"Over the years I have learned to rely on Doug's knowledge, competence and integrity and have observed his ability to effectively work with and develop a wide range of staff from senior software engineering leaders and seasoned mutual fund managers to young, web designers and engineers in a social networking start-up. "
VP and Chief Human Resources Officer
Constant Contact, Inc.
Leading Organizational Change
These are scary times for leaders of organizations across industries and around the world. Even before the global economic crisis there was the accelerating pace of globalization, the impact if the Internet, hypercompetition and countless other factors that test the ability of firms to meet the challenge of disruptive change. Leading change has become the "silver bullet" in seeking the final component of successfully managing strategy, process, people and culture in most organizations. Yet, studies by McKinsey & Co., AT Kearney, Ernst & Young and the London School of Economics and others demonstrate that over seventy percent of organizational change efforts fail. Given this daunting statistic, it's obviously important to understand the best practices in leading change.
We have deep experience in helping small, mid-size and large organizations successfully initiative and execute important change initiatives. Our planning and action is guided by an eight step model that builds on the published works of John Kotter, Dave Ulrich, David Nadler and others and shaped by our own experiences of designing and implementing change initiatives over the past 25 years. We have achieved measurable success with small firms such as Gather.com, XChange Software and the Digital Operations group at Sony Music and large organizations including Novartis (Ciba Geigy), GE, Bayer Consumer Care, Sri Lankan Airlines, MAS Holdings, and Abt Associates.
Our consulting approach is shaped and guided by the following eight step model.
Our work in this area is strongly influenced by our many years of experience, a thorough knowledge of the research and literature on change management and a deep understanding of the best practices used in leading organizations around the world. The following is a summary of those best practices.
Best Practice in Leading Change
- Sense of Urgency: Organizations who are most successful at creating change begin by creating a sense of urgency among all relevant staff. The less successful allow what is common nearly everywhere – to much complacency, anger, fear or uncertainty. The senior leaders in an organization are provided with ample time and support in changing their behavior and practices
- Guiding Coalition: Successful change initiatives create a powerful enough group of people to lead the change. This guiding coalition must have credibility, leadership skills, connections and formal authority required to drive the needed change and the group learns to act as an effective team.
- Vision and Strategies: In the best cases, the guiding coalition creates clear, simple, compelling and uplifting vision that paint a picture of the future state and is supported by a few clear strategies.
- Communication: In successful change initiatives all communication channels are used to broadcast the vision, strategies and future state. Additional information is sent through heartfelt messages, symbols and deeds. When this is done well, most of the relevant parties understand and buy into the change.
- Empowerment: In the best cases, there is s heavy dose of empowerment where key obstacles that block progress and acting on the vision are removed. Change leaders focus on bosses that disempower, inadequate information and barriers in people's minds.
- Short-Term Wins: In cases of highly successful change, people are helped to produce short-term wins which provide credibility, resources, and momentum to the overall effort. Leaders actively look for ways to obtain clear performance improvements and recognize and reward the people involved in these initiatives.
- Consolidation: In the best cases, change leaders through-out the organization make sure that any transformation sticks by using culture as roots. Success is achieved by insuring that new behaviors are rooted in shared values and in clearly demonstrating how the new behavior, practices or processes have helped improve performance.