By Andy Goram, Associate Consultant at SaturnFive
The path for creating transformational change and alignment in organisations is well trodden. As John Kotter laid out in the “8 Steps For Leading Change”, today’s CEO’s are well-versed in the stages required to bring their vision of their new world successfully to life. But this path is littered with numerous examples of companies with partial or complete failed and sustained implementation of the dream.
Why? Is it lost in the early stages of establishing a sense of urgency, pulling the drive team together and creating a compelling vision of change? Possibly, but fire-starting isn’t normally missing from the CEO kitbag.
Effectively communicating their vision, encouraging empowerment to act and focusing on some quick wins to create belief, can be a sticky zone. It requires robust, yet simple governance frameworks that enable cross-functional teamwork, alongside a clear and deep communication strategy. Accelerator pods are a great way of getting quick wins going, but these actions need to be aligned to the longer-term vision to really benefit the change agenda; not just be a list of simple, quick things we could do.
We believe, because we see it often, that it’s the final steps in Kotter’s model, “Never Letting Up” and “Embed Into Culture” where companies run out of steam and fail to achieve sustainable, successful change. These are both firmly lodged in establishing lasting, behavioural change. It’s easy to stand up at a conference, deliver the big address, pat yourself on the back and move onto the next thing. You’ve put the ball in their court. Now they can get on with it and change will have been delivered.
Wrong. It might stimulate the start, but it won’t be the thing that gets your people to listen, make sense of it, personalise it and consistently deliver the new.
Successful change demands that all the leaders are aligned with the message, get out into the business, role model the change required, talk about it and how it is affecting the people. They must all question the actions, celebrate the good, encourage the effort, call out the bad, constantly reference the why behind it all and keep doing it. Relentlessly.
It’s tempting to look at the final steps as a gimme, but the reality is, that this is where the really hard work begins. Lasting change must become a cultural thing. It has to end up being “the way things work around here”, and that takes continuous, aligned effort to take the narrative from a compelling story to a new way of doing business. But if your people get there, you’ve changed the game.
Andy Goram is Associate Consultant with SaturnFive® and the owner of Bizjuicer, specialising in building strong brands through engaged and aligned people, customer experience, cultural and transformational change.
SaturnFive Consulting works with organisations to develop and implement their strategy so that they are well placed to exploit the benefits of a changing marketplace in a fast moving world. http://www.saturnfive.co.uk