“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”. – Socrates
Does Socrates have it right? Eyes forward, locked on the prize, abolish the old, and clamor forward with gusto to the new? We’d love to tell you he’s right, but experience disproves a lack of respect for the past and present. Change is constant, so we’ve come to understand. Change is often built upon good intentions. The goals are typically spot on; increase customer loyalty, reduce spending, release new products. So, why is the majority of major organizational change met with lukewarm results?
Change is not an event, it’s a process. Successful change is a well executed plan anchored in excellent design and steadfastness. Positive change thrives on nurturing those affected by it. By understanding the key stages of change, organizations can gain insight on the potential pitfalls and flex with agility to exceed potential.
Identify, Prioritize, and Prove
The tipping point of downhill consensus within an organization is right around 75%. To build velocity, people need to believe the change is the right action at the right time. Solomon starts with a business case detailing the risks of “not changing” in financial terms. If nothing is done, what’s the cost? What has the competition done? Most importantly, what do we stand to gain? When change is distilled into clear financial results, a broad coalition can be created to cast the appropriate level of urgency.
Gather a Coalition
Successful change requires a powerful team. Even a champion F1 driver needs a pit crew helping them achieve the ultimate prize. A strong coalition of executive supporters, sharing the same commitment, is critical for success.
Cast a Vision
Can a clear vision be articulated in five minutes or less to rally the support required to be successful? Solomon understands the battle is won in the trenches of communication. The ability to clearly craft and articulate a vision for “why are we doing this”? is paramount. We also believe that developing “guiding principles” is a powerful document that can be referenced throughout the change effort. As an organization approaches the cliff of change, the vision and guiding principles become the bridge to achievement.
We’re curious creatures, each and every one of us. When left alone, all 100 billion neurons begin firing, forming a kaleidoscope of creative tangents and questions. Effective leadership understands that communication is critical to nurturing change. We spend a lot of time anticipating what questions will be asked so that we’re ahead of the neuron race. Everyone impacted by change is thirsty for information. Our goal is to ensure we’re anticipating needs so that progress is unhindered.
The people affected by change are often the most critical to empower. Their ideas, properly channeled, will empower the design of an elegant and ultimately loved solution. Reaching successful change starts with the humility to ask the right questions and the steadfastness to listen for real answers. When people are heard, and they see their feedback being incorporated into the plan, the pride of ownership increases along with the quality of the solution.
There’s no time to waste in providing value. That’s why immediate wins are facilitated by an agile framework of constant delivery. It makes sense to land the least complex and most impactful initiatives first. How happy would people be if a five course dinner was delivered all at once? It’s human nature to proceed with caution. Nothing lowers the shields of resistance like meaningful wins right out of the gate.
Refine, Enhance, Celebrate
A frequent temptation when implementing change is to celebrate accomplishments too fast. “Mission Accomplished” anyone? There’s nothing wrong with celebrating immediate value and watching milestones fade into the distance. But, a rational approach to refinement and enhancement will drive a culture of unceasing value and adoption. And ultimately, a celebration of a finished solution that exceeds potential.