parts of the organization.This demonstrates a lack of sufficient alignment and integration among all the changes required for an overall change program. Without it, leading transformational change can be more like herding cats. What is needed is making them all a part of one unified effort with an overall change strategy that integrates outcomes, plans, resources, and pace.
Launch Your Change Initiatives on a Sound Foundation
Launching your change initiative on a sound foundation is essential to speed, cost containment, good stakeholder engagement, and to achieving your desired outcomes. We have identified several actions for creating a solid foundation for your change initiative:
Launching your change initiatives effectively is critical to ensure your highest probability of success. Effective launch minimizes the inertia and rework that saddles many change initiatives.
Many change initiatives struggle because multiple organizational change models and tools are at play simultaneously. Most organizations have invested in several ways of supporting change initiatives, including project management, change management, The Change Curve, Prosci, Continuous Improvement, Agile, and Lean Six Sigma.
Most organization transformation originates from executives, but executives cannot make transformation happen alone. Without the help of managers, employees and support staff, these big change initiatives tend to have very little success when initiated into the real world.
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