by Rod Baxter, Principal, Value Generation Partners
Remaining competitive in today’s global environment means organizations must be nimble and able to implement change in strategy, structure, or technology quickly, and adapt to these changes effectively. Changing a current-state organization to a desired future-state organization requires solid competency in integrated change leadership. Change leadership is the act of leading and managing change; it is critical to the success of any operational excellence, transformation, or continuous improvement initiative, as well as to the overall health of a high-performance culture. Peter Drucker has been quoted as saying, “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.”
Most operational excellence, transformation, and continuous improvement initiatives fail to deliver desired results due to the absence of many of these critical change leadership elements:
- Leadership support, involvement, visibility
- Focus on and commitment to the initiative
- Clearly communicated and understood:
- Vision and reason
- Goals and expectations
- Details and plans
- Benefits and impacts to groups and individuals
- Sponsorship support at all phases of the initiative
- Qualified, capable project team managing all aspects of the initiative
- Application of project management rigor, discipline, and other appropriate methodologies
- Availability of necessary human, financial, and technological resources
- Adoption plan with extensive organizational involvement
- Training and skill development plan
- Measuring and monitoring results
- Adjusting, as necessary
- Recognition and celebration of success
Considerations for leading change:
- Lead by example
- Communicate, communicate, communicate
- Balance needs of individuals with those of the organization
- Provide vision, direction, and focus, yet allow individual freedom
- Gain support for the initiative from all groups impacted and from all levels of leadership
- Monitor and measure the change; learn and adapt when problems arise
- The more complex the change, the more persistence and patience required
- Don’t bypass the change process
- Adjust approach based on the complexity of the change
The benefits of change leadership include:
- Improved organizational effectiveness, compliance, and risk prevention
- Environment of skill development, learning, and personal growth
- Sense of belonging and employee engagement
- Silos and barriers do not exist
- Better and more inclusive understanding of the organization
- Inclusive, collaborative environment in which individuals with diverse experience, skills, and backgrounds work toward common goals
Change leaders – those who will assist in leading change because they perceive significant opportunity with little associated risk
Wait-and-seers – those who will change when they begin to see evidence that opportunity is increasing and risk is decreasing; this is the largest group of approximately 68 percent of individuals
Change resistors – those who will resist change because they perceive little opportunity with significant risk
The change adoption curve defines phases, impact, feelings, and adjustments individuals and groups go through when faced with change. Based on work by psychiatrist and journalist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the change adoption curve depicts four phases, which are necessary to understand and manage when leading a successful change initiative.
- Rejection – “This does not apply to me and, if I wait, it will go away”
- Resistance – “This won’t work and I’m going back to doing it my way – the old way”
- Acceptance – “This looks like it might work and may be even better than the old way”
- Commitment – “This way works much better than the old way, and it’s how I do things now”
The intent is to understand and use the change adoption curve, along with a change adoption plan, to reduce implementation time. Doing so will also reduce the change’s negative impact on the organization and individuals. It is important to note that the three change adoption groups will experience the four phases at different paces, and with varying degrees of negative impact.
- Develop and communicate the change initiative vision, reason, goals, expectations, plans, benefits, and impacts
- Identify a change initiative sponsor
- Identify and launch a change initiative project team
- Create project toolbox and charter with clearly defined deliverables, goal, scope, and success criteria
- Create project plan, schedule, stakeholder management plan, risk management plan, communication plan, and training plan
- Assess and plan the organization’s readiness for change using the template below
- While your change readiness plan template may vary slightly, it will likely contain many of the components found in the following example. This image depicts a basic change readiness plan template, along with its elements.
- Execute the change initiative
- Inputs to the change initiative may include RACI matrix, process maps, SWOT analysis, force field analysis, etc.
- Create a change adoption plan using the template below
- While your change adoption plan template may vary slightly, it will likely contain many of the components found in the following example. This image depicts a basic change adoption plan template, along with its elements.
- Monitor, measure, and adjust based on the planned benefits and metrics for success
- Acknowledge benefits and celebrate success of change implementation
Not all change initiatives are equal in complexity, nor do they require the same level of process to implement. Change initiatives will vary from those that are “just do it,” to those that are full organizational transformations. Use the process level necessary for successfully implementing the change initiative based on an analysis of its complexity and impact on the organization and individuals. Note: “Just do it” initiatives will likely require scaled-down training and communication plans to ensure success.
Value Generation Partners wishes you much success in leading change, thereby generating greater value in your organization!
Change Leadership is useful in combination with other LinkedIn Pulse posts found at this link.
Value Generation Partners is excited to announce the release of the must-have “Operational Excellence Handbook,” which is available at Lulu.com in paperback and eBook. Operational Excellence Handbook on Lulu.com
With the purchase of this handbook, the reader has access to a companion file, “Operational Excellence Toolbox,” containing all referenced templates.