Wednesday 14th Mar 2018
Most change programmes are poorly delivered.
Having delivered transformational change programmes for over 2 decades in all different shapes and sizes I’ve seen first-hand the mess companies can get themselves into as they try and land new IT systems, new performance frameworks or new vision, values and culture into the workplace.
But don’t just take my word for it.
Mckinsey state that 70 percent of change programs fail to achieve their goals, largely due to employee resistance and lack of management support. But when people are truly invested in change it is 30 percent more likely to stick.
Organisations most likely to be successful in making change stick are the ones that no longer view change as a discrete event to be managed, but as a constant opportunity to evolve the organisation.
Whilst business growth is optional. Change is inevitable.
And constant change is the new business as usual.
Senior leaders spend hours individually and collectively debating the strategic direction of their business, whether in response to opportunities or threats, internally or externally.
Having spent this time discussing, debating, building the business case for change they have personally (knowingly or unknowingly) worked their way through the three stages of the change curve, and have done the ‘WHY we need to change’ to death.
Now, here is their fatal mistake.
By the time they come to communicate ‘the change programme’ with their people the Senior Leaders have shifted, they’re moving forward now in execution mode focused on the WHAT and the HOW, and this is happening at the precise point when they start engaging with their people who are hearing this for the first time and are right at the beginning of the change curve.
You can see how this could play out…
They do a relatively poor job of mobilising commitment because they haven’t afforded the same discussions or buy-in time that their people need. They’re starting to feel resistance, but they’re not sure why because in their mind it’s now a done deal. The decisions have been made, we are set to go…execution mode again!
They don’t pay enough attention to mapping the transition with their people, from the current state reality to the desired end state, which effectively brings their people with them on the journey. They instead jump straight into implementation and wanting to realise the benefits. The resistance levels have gone up another notch.
Is it any wonder change doesn’t land effectively.
And you know what, it doesn’t have to be this way.
You can create a consistent, repeatable, approach to change ensuring you take your people with you on the journey.
It will give structure to your change.
But a word of warning. There are two pre-requisites to making it work.
The first is having in place Inspirational Leadership; the ability to translate positive intentions into tangible results. It’s about dreaming and then working out a plan and then working that plan to get to the dream. It’s an Attitude of ACTION.
The Second is Disciplined Execution and creating consistency of action and consistency over time. This is the difference that makes the difference. You can spend an eternity creating the best strategy and plan however you fall down on disciplined execution.
Which leads me nicely to my…
The change usually will originate from a response to a threat or a movement toward an opportunity, either internally or externally. But whatever the trigger, the reason for change must be articulated in a way that provides motivation for others to support the initiative.
Whilst it might seem obvious to the CEO, COO or IT manager why the change needs to happen, this must be translated so the employee, who is most removed from the decision making process BUT most impacted by the change, can make sense of it.
A critical part of the senior leaders role here will be that of Chief Storyteller, to connect your people with the ‘change’ story and the vision and purpose for the business.
The future should be expressed in such a way that it creates a positive picture of what the change will look like as you want your people to understand what they will be doing differently, when the change has been implemented.
In doing so, you create meaning to what they will do and how they will do it so they can find their own compelling reason to feel inspired, energised, and motivated to deliver their best work.
Gaining commitment to the change starts with building and communicating a compelling WHY.
You can’t motivate someone to do something they don’t want to do. Yes, you can exert influence, pressure or power but for them to truly commit they need to want to do it. After all it’s all about the WIFM factor – what’s in it for me?
Let me share with you the WHY Triangle; the WHY being at the base, the WHAT on the left side and the HOW on the right.
Now add a horizontal line two thirds of the way up your triangle with the word logic above the line and the word emotion below the line.
You see emotion is far more important than logic. Therefore when we communicate change we must appeal to the emotions.
I like to think of it as a pendulum swinging from side to side. Logic one side and emotion on the other. When explaining a particular point, use facts and figures to trigger the logic, then tell a story or paint a picture to tap into the emotion. You can use the process in reverse, tell a story and then explain the logic or facts and figures.
But the point is simply this…
It’s the emotion that creates the motion – moving the individual into action!
This is all about mapping the current state reality, the desired end state and the transitional checkpoints in-between. Let me use a simple analogy to bring this to life.
You’re on the London underground at South Kensington (your current state reality) and you want to get to Kings Cross (your desired end state).
You have a number of different routes and options to get you to Kings Cross so your first decision is which is the best route for me? Factors at play here could include time and speed of arrival, convenience (number of changes), preferred route, opinions of others.
You decide take the Piccadilly line, a direct line with 8 stops to Kings Cross. Whilst on the tube you continually check each stop as you come into the station (it’s a habit we all do it) and listen to the conductor as he or she announces the next station. These check-ins reassure you that you are on the right train to Kings Cross, and happily, with no surprises, you arrive at your destination.
Of course implementing a new IT platform is fundamentally more challenging than getting the tube across London (maybe not if its rush hour!) but the point is the same; know your beginning, know your end, know and map out your route and create your checks and measures to check your progress along the way.
This comes back to the pre-requisites of Inspirational Leadership and Disciplined Execution I mentioned earlier. Plus the requirement to continually reinforce the business case, stay anchored to the compelling shared vision, and communicate, communicate and communicate the WHY, the WHAT and the HOW.
It isn’t enough to implement change; the challenge is to keep driving forward, to shift old mind-sets and behaviours in favour of new, to replace old ways of working with new improved and efficient ways of working and to keep the vision for change alive.
To sum up quoting Tony Robbins ‘The quality of your life is often in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty and change which you can comfortably live with”
Set yourself and your people up for success, both personally and professionally, and confront the reality that change should be viewed as BAU (Business as usual).
With this in mind I propose Change Readiness is the new Change Management! I welcome your thoughts on this…comment in the box below!