Three Simple Steps to Radical Change
Leaders change things. Leaders who can’t manage change fail.
Everything that successfully resists change dies.
“Companies that pursue and embrace change are healthy, growing, and dynamic organizations, while companies that fear change are stagnant entities on their way to a slow and painful death.”
Mike Myatt in, Hacking Leadership
Three steps in the change life-cycle.
#1. Identify the need.
The need for change is best identified in three areas.
- Current customers. What needs to change to better serve current customers.
- Potential customers. What needs to change to profitably create new customers.
- Corporate culture. What changes need to occur to better serve your current workforce … so that they can better influence items one and two above?
#2. Lead the change.
There are four typical responses to change.
- The victim. Those who view change as a personal attack.
- The neutral bystander. They go with the flow and fly under the radar.
- The critic. Those who oppose any and all change. Remember some critics are secret saboteurs.
- The advocate. Those who create momentum and enthusiasm.
Connect with all four constituencies. Involve all of them. Message properly to each. And, don’t let up.
#3. Manage the change:
Key players must control four critical elements of change.
- Alignment. Elevate those who understand and agree with the vision. Convert or neutralize those who disagree.
- Responsibility. Provide sufficient responsibility to advocates.
- Accountability. Expect change agents to deliver results.
- Authority. If the first three items are covered but the change initiative stalls, change agents haven’t been given sufficient authority.
Before you begin:
- Alignment. Align with values, vision and mission.
- Buy-in. At least one senior leader must champion the new initiative.
- Advantage. Identify the benefit.
- Due diligence. Bad ideas can sound good.
- Ease of use.
- Identify risks.
- The project. Change needs plans with measurable deliverables and beginnings, middles, and ends.
This post is adapted from, Hacking Leadership, by Mike Myatt.
How can leaders change things?
I absolutely agree! To quote Ray Kroc “When you are green you grow and when you are ripe you begin to rot”. People and organizations must look to continously improve.
Thanks David. Here’s to green!
While it may seem small point it is better to think in terms of core principles rather than values. Organizations get vitality from the core principles that energize them. Values are like fashion tends and change often with the winds of what’s popular. Align core principles (which are natural laws) with vision and mission.
Hey Roger, I am interested in your take on core principle vs core values. Could you give me a little more background or depth to this idea? Thanks!
Everything we believe, including leadership, will change when we change these 3 things…
– whose voice you listen to
– who you consider a hero
– whose counsel you will honor
Everything else will follow.
Thanks for this, Dan. Change should be broken down into 3 steps according to Lewin’s model: Thaw, change and freeze. Too often we don’t thaw and freeze well, then wonder why change efforts fail. Kotter’s body of work on change is a good complement to this model, as he further breaks down Lewin’s change model into 8 steps, and highlights the dangers of complacency, and Jellison provides great insights into how to overcome resistance to change.
I like to add two steps prior to Kotter’s model by asking 2 simple questions:
1) Is this particular change necessary and right at this time? 2) Why do I want change?
Since change is unsettling and uses scarce and valuable resources, managers should never undertake change initiatives for their own advancement or to leave a legacy. Change should be undertaken to respond to existing or expected environmental pressures for the good of the organization and its stakeholders.
Change should be continual, with a constant look forwards. One of the worst messages to send is, “We did it! We’ve arrived!”. That breeds complacency. A leader should say, “We’ve done something difficult and worthwhile. Now we have to do X, Y, and Z”. The leader must be able to see and plan for the future, while managing execution of the present.
Change from the middle and the bottom should be encouraged, but with the understanding that it requires alignment with organizational purpose, that scarce resources will necessarily mean that change will need to be prioritized.
Changes to tactics, processes, and procedures should occur constantly to foster continuous improvement. However, they should be tested, documented, and communicated systematically in order to avoid chaos.
Organizations should be very careful when contemplating change to strategy, mission, or business model to avoid floundering, and altering brand image. Wal-Mart and Saks Fifth Avenue are very different organizations. The same is true of World Vision and the Salvation Army, and of Ferrari and GMC. Leaders should understand their business model and strategy, and ensure they are aligned with organizational purpose, then stick to the model.
And your point is? Is this just a vague pla of leading change?
Wait… I actually read it. Dang this is like a battle plan. Holy Spirit. haha,
Well change is interesting, ain’t it?
Greatly resisted, but one of a couple of absolutes!!! Go figure!
For me accepting the inevitable is a cool place to start. All pain starts with attachment. If I am not attached then it won’t hurt if I do not have whatever anymore.
The personality types above in my experience are me at different times of any particular day. There is some of the best and worst in me. What expresses itself depends on the story I am telling myself at that time. Owning that for me is pretty important. No self honesty, all bets are off.
Will say if Mr Myatt thinks customers come before cultures in my opinion he is mistaken. If the culture is not right the customers do not matter.
We can only give what we have, what we give ourselves. It has not been my experience with crappy culture the most awesome customer service is delivered. Crappy culture, crappy customer service. How we treat others will extend to customers.
Or one might have a great enthusiastic fella treating people great, generating oxytocin everywhere they go. Then the customer experiences being treated crappy from others in the company.
One bad experience and the hill is huge and the incline steep.
Anyways if I win a copy of this fellas book I will be very interested to see examples from places he worked and the changes he was a part of.
Reading experience pretty cool, reading theory, not so much.
The Dude Abides
SP back to making copies, of oxytocin
Leaders have to recognize where the status quo has paralyzed existing management personnel and understand the tremendous effort it can take to instill the urgency of change; particularly when things have not yet gotten bad enough yet. In some cases you may have to clear out the weeds of resistance (passive or active) when the mindset can’t be shifted (I.e. Get off the bus if you don’t like the new direction).
Just as important is to have a change board that includes individual contributors who are trusted in the org (have credibility to speak truth to power) and have the vision of good leadership skills (good leaders don’t have to be leaders of teams in all cases). If the change is led by nothing but managers there’s a very slim chance the change will ever be fully realized.
Great practical advice that may be applied to multiple situations.
I appreciate your steps for change. Though you have discussed all the steps but I see something different along with steps suggested. They are addressing, initiating and inspiring. Addressing the need to change is the important component. People should know the reason why organization need change. Many times, people resist not because they do not want change, but they do not understand the need for change. During cultural integration, it is one of the biggest challenge for leaders. Secondly, as you rightly mention about connecting people with change. Once they accept it, they own it and connect with change. Leaders should initiate/lead change. By doing this, they influence environment and thus it inspire others to follow change.
In the process of change, people see the face of leadership. If they do not accept the leadership, even after addressing the need can be a challenge. When they see the leaders credible and person of words, it becomes easy to connect with others.
Therefore, I believe that change is the face of leadership. People see leader that determines the difficulties level in accepting change.
Change is like the river ever flowing. Resistance to change is like paddling upstream.
Brings to mind a William Bridges quote, “It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions.” Appreciate the steps in the change life-cycle.
The super-vision and future-vision of leadership makes change and the adaptation to change inevitable. With great respect to this substantially brighter audience than myself, I respectfully submit 3 ideas I have as considerations for caveats for change: 1) Changing everything or changing nothing; 2) Mere change is not growth. Growth is the synthesis of change and continuity, and where there is no continuity there is no growth; and 3) The word “custom” in the term “customer,” which connotes a long-held practice and reason why persons not only patronize a business or organization, but trust and rely on that entity.
I think the same is true of our staff–which is why enacting and integrating change is surgery, and why leadership is a profession.
Liked the three logical steps while bringing any desired change in any set system. Inspire people to believe you in the future that you visualize, show the path and then leave things for them to manage with quantification of deliverable.
The success ingredients will also include taking tough decisions in time, investing in people & technology and monitor the progress with targeted winning posts.
Leaders have to be foresighted and bold enough to push things of their conviction. Resistance to change needs to be handled wisely by creating a core team of go getter!.
it seems to me that there is a cycle in this, when I was young, it would take a generation for a company to begin, florish and then decline. Then in the beginning of Apple, it was about seven and one half years, and now it is even shorter. Even so, it seems that innovate, grow, refine and then innovate, grow, refine – a bit like seasons… Maybe driven by ROI, to abandon things that work to soon seems like waste.
Excellent post Dan and great contributions today…many thumbs up.
The PDSA (plan, do, study, adjust) cycle seems to align with Identify, Lead & Manage, which might also include…lather rinse repeat…keep doing it.
Might also emphasize that your advocates may be more than advocates, they might be considered champions of the cause or change. Often they are stuck between those entrenched and the need for change, so much support, brainstorming, and contact needs to occur to keep successes rolling.
Finally, that old pace and timing is key with the very tailored messages to the victims, the gawkers, the critics, and advocates again. People may not hear the message, the need, the urgency, the ‘why’ for the first few times you say it and then it may smack em in the face. Sometimes it also feels a bit like the steps of K-R’s grief sequence: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance
Thanks for another insightful blog, Dan. It’s especially timely for our organization as we are in the midst of change to part of our core business right now. It has proven useful to share these blogs and the responses with my management team.
Another timely and great post! Great ideas to think and mull over.
Very good post, I would like to see something that addresses dealing with people who fight change, because often it seems like they sabotage progress.
Jellison’s book, “Managing the Dynamics of Change” http://www.amazon.com/Managing-Dynamics-Change-Productive-Workplace/dp/0071470441/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1388166427&sr=8-1&keywords=jellison+change
provides an excellent treatment of why resistance to change is natural and how to deal with it.
Great post as usual. Leaders should always see all aspects of the situation. That is what I think separates the good leaders from the great ones.
How do you neutralize those who disagree with the change without becoming manipulative?
I’ve found it useful to do the following:
1) Try to discern the “why” of resistance. Is it fear, defiance of authority, apathy, resistance based on experience with failed previous change initiatives, or other?
2) If fear, listen. Don’t counter with “don’t worry, everything will be OK”. Counter with, “Thank you for sharing your concerns. I, too, am concerned, but I really think the change will be worthwhile, and here’s why. Let’s identify risks, and find mitigation for each.
3) If defiance of authority or apathy, don’t confront directly. Instead, ask for help in small things, then progressively bigger ones. Nothing breaks down apathy and resistance like activity. If defiance of authority breaks down the group’s ability to make necessary changes, remove the person from the group.
4) If the resistance to change is due to experience with failed change initiatives, acknowledge the failures, then ask “Is the end goal worthwhile?” If the group doesn’t believe it is worthwhile even with sufficient information, then don’t make the change. If the group does believe the end goal is worthwhile, then ask for their help in planning and executing the change so that it won’t fail. Celebrate successes during the change process, and build change upon change.
Wonder if the corollary to discerning why is helping to define WIIFM…what’s in it for me. Perhaps that has not be fleshed out completely. As you noted Marc, the fear is also a major factor that can have an array of causes…failure, loss of power, embarassment, etc.
One could just simply choose not to waste time.
Be a magnet for those who have what u want or waste your time and others time trying to convince them of ur ideas. Be as repulsive to those who do not believe what u believe as humdy possible. Being nice wont sway others who do not believe what u believe. Just wasting time, move on.
One big problem I see is we got too many people not working with the right people. Everybody diametrically opposed working at the same place.
That is the problem and sorry but nothing is really gonna help.
At some point don’t we just punt and realize working with people who believe what we believe is just simpler?
That starts in hiring people who believe what U believe. Start wrong not gonna work out.
U can try everyway every lunkheads suggests to do the impossible or just realize if you are working with folks who do not believe what u believe it is ALWAYS gonna be a struggle.
Just like my opinion based on my experience.
The Dude Abides
SP back to now
Here’s an idea Randy to your question. First listen to their disagreement and work to understand their points. This is not about agreement it is about hearing and being heard. Then you can both enter a conversation about the change.
Mike Myatt’s premise is on solid rock! So his findings are trustworthy and worth deep consideration. Thank you Mike!
Love it!! Going to tape this to my office door…
Good points. Easier said than done. Sometimes changes are too challenging and it may take down the leader. How to keep motivated when fighting against flow?
In the area of leading change we witness one difference between a leader and a mere manager. Real leaders don’t always have the title, but they have influence.
Thanks for sharing your insights. Managing change can be a challenge for many leaders and your article outlines an effective approach for creating and managing such change. I am reminded of a quote by Jimmy Dean, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
There is only one way to encourage change and that is to model it. Lip service doesn’t count.
There is a response to change that is not covered, and that I believe is perhaps the hardest to deal with:
Those who publicly agree with the change initiative, but by their actions either revert to the old way, or worse passively work against the change.
I like how change is broken down into smaller and more manageable steps. Too often people are afraid of change and this provides a way to make it ‘easier’ to tackle. Thanks!
Reblogged this on Movers, Shakers, Leadership Makers.
Here’s a different take on this important topic! Namely, that in addition to looking at the steps leaders should take for successful change, change leaders should also consider their unique style to leading change. In my experience, so often what looks like “resistance” in others is that change leaders aren’t giving people what they need to want it, to get it, and to be able to do it. In other words, not leading with their Hearts, Heads, and Hands:
◾the Head—focusing on the big picture goal, the business objectives;
◾the Heart—personally connecting with your people at an emotional level; or
◾the Hands—providing teams tactical tools and skills like a savvy project manager.
When I coach change leaders, I encourage them to leverage their strengths, as well as shore-up their blind spots. One way a change leader might find out what’s “missing” is to observe their people:
◾Are they working really hard but misplacing their efforts? You may need to be more Head-oriented and paint a picture of the target and explain the what and why of the change.
◾Are they unmotivated, indifferent, or even afraid? You may need to add more Heart and share your own story, build trust, and show them that working together as a team benefits them and the rest of their peers.
◾Or are your people paralyzed, like deer in the headlights, and can’t seem to get unstuck and into effective action? If so, they may need a heavy dose of Hands, and you may need to set a plan, process, and skill-build to guide their efforts through the change.
Change can be hard, scary, and intimidating – and not only for the “targets” impacted by the change, but also for the change leaders themselves! Focusing on ourselves as change leaders – our behaviors, in our direct and personal control – can make us more competent and confident – and less stressed and frustrated – in this critical role.