Many people have asked me what are the keys to successful organizational change? The kind of change that will actually stick? This happened most recently late in the spring, when I facilitated a workshop on this topic at the American Society of Quality (ASQ) annual Cowtown Roundup in Fort Worth.
The best-selling business book I co-authored with Bill Lee, Organizing Change (Jossey Bass/Pfeiffer, 2003) had three guiding principles:
inclusive – involve as many people as possible, and as deep in the organization as possible, in that it is difficult to not support a change initiative you helped create
systematic – follow a logical set of steps to phase in the stages of the change initiative.
systemic – consider the impact of the change initiative on other units of the organization, as well as other organizations, consumers, and other environmental factors, and not just your own.
However, the first step is do not announce the change initiative! Never begin change with the change. Acknowledge the problem. Investigate. Discover. Observe. Ask questions. Listen. Learn. In some cases, a problem does not even warrant a change. In others, after conducting such due diligence, the change initiative that you actually promote may be entirely different from what you originally thought.
In other words, go slow. Be thorough. Find out what is going on. Many change initiatives fail because they are simply not proper and appropriate for the purported problem they are intended to correct.
When Bill Lee and I wrote Organizing Change (San Francisco: Pfeiffer-Jossey Bass, 2003), we did so from a large-scale perspective. Our premise was that it is easier to consider change from a high-level such as a one that affects an entire organization, then, whittle it down to whatever level you want to use, such as a division, department, or unit.
While the magnitude of a change may differ by size, the principles do not. As you read our book, you will find three major concerns that you want to be aware of for any change that you lead or initiate. These are to be:
inclusive – go as deep as possible in the organizational charts of the areas affected by the change; get input from as many people as you can; it is difficult to argue against a change you helped create. Remember what Covey said years ago – “without involvement there is not commitment.” Make the change “our initiative” not “mine.”
systemic – consider how the change will affect all types of stakeholders; consider other departments or units in the organization, internal and external customers, consumers, and so forth.
systematic – organize the change phase by phase; decide who does what when; get it right the first time, and you will not lose productivity while kicking off the change initiative.
When you lead change, you are in the driver’s seat, not the passenger’s seat. You make decisions that craft and create important paths that various stakeholders take to solve a problem, correct a difficulty, or make something that is “good” even better. What is important, however, is to know that you never begin with the change initiative. You always begin with the recognition of a problem, issue, or uncomfortable situation. That principle will remind you of John Kotter’s first step in his change process, which is URGENCY. In fact, he wrote an entire book about that step, which you can purchase a synopsis of from 15MinuteBusinessBooks.com.
It is amazing how many people I have taught this process to in professional workshops and courses over the last ten years. I remember the first one for Citi so well, as if it were yesterday. Right now, we have two weeks to go in the MBA course “Leading Change” at the University of Dallas College of Business, where I use this book and teach practical implementation of the process. In this course, we don’t talk about change – we make change.
I know it works. We would not have had this many interested people if the process were unsuccessful. Fortunately, I hear back from so many individuals who implement the program in their organizations, that I am inspired to continue to share it with others.
At Creative Communication Network, we offer two paths for change. We do this in workshops, consulting, and coaching for both paths.
Take MANAGING CHANGE
if you want to:
Cope with change you didn’t create
Work in a change-friendly environment
Reduce personal anxiety about change
Produce an environment of freedom
Look for positive changes to implement
Take LEADING CHANGE
if you want to:
Reduce the impact of a problem
Design an organized change initiative
Gain commitment by influencing others involved in the change
Boost the positive impact of change on those affected by it
Measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the change
We’re really excited about these programs. We will be going into companies as well as conducting public workshops. Complete information, including agendas, outlines, objectives, pricing, and other details are available by calling (972) 980-0383 or sending an e-Mail to:
Don’t wait! Join the fully satisfied individuals from many organizations who have benefited from these programs.
Here is how to get the book that we use in Leading Change. It is now a print-on-demand book directly from the publisher. After you get it, you can contact me for the templates that are featured within the book. This is the link to use: