The #1 Change Technique


Rowing technique

 

Are you leading change in an environment with significant resistance? Are you placing the blame for the resistance on “them”? Do “they not get it”?

 

Of all the change techniques available to us, the most fundamental and pragmatic approach is to bring the impacted stakeholders of the change into the problem space.

 

How many times have you seen a large change or transformation get strategized, designed, built, and then deployed with little to no impacted stakeholder involvement? These approaches are often sold with rationalizations like…

 

1) We don’t have the talent to deal with this complex a problem.
2) We need outside perspective, not the same old way of doing things that our current employees built over the last several years.
3) If we acknowledge this change now by engaging our employees, we’ll lose control of the messaging and people will resist.
4) Its a competitive advantage to not let people know yet. We’ll include them when we are ready.

 

Secrets kill change.

 

You can mitigate resistance by…

 

1) Including the appropriate level and number of your impacted stakeholders in the understanding of the problem.
2) Designing the change solution based on some but not necessarily all the input of the impacted stakeholders.
3) Making champions out of the star impacted stakeholders who demonstrate a passion for change and “the new way”.

 

Bring your impacted stakeholders into the problem. Define “change success requirements” and you will lower the resistance.

 

 

Decide Fast, Learn Fast, Win Fast


Ready to Unleash Your Transformation? Focus on Decision Making.

How many time has this happened to you? Its Monday morning, and you just logged into your weekly staff meeting when you get an urgent call from senior management. They want you to call them immediately, join their conference call or maybe even come to their office to discuss why your company cannot move faster with your projects, change, strategy execution, technology, process improvements, etc.? At least 3 times this month? It happens everyday, and it happened again today. The pace of your change needs to be faster. It will happen again tomorrow! So, what do you do? For starters, I propose you start with your decision making.

A company can only move as fast as they make decisions. The effectiveness of decision making is like the speedometer for your project, change initiative, strategic endeavor, etc. If decisions are slow, your transformation will be slow. If decisions are fast, your company will be able to move forward faster. Decisions create actions that translate into tasks for people in the company to complete. No decisions, no actions, no tasks, no completion.

DecideFastLearnFastWinFastIn Leading Successful Change, authors Shea & Solomon propose to change an organization you need to change behavior. They elaborate further to describe 8 levers of change, one of which they describe as decision allocation. Simply put, think of this as “who decides what, and where?” There are models available to help you structure the decision making process. I personally prefer the DACI model: Driver, Approvers, Contributors, Informed because it is simple and emphasizes accountability in the role of Driver to make the decision happen.

Before we go rushing off to “just make more decisions, faster”, lets consider some drivers behind slower decision making. When companies lack action, they are indecisive. Indecision can be caused for may reasons including but not limited to: not enough information, too much information, and unclear roles and responsibilities. Said another way, people hesitate to make decisions because they fear the decision will not have the required quality demanded by the company.

This balance of speed vs quality can be challenging. Consider the classic 2×2 above to assist with guiding actions to improve your decision making. If you find yourself with fast decision making, but low quality, focus on learning faster from your low quality decisions. If you find yourself with high quality decisions but too much time to make them, focus on deciding faster by embracing more risk.

Make no mistake, if you make decisions faster you improve your company’s ability to move forward faster. Have you heard the old saying “Win Fast, Fail Fast“? While it is very applicable in this context, I prefer “Decide Fast, Learn Fast, Win Fast”. If you make decisions faster, and they truly lack the quality you desire, engage your learning capability and dial your learnings back into a new decision to ultimately win faster.

Related articles

Tend to Your Goldfish


English: The fish bowl 日本語: 金魚鉢

As we turn over the calendar and enter the new year, many thoughts are focused on renewal. It is customary for our societies to set new goals and make new resolutions for the coming year. You may have already updated your goals or agreed your New Year’s resolution. Or perhaps, you have yet to finalize them. Either way, I hope you will allow some room for one more in 2013: Tend to your goldfish!

“The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anyone who wants it.” – Patrick Lencioni from The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything.

Metaphorically, think of your organizational health as the water in which the fish swim, where the fish are the employees and the water is the culture or organizational health of the company. If the quality of the water degrades, what happens to the quality of the fish? What needs to be done to maintain healthy water? How frequently do you need to tend to the water? The fish? What happens to the water when you add new fish? More fish? When do you need to get a new bowl?

Let’s extend the metaphor to our favorite topic of business change. Transformations that are big, bold, and daring compel the leadership team to be equally big, bold, and daring. Great achievements require great leaders! Now, take a deep breath. The good news is that every all-star, expert, or thought leader was a novice at some point in their life. The difference is that they found something and invested in it. I believe that we all have unique value to contribute to society, your company, family, community, etc. Within the context of a transformation, your call to action for 2013 could be to create your own single greatest advantage: organizational health by tending to the goldfish!

  • It is simple: Launch an employee engagement campaign in your office, department, or team. Ignite the fire and let it grow.
  • It is free: A smile, kindness, passion for our customers, honesty with ourselves, and being genuine don’t cost us anything.
  • Available to anyone who wants it: What you give out will be returned to you two times.

Your organizational health is in your hands. Don’t settle. Be a great leader every day, by growing a healthy organizational that benefits your customers, employees, and owners! In 2013, don’t ignore this. What can you do to grow a healthy organization for your company? How will you care and feed for the fish and the fish bowl?

Organizational Capability for Transformation


Navy File Photo - President of the U.S. Naval ...
Image via Wikipedia

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” – Admiral John Stockdale, USN.

How do you align the business with IT? How do you confront the reality of a business strategy when it represents a threat to the status quo? How do you align that direction with a portfolio of projects that incrementally deliver on the desired change? In order to transformation a business, company, division, or team, you need to assemble many disciplines and techniques including but not limited to: business strategy, enterprise architecture, project management, personal development, communication, and training.

There are many books, white papers, and commentary on business strategy, project management, change management, IT governance, and organizational design. However, I rarely see any transformational thought leadership that describes these concepts as organizational capabilities, or services that work together in unison. When teams have raised their capability to deliver multiple skills like this, they position themselves better for success.

In order to transform an organization, the organization needs to position itself for success by building the capability to change, or transform. Too frequently, leaders assemble only one or maybe two of the disciplines listed above to deliver significant change. Calling on Admiral Stockdale’s profound leadership, transformational leaders should have confidence in the 1 or 2 skills they have brought together to drive change, but they should also confront the reality that most transformations fail. Have you assembled all the skills and capabilities you need to be successful with your change? What additional capabilities does your team need to better position you for success? Confront your reality and adjust  your team to bring more transformational capabilities to the table.

New Website is Launched!!


3D Team Leadership Arrow Concept
Image by lumaxart via Flickr

As of this afternoon, a new website is up and running at www.businesschangeleader.com that represents all the best of a collection of Business Change Leaders. This new site represents a new firm, Business Change Leadership, that will offer business transformation, change management, leadership development, and additional services for companies that are looking for more from their business and technology teams. To learn more, please visit the site.

Most importantly, to kick-off our new company, we invite you to attend our workshop on Integrating Change and Project Management, scheduled for May 1, 2011 in Orlando, Florida in conjunction with the Association for Change Management Global Conference, as advertised in a previous post. This workshop will be co-hosted by a colleague of mine, Bill Synnot of Synnot & Associates. Bill has amassed a tremendous background of global experience over 30 years in the change management space. You can find the latest information on the workshop at www.businesschangeleader.com as well as the ability to register for the workshop using your Paypal account or credit cards.

We will continue to post blog entries here, but please be sure to visit the new website for updates and to stay in touch.

So, what have YOU transformed?


Looking south from Top of the Rock, New York City
Image via Wikipedia

At a recent networking event, a colleague of mine challenged me with a question that seems very appropriate to share at this time of year. “So tell me, what you have transformed?” Truthfully, it is a great question that makes one stop and think for a minute.

As we head into 2011, the employment headlines, American automobile sales results, and just about every other alert I get is telling me that 2011 is already going to be a better year than 2010. But let’s not leave anything up to chance.

If 2011 is going to be better than 2010, it will be because of what we do to make it that way. For those of us who are engaged in change management endeavors, business transformation activities, or just making things better in the future than they are in the past, ask yourself “What have you transformed?” And might I suggest that you be critical of yourself in the past and aim high in 2011.

Chief Change Officer (CCO) according to BusinessWeek…circa 2008!?


Peter de Reijke docent Implementation & Change...
Image by Hans on Experience via Flickr

Human Resources: The Big Issues – BusinessWeek.

I recently came across this BusinessWeek article thanks to an online acquaintance of mine at the Lead Change Group. The BusinessWeek article is dated from 2008 and states:

“First, one-third of U.S. companies anticipate installing a head of change-management, with authority and standing similar to that of a chief financial officer, by 2015. The position did not even exist a few years ago, and today only 11% of executives say their companies have such a position. That [anticipated] growth suggests the importance of managing change at corporations.”

This article leaves me with questions…

  • Are we on track to achieve this metric as a change management / business transformation discipline?
  • Do we care about this metric or do we care about the change results?
  • Given the business environment is there an argument FOR or AGAINST this formally defined role?
  • Is this a separate and distinct role from all the other “chief” roles?
  • Why can’t someone perform this role in the existing CxO structure?

While I suspect that many of us can extol the benefits of a role like this (from an academic business value perspective), I would argue that a business case for this type of role needs to be made. Put your CEO hat on, why would you dedicate this level of funding at this time in business outside of an existing role? I see the role of CIO morphing into the CCO as described by the quote from above, and I would argue strongly that your company needs these kind of skills, just not as an additional CxO at the table. Challenge your CIO to drive change. They need to have the business and technology insight to lead your company to greater achievements. Your CIO needs to understand the business, they need to then translate the business challenges into technology solutions that return value to your company. Adding a new role is tantamount to covering up the “flat areas” of your existing CxO team, which might be the best approach in the short term, but also forces you to take on a new set of challenges. Introducing a new CxO to the board meetings sounds like a change management need to me!