Getting Change Right - a personal top 5.
Updated: Sep 17, 2021
I recently started publishing a series of TikToks on the critical success factors to get Change right. (You can watch them under resources or on our YouTube here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1AvzIL0dB7Jwc7mbxaivbwRCvJZafyEK )
Here's a run down:
Find Your Rhythm! - This might not be a surprise, but it's something Change Leaders often fail to consider: Every organisation moves at it's own pace. This pace is typically determined by the organisational culture (hierarchical or flat decision making, number of people that need to be involved, workloads, etc) and your change effort should fall to an extent in line with that. Don't go slower than your organisation is used to, but don't overstretch your team's capacity for keeping up either. Understand your organisations preferred tempo for change and how much stretch you can put on that.
Keep it Real! - Creating buy-in is one of the most important skills of a change agent, however, creating buy-in is not the same as delivering a sales pitch. Buy-in is about engagement, it's a process of conversation, listening, aligning and collaborating and in that way very different to selling. In addition, if you are in a selling mode, there's a real risk of overstating the benefits and underestimating the risks and issues. There is no bigger buy-in killer than over-selling the benefits of a change.
Manage People Rather Than Tasks! - Agile Project Managers and Scrum Masters will know all about this, whereas more traditional Project Leaders can be at risk of falling into the task first trap. Delivering change is typically always connected to a project set up of some description. Now, projects get from A to B by completing actions that achieve the change, however, in my experience it's the small but important shift of focus of the project manager to enable and empower their team, to collaborate with the wider organisation and customer, to support problem solving and to recognise a job well done that makes working towards the stretch targets of a project achievable. Because by doing that you create an environment people actually want to work and deliver in, rather than an environment of ticking off boxes on a spreadsheet.
Don't Take Anything As Gospel! - In his book "Great By Choice" Jim Collins speaks of the core behaviours of leaders of organisations that are 10 times more successful than comparable competitors. One of those is what he calls "Empirical Creativity". In a nutshell that's the principle of coming to your own data driven conclusions and creating you own data instead of listening to conventional wisdom or looking for "a higher power" to answer your questions. That's a skill I found absolutely critical in delivering change and in particular innovation. Always be ready to challenge "the facts" you are presented with. Always dare to look behind the accepted narrative, especially when it's a blocker to change and innovation. The more analytical you go about designing a change, the better your chances to deliver a true leap forward.
To quote The Strokes: The End Has No End! - To say it with The Strokes: "The End Has No End." Alternatively: Stop thinking of change as something finite. More often than not delivering a step change project is the beginning of something. So, you want to make sure that in your sustainment phase you're building the capability for Continuous Improvement into your organisation. Ideally, you want to prevent finding yourself at the beginning of another big ticket transformation again in a couple of years, so the more you enable your team to make changes more or less autonomously all the time. Like this, you are building an organisation that is always growing, always evolving, always achieving bigger and better things.
If you want to know more about how we can help you getting your change right in your organisation, why not book a 15min consultation with one of our client partners?