“If you can’t communicate the vision to someone in five minutes or less and get a reaction that signifies both understanding and interest, you are not done.”
No doubt, change is important. As the business environment shifts, change brings innovation and vice-versa. Companies that successfully innovate in a repeatable fashion have one thing in common – they are good at managing change. Any company in today’s fast-moving environment that is looking for the pace of change to slow down is likely to be sorely disappointed. In fact, companies should embrace change. Change is important for any organization because, without change, companies would likely lose their competitive edge and fail to meet the needs of what most hope to be a growing base of loyal customers. Organizations change for a number of different reasons, so they can either react to these reasons or be ahead of them. These reasons include:
|Crisis||The most obvious example is the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center bombing which caused countless organizations, including entire industries such as airlines and travel, to change. The recent financial crisis obviously created many changes in the financial services industry as organizations attempted to survive.|
|Performance Gaps||The organization’s goals and objectives are not being met or other organizational needs are not being satisfied. Changes are required to close these gaps.|
|Technology||Without change, business leaders would still be dictating correspondence to secretaries, editing their words and sending them back to the drawing board, wasting time for all involved. Change that results from the adoption of new technology is common in most organizations and while it can be disruptive at first, it will ultimately increase productivity and service.
Technology has also affected how we communicate. No longer do business people dial a rotary phone, get a busy signal, and try again and again and again until they get through. No longer do businessmen have to laboriously contact people, in person, to find out about other people who might be useful resources – they can search for experts online through search engines as well as through social media sites. Today’s burgeoning communication technology represents changes that allow organizations to learn more, more quickly, than ever before.
|Customer Needs||Customers who were satisfied with conventional ovens many years ago are sometimes impatient with the microwave today. As the world evolves, the customer changes and grows, creating new demand for new types of products and services — and opening up new areas of opportunity for companies to meet those needs.|
|The Economy||The economy can impact organizations in both positive and negative ways and both can be stressful. A strong economy and increasing demand for products and services will mean that companies must consider expansion that might involve the addition of staff and new facilities. These changes offer opportunities for staff, but also represent new challenges. A weak economy can create even more problems as companies find themselves needing to make difficult decisions that can impact employees’ salaries and benefits and even threaten their jobs. The ability to manage both ends of the spectrum are critical for organizations that want to maintain a strong brand and relationship with customers as well as employees.|
|Growth Opportunities||Change is important in organizations to allow employees to learn new skills, explore new opportunities and exercise their creativity in ways that ultimately benefit the organization through new ideas and increased commitment. Preparing employees to deal with these changes involves an analysis of the tools and training required to help them learn new skills. Training can be provided through traditional classroom settings or, increasingly, through online learning opportunities. More importantly, organizations need to do a good job of evaluating employees’ capabilities and then taking steps to fill the gaps between current skills and the skills required to respond to growth.|
|Challenging the Status Quo||Simply asking the question “Why?” can lead to new ideas and new innovations that can directly impact the bottom line. Organizations benefit from change that results in new ways of looking at customer needs, new ways of delivering customer service, new ways of strengthening customer interactions and new products that might attract new markets. New employees joining an organization are especially valuable because they can often point to areas of opportunity for improvement that those who have been long involved in the company might have overlooked. But even existing employees should be encouraged to question why things are done a certain way and look for new ways to get work done faster, better and with higher levels of quality and service.|
|Regulatory or Reaction to Internal & External Pressure||Management and employees, particularly those in organized unions often exert pressure for change. External pressures come from many areas, including customers, competition, changing government regulations, shareholders, financial markets, and other factors in the organization’s external environment.|
|Mergers & Acquisitions||Mergers and acquisitions create change in a number of areas often negatively impacting employees when two organizations are merged and employees in duel functions are made redundant.|
Change management has been in existence for over half a century and yet despite the huge investment that organizations have made in tools, training, and thousands of books, most studies still show a 60-70% failure rate for organizational change programs — a statistic that has stayed constant from the 1970’s to the present.
Given this data, do you think it is possible that everything we know about change management is wrong and that we need to re-think our understanding of change management? Should we abandon Blanchard’s moving cheese, Kotter’s eight success factors, and everything else we know about engagement, communication, small wins, building the business case, and all of the other elements of the change management framework?
Dr. Kotter observed countless leaders and organizations as they were trying to transform or execute their strategies. He identified and extracted the success factors and combined them into a methodology, the award-winning 8-Step Process.
We may jump into plausible conclusion that we should rethink the basics, but let me offer observations: The principles and framework of change management is reasonably correct, but the “executive” capacity to implement it has been dreadful underdeveloped and over-rated. In fact, instead of strengthening executives’ ability to manage change, most-often-than-not organization outsource the change management program to HR specialists and change management consultants instead of taking accountability themselves — this strategy, if it is a strategy, often fails.
In my experience, there’s a pattern: In one of the companies I’ve worked with in the past, the company utilized existing managers and introduced few more of managers to a particular change management approach, while providing more intensive training in specific tools and techniques like six sigma and HR experts. As a result, executives became familiar with the concepts, but highly dependent on the “experts” to actually put together the plans. Ironic, right? However, eventually, change management just became one more work-stream for every project, instead of a new way of thinking about how to get something accomplished.
Obviously, not every company let’s its executives off the hook in this way. But if your organization (or your piece of it) struggles with effectively implementing change, you might want to ask yourself the following three questions:
- Do you have a common framework, language, and set of tools for managing significant change?
- To what extent are your plans for change integrated into your overall project plans, and not put together separately or in parallel?
- Finally, who is accountable for effective change management in your organization: Managers or “experts” (whether from staff groups or outside the company)?
As shown in the image above, Dr. John Kotter’s 8-step change model comprises eight overlapping steps. The first three are all about “creating a climate for change”. The next on “engaging and enabling the organization”. And the last, “implementing and sustaining change”. From experience we learn that successful change occurs when there is commitment, confidence, a sense of urgency or momentum, stakeholder engagement, openness, clear vision, good and clear communication, strong leadership, and a well executed plan. Kotter’s 8-step change model recognizes each of these characteristics. But first, we need to understand why change or transformation efforts fail.
Why Change (Transformation) Efforts Fail
According to Dr. Kotter, over the past decade, he has watched more than 100 companies try to change themselves into significantly better competitors. For example on how Ford have implemented Six steps are necessary to attain a cultural change for profits. These efforts have gone under many banners: total quality management, re-engineering, rightsizing, restructuring, cultural change, and turnaround. But, in almost every case, the basic goal has been the same: to make fundamental changes in how business is conducted in order to help cope with a new, more challenging market environment. A few of these corporate change efforts have been very successful but few have been utter failures. Most fall somewhere in between, with a distinct tilt toward the lower end of the scale. The lessons that can be drawn are interesting and will probably be relevant to even more organizations in the increasingly competitive business environment of the coming decade.
The most general lesson to be learned from the more successful cases is that the change process goes through a series of phases that, in total, usually require a considerable length of time. Skipping steps creates only the illusion of speed and never produces a satisfying result. A second very general lesson is that critical mistakes in any of the phases can have a devastating impact, slowing momentum and negating hard-won gains. Perhaps because we have relatively little experience in renewing organizations, even very capable people often make at least one big error.
Eight Errors of Change: Here’s what you did wrong
Error 1: Unable to Establish Sense of Urgency
I recently had a conversation with one of the executives of the aforementioned company and he shared to me how he wanted to change the mindset of the employees. Most of the employees are resisting change because they are afraid to get out of their comfort zones. For change to happen, it helps if the whole organization really wants it and it should start from the top. Executive must develop a sense of urgency around the need for change. This may help spark the whole organization to initiate motivation to get things moving. This isn’t simply a matter of showing people poor sales performance or talking competitive edge.
Most successful change efforts begin when some individuals or some groups lead by executives’ start to assess at a organization’s competitive situation, market position, technological trends, and financial performance. Focusing on the potential revenue drop when an important product or service expires or retires, the five-year trend in declining margins in a core business, or an emerging market that everyone seems to be ignoring. They then find ways to communicate this information broadly and dramatically, especially with respect to crises, potential crises, or great opportunities that are very timely. This first step is essential because just getting a change program started requires the aggressive cooperation of all, including vendors. Without motivation, people won’t help, and the effort goes nowhere.
Compared with other steps in the change process, phase one can sound easy. It is not. Half of the organization normally fail in this first phase. What are the reasons for that failure? Few example of these failures are:
- failure to identify the potential threats
- failure to develop plans
- failure to assess opportunities that can exploited
- failure to start a collaborative discussion and providing reason for change.
- failure to obtain support for senior management, stakeholders, regulators and customers
Sometimes executives underestimate how hard it can be to drive people out of their comfort zones. Sometimes they grossly overestimate how successful they have already been in increasing urgency. Sometimes they lack patience: “Enough with the preliminaries; let’s get on with it.” In many cases, executives become paralyzed by the downside possibilities. They worry that employees with seniority will become defensive, that morale will drop, that events will spin out of control, that short-term business results will be jeopardized, that the stock will sink, and that they will be blamed for creating a crisis.
Paralyzed executives often comes from having too many managers and not enough leaders. Management’s mandate is to minimize risk and to keep the current system operating.
“Change, by definition, requires creating a new system, which in turn always demands leadership.”
Phase one of transformation process is typically sluggish until enough real leaders are promoted or hired into senior-executive level. The change often begins, and begins well, when an organization has a new head leader and sees the need for a major change. If the transformation target is the entire organization, the CEO is key. If change is needed in a division, the division head is key. When these elected change manager are not new leaders, great leaders, or change champions, phase one can be a huge challenge.
Bad business results are great motivators for the first phase. Losing revenue catches people’s attention. Good business results make it harder to convince people of the need for transformation is much harder to sell. But regardless of scenario, in the more successful transformation, an individual or a group always facilitates a frank discussion of potentially unpleasant facts about new competition, shrinking margins, decreasing market share, flat earnings, a lack of revenue growth, or other relevant indices of a declining competitive position. Because there seems to be an almost universal human tendency to shoot the bearer of bad news, especially if the head of the organization is not a change champion, executives in these companies often rely on outsiders to bring unwanted information. Market analysts, customers, and consultants can all be helpful in this regard.
When is the urgency rate high enough? From what I have seen, the answer is when about 75% of a company’s management is honestly convinced that business as usual is totally unacceptable. Anything less can produce very serious problems later on in the process.
Error 2: Unable to Create a Powerful Coalition
- failure to identify true leaders in the organization, and as well the key stakeholders;
- failure to seek commitment from these key people;
- lack of collaborative effort and team work within change coalition;
- failure to identify team weak areas; and
- lack of good mix of people from different departments and different levels within the organization.
The change coalitions normally start with just one or two people and successful change coalition efforts, the leadership coalition grows and grows over time. But if not enough mass is achieved early in the effort, nothing worthwhile happens. Major change is impossible unless the leader or head of the organization is an active supporter. In successful transformations, the chairman or president or division head, plus another five or 15 or 50 active people, come together and develop a shared commitment to excellent performance through renewal.
In my experience, people don’t resist technological change because over time, people become comfortable with the knowledge they possess, the skills they have mastered, and the nuances of their jobs. This is what gives them a sense of competency. Transformation or change programs threaten this safety and security of tenure. Although some people thrive on a new set of challenges, others wince and feel vulnerable. Change, for them, means learning new skills and giving up the stuff they’re great at. Transformation challenges their competency. Unsuccessful transformation efforts fail because all of the company’s most senior executives won’t buy in, at least not at first. But in the most successful transformation effort, the coalition is always pretty powerful—in terms of titles, information and expertise, reputations, and relationships.
Regardless of organization size, a successful change coalition may consist of only three to five people during the first year of a renewal effort. But in large companies, the coalition needs to grow to the 20 to 50 range before much progress can be made in phase three and beyond. Senior executive always form the core of the group and sometimes you find board members, a representative from a key customer, or even a powerful union leader.
Because the transformation team includes members who are not part of senior management, it tends to operate outside of the normal hierarchy by definition. This can be awkward, but it is clearly necessary. If the existing hierarchy were working well, there would be no need for a major transformation. But since the current system is not working, reform generally demands activity outside of formal boundaries, expectations, and protocol.
Organization that fail in phase two usually underestimate the difficulties of producing change and the importance of a powerful guiding coalition. Sometimes they have no history of teamwork at the top and therefore undervalue the importance of this type of coalition. Sometimes they expect the team to be led by a staff executive from human resources, quality, or strategic planning instead of a key line manager. No matter how capable or dedicated the staff head, groups without strong line leadership never achieve the power that is required.
Successful change doesn’t happen unless open and honest discussions occur. Consequently, it can be a good thing to have periods of conflict which bring out the best (and worst) in people because a change leader will almost certainly emerge; someone who feels great urgency, pulls people together, and defines the coalition change team. Efforts that don’t have a powerful enough change coalition can make apparent progress for a while. But, sooner or later, the opposition gathers itself together and stops the change.
Error 3: Lacking a Vision
- What is our vision for the future?
- What change is needed?
- What do we need to do to realize the vision?
A good answer to all questions will help the organisation steer to the direction they wanted. However, so many change wannabes create false vision or no sense of direction for change. In every successful transformation effort, the coalition team draws plans of the future that is relatively easy to communicate and appeals to customers, stockholders, and employees. A great vision always goes beyond the organization’s five-year plans. A great vision always emphasizes the clarity of direction in which an organization needs to move.
Without a sensible vision, a transformation effort can easily dissolve into a list of confusing and incompatible projects that can take the organization in the wrong direction or nowhere at all. Without a sound and clear vision, re-engineering initiatives in the finance or supply chain department, the plant’s quality program, the new 360-degree performance appraisal from the human resources department, the cultural change project in the sales force will not add up in a meaningful way.
Failed transformation efforts most-often-than-not find plenty of plans, directives, and programs but no sensible and clear vision. In some case, an organization gave out four-inch-thick notebooks describing its transformation effort. Believe it or not, it’s in mind-numbing detail. The books spelled out procedures, goals, methods, and deadlines. But despite that, nowhere was there a clear and compelling statement of where all this was leading. Not surprisingly, most of the employees as mentioned before were either confused or alienated or threatened. The big, thick books did not rally them together or inspire change. In fact, they probably had just the opposite effect.
A useful rule of thumb: If you can’t communicate the vision to someone in five minutes or less and get a reaction that signifies both understanding and interest, you are not yet done with this phase of the transformation process. It is more effective, no doubt, to create a compelling, eye-catching situation, if it is easier for others to see problems and solutions. Creating a sensible and clear vision that can be conveyed in minutes is going to motivate people into action much more effectively than detailed books, manuals, plans and procedures ever will.
Error 4: Unable to Communicate Clearly the Vision by a Factor of Ten
In this phase, we establish a sensible and clear vision, what you do with that vision after you create it and determine transformation success. The message will probably have strong competition from other day-to-day communications within the organization, so the need to communicate it frequently and powerfully, and embed it within everything the organization does. It’s not a secret that good leaders are also good communicators. The key to an effective and successful transformation is good leader. Transformation is impossible unless hundreds or thousands of people are willing to help, often to the point of making short-term sacrifices. Employees will not make sacrifices, even if they are unhappy with the status quo, unless they believe that useful change is possible. Without credible communication, and a lot of it, the hearts and minds of the troops are never captured.
It’s also important to “walk the talk.” What you do is far more important – and believable – than what you say. Demonstrate the kind of behavior that you want from others.
Here’s the suggestion:
- Talk often about the change vision;
- Address peoples’ concerns and anxieties, openly and honestly.
- Apply the vision to all aspects of operations – from training to performance reviews. Tie everything back to the vision.
- Lead by example
As the leaders of transformation program, you are expected to effectively communicate to stakeholders, customers and employees. Here’s some mistakes you need to avoid:
- Not relatable.
- Lack of emphasis on your key points.
- Lack of good sense of humor.
- Not visible.
- Unable to adapt to any scenarios.
- Not actively listening.
- Not taking notes.
- Unable to tailor-fit communication style to each audience.
- Not asking before speaking
This fourth phase is particularly challenging if the short-term sacrifices include job losses. Gaining understanding and support is tough when downsizing is a part of the vision. For this reason, successful visions usually include new growth possibilities and the commitment to treat fairly anyone who is laid off.
Executives who communicate well incorporate messages into their hour-by-hour activities. In a routine discussion about a business problem, they talk about how proposed solutions fit (or don’t fit) into the bigger plans. In a regular performance appraisal, they talk about how the employee’s behavior helps or undermines the vision. In a review of a division’s quarterly performance, they talk not only about the numbers but also about how the division’s executives are contributing to the transformation. In a routine Q&A with employees at a company facility, they tie their answers back to renewal goals.
In more successful transformation efforts, executives use all existing communication channels (e.g. emails, intranet site, news-letters, and etc) to broadcast the vision. They turn boring, unread company newsletters into lively articles about the vision. They take ritualistic, tedious quarterly management meetings and turn them into exciting discussions of the transformation. They throw out much of the company’s generic management education and replace it with courses that focus on business problems and the new vision. The guiding principle is simple: Use every possible channel, especially those that are being wasted on nonessential information.
Communication comes in both words and deeds, and the latter are often the most powerful form. Nothing undermines change more than behavior by important individuals that is inconsistent with their words.
Error 5: Not Removing Obstacles to the New Vision
By removing obstacles such as inefficient processes or hierarchies, change leaders provide the freedom necessary for employees to work across boundaries and create real impact. One of the biggest obstacles to transformation is the dis-empowering executives. More-often-than-not people get the message about change initiative and they want to do something about it. But an elephant appears to be blocking the path for change. In some cases, the elephant is the group’s head, and the challenge is to convince the individual that no external obstacle exists. But in most cases, the blockers are very real.
Here’s the possible action plan:
- Send the manager on a short training course?
- Do nothing?
- Confront the issue?
- Sack them?
Successful transformations begin to involve large numbers of people as the process progresses. Employees are emboldened to try new approaches, to develop new ideas, and to provide leadership. The only constraint is that the actions fit within the broad parameters of the overall vision. The more people involved, the better the outcome. To some degree, a coalition team empowers others to take action simply by successfully communicating the new direction. But communication is never sufficient by itself. Renewal also requires the removal of obstacles.
In the first half of a transformation, no organization has the momentum, power, or time to get rid of all obstacles. But the big ones must be confronted and removed. If the blocker is a person, it is important that he or she be treated fairly and in a way that is consistent with the new vision. Action is essential, both to empower others and to maintain the credibility of the change effort as a whole.
Error 6: Not Systematically Planning for, and Creating, Short-Term Wins
Successful transformation takes some time, and a change effort risks losing momentum if there are no short-term (maybe a month or a year, depending on the type of change) goals to meet and celebrate. Nothing motivates people more than success. More-often-than-not people won’t continue the long effort unless they see compelling reason or evidence within 12 to 24 months that the initiative is producing expected and successful results. Without short-term wins, too many people give up or actively join the ranks of those people who have been resisting change.
Create short-term targets is as important as long-term goal targets. It is important to want each smaller target to be achievable, with little room for failure. The change team may have to work very hard to come up with these targets, but each “quick-win” produced can further motivate the entire organization, not only the change team. After one to two years into a successful transformation effort, you’ll see evidence of quality beginning to get better and climbing or the improve financial standing. You’ll see an evidence of people happily using the newly implemented enterprise application and adapting the new processes. But whatever the case, the win is unambiguous. The result is not just a judgment call that can be discounted by those opposing change.
“‘you’ll see an evidence of people happily using the newly implemented enterprise application and adapting the new processes.”
Creating short-term wins is not the same as hoping for short-term wins. In a successful transformation, executives actively seek for ways to obtain clear performance improvements, establish goals in the yearly planning system, achieve the objectives, and reward the people involved with recognition, promotions, and even monetary rewards.
Here’s the things you might want to watch out for:
- Look for sure-fire projects that you can implement without help from any strong critics of the change.
- Choose early targets that are expensive
- Not thoroughly analyze the potential pros and cons of your targets.
- Reward the people who help you meet the targets.
Managers often complain about being forced to produce short-term wins, but I’ve found that pressure can be a useful element in a change effort. When it becomes clear to people that major change will take a long time, urgency levels can drop. Commitments to produce short-term wins help keep the urgency level up and force detailed analytical thinking that can clarify or revise visions.
Quick-wins serve four important purposes:
- Provide an immediate feedback about the validity of new vision and strategies.
- Provide satisfaction to those working hard to achieve the vision recognition and encouragement.
- Provide assurance and confidence in the change project — attracting those who are not actively involved.
- Provide positive message to change detractors.
Having too many projects at the same time must be avoided because this ultimately leads to chaos and is unlikely to offer an quick-wins. Instead assess and look for the “low hanging fruit” — quick-wins that can be achieved cheaply and easily — and make these as visible as possible.
Error 7: Declaring Victory Too Soon
Dr. Kotter argues that most change initiatives fail because victory is declared too soon. In a previous phase, we learned that short-term wins are critical to successful change initiatives because they offer confidence, credibility, resources and momentum. In this phase is all about maintaining that momentum — not letting up — so the early changes are built on. At last, we learn to make change stick by nurturing a new culture by developing positive behaviour and shared values through a series of successful changes. It’s understandable that after a few years of hard work, executives may be tempted to declare victory with the first clear performance improvement. While celebrating a win is fine, as we learn in previous phase but declaring the war won can be catastrophic in colossal scale. Until changes sink deeply into a company’s culture, a process that can take five to ten years, new approaches are fragile and subject to regression.
Launching one new product using a new system is great. But if you can launch 10 products, that means the new system is working. To reach that 10th success, you need to keep looking for improvements. Each success provides an opportunity to build on what went right and identify what you can improve.
Here’s what potentially went wrong:
- After every win, not analyzing what went right, and not identifying what needs improving.
- Not setting goals to continue building on the momentum you’ve achieved.
- Not learning the idea of continuous improvement.
- Not keeping ideas fresh by bringing in new change agents and leaders for your change coalition.
Instead of declaring victory, change leaders of successful initiatives use the credibility and confidence afforded by quick-wins to tackle even bigger organizational issues. Assessing processes, systems and structures that are not consistent with the transformation vision and have not been confronted before. The change management team should pay great attention to who is promoted, who is hired, and how people are developed. The change team should include new re-engineering projects that are even bigger in scope than the initial ones. The change team should understand that renewal efforts take years, not months. On a scale of one (low) to ten (high), year one received a two, year two a four, year three a three, year four a seven, year five an eight, year six a four, and year seven a two. The peak came in year five, fully 36 months after the first set of visible wins.
The critical message from “don’t let up” is to create opportunity for innovation environment that empower people to take risks and deal with organizational issues without fear of reprisal. As discussed previously, removing obstacles is important: it provides people enough power and leeway to innovate and provide solutions to those intractable problems within organizations. Most if not all, successful transformation confronts embedded bureaucratic and political behaviors. We need to remove work that wears people down and work that has no relevance to today business environment. We need to free up resources and time.
“Change leaders must adapt quickly in order to maintain their speed. Whether it’s a new way of finding talent or removing misaligned processes, they must determine what can be done — every day — to stay the course towards the vision.”
The key to achieve success in this phase is to balance the change management with change leadership.
- Problem Solving
- Doing What We Know How To Do
- Producing Dependable, Reliable Results
- Establishing Direction
- Aligning People
- Mobilizing People to Achieve Astonishing Results
- Propelling Us Into The Future
Error 8: Not Anchoring Changes in the Corporation’s Culture
Finally where in the last phase of Dr. Kotter’s Change Model. Institute Change — to ensure new behaviors are repeated over the long-term, it’s important that the change team to define and communicate the connections between these behaviors and the organization’s success. Change sticks when it becomes “the way we do things around here,” when it is part of DNA of the corporate body. Until new behaviors are rooted in social norms and shared values, they are subject to degradation as soon as the pressure for change is removed as we learned from the previous example.
In institutionalizing change in corporate culture, the change team must do the following:
First is a conscious attempt to show people how the new processes, approaches, behaviors, and attitudes have helped improve performance. It is know that when people are left on their own to make the connections, they sometimes create very inaccurate links. As discussed in previous phase communication help people to see the right connections. Indeed, relentless communication to people, and will pay off enormously.
Second is take sufficient time to make sure that the next generation of top executives really does personify the new approach. If the requirements for promotion don’t change, transformation rarely lasts. One bad succession decision at the top of an organization can undermine a decade of hard work. Poor succession decisions are possible when boards of directors are not an integral part of the transformation effort.
We only highlights the eight big mistakes but there are still more mistakes that people make. We have to realize that in short blogs everything is made to sound a bit too simplistic. In reality, successful change efforts are messy and full of surprises. But just as a relatively simple vision is needed to guide people through a major change, a clear vision of the change process can reduce the error rate. And fewer errors can spell the difference between success and failure. It’s also critical that the organization’s leaders continue to support the change program. This includes existing staff and new leaders who are brought in. If you lose the support of these people, you might end up back where you started.
As an Information Security Professional, I faced the same problems and transformation requirements. Creating security awareness in an organization is as challenging any other change efforts. As Dr. Kotter and Cohen argue, a successful change leaders find a problem or a solution to a problem and then show people using engaging and compelling situations to change behaviour. Dr. Kotter and Cohen recommends a people-driven approach that helps people to see the reason and confidence for change. They argue that people change when they are shown the truth because this influences their feelings. That is, emotion is at the heart of organizations’ transformation. We see, feel, change:
- See – Compelling and eye-catching situations are created to help show people what the problems are and how to resolve them.
- Feel – Visualizing ideas evokes a powerful emotional response that motivates people into action.
- Change – The new feelings change or reinforce behaviors that make people work harder to make a good vision reality. The change is more immediate but must be reinforced to keep up the momentum.
To be successful in change or transformation program, the change team, the change champion, top-executives and stakeholder’s, and everyone in the organization have to work hard. A clear plan will build the proper foundation, implementing change can be much easier, and improve the chances of success. If they are too impatient, and if they expect too many results too soon, the plans for change are more likely to fail.
Create a sense of urgency, recruit powerful change leaders, build a vision and effectively communicate it, remove obstacles, create quick wins, and build on your momentum. If you do these things, you can help make the change part of your organizational culture. That’s when you can declare a true victory. then sit back and enjoy the change that you envisioned so long ago.
|1||Increase urgency||People start telling each other, “Let’s go, we need to change things!”|
|2||Build the guiding team||A group powerful enough to guide a big change is formed and they start together well.|
|3||Get the vision right||The guiding team develops the right vision and strategy for the change effort.|
|4||Communicating for buy-in||People begin to buy into the change, and this shows in their behaviour.|
|5||Empower action||More people feel able to act, and do act, on the vision.|
|6||Create short-term wins||Momentum builds as people try to fulfil the vision, while fewer and fewer resist change.|
|7||Don’t let up||People make wave after wave of changes until the vision is fulfilled.|
|8||Make change stick||New and winning behaviour continues despite the pull of tradition, turnover of change leaders etc.|
(adapted from HBR –Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail? by John P. Kotter)