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.

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Organizational Capability for Transformation


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“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.

Do you have white knuckles?


How often do you find yourself holding on a little too tight? Do you have a “kung-fu grip” on your project, program, responsibilities, transformation, and/or life?

In a recent exchange with colleagues, we discussed this phenomenon. Enterprise transformations have pros and cons and tendency to cause white knuckles more often than not. One of the pros is the once in a lifetime journey that these endeavors provide, and one of the cons is the once in a lifetime journey that these endeavors provide!

Enterprise transformations are launched with the goal of rebuilding companies through significant change. You might think having the right goals, organizational structure, products, feasibility to meet financial commitments, partners, go to market strategy, etc. are the key to your transformation. While all these are vitally important to the end result of the transformation, I would suggest that to truly thrive in these environments, you look inside yourself and embrace your own personal change on the following 4 levels:

  1. Intellectual – What is your capacity to deal with complexity, unexpected challenges, first of a kind problems, thinking on your feet, etc.?
  2. Physical – Quite simply, how healthy are you?
  3. Emotional – How do you deal with adversity, ambiguity, self-confidence, self-doubt, self-awareness, conflict?
  4. Spiritual – What do you believe? Who do you believe in? What are your life philosophies? From where do you draw energy?

Do you know if you are holding on too tight? How? Do you know when you are squeezing the life out of your project, program, teammates, friends, family? Enterprise transformations will undoubtedly challenge your capacity across these 4 personal levels. What investments will you make to change your intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual capacity?

If this resonates with you, you may want to check out Noel Tichy‘s famous book “The Leadership Engine”. In this book he describes that each of us lead based on three concepts: Ideas, Values, and E3 (emotional energy, & edge). Noel’s model is very useful, and put into practice can help you understand your personal leadership model, which in turn will help you navigate the intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual growth offered via enterprise transformations.

No matter what leadership model, or personalization you inject into your enterprise transformation, recall that it is unacceptable for any one person in a transformation to acknowledge that the enterprise is undergoing drastic change, but not them personally.

New Website is Launched!!


3D Team Leadership Arrow Concept
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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
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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...
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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!