Change We Can Believe In

Change is inevitable.  Change is good.  Be the change.  Just because everything is different doesn’t mean that anything has changed.

Change is inevitable because tomorrow will be another day.  Change can be positive or negative but unfortunately,  change often brings with it undesirable consequences.  In my experience and observation,  change is frequently something that the powerful foist upon the less powerful.  Change based on self-aggrandizement or an opportunity to enrich oneself at another’s expense is needless,  damaging,  unethical and the source of much stress for its recipients.

On the other hand,  change can be a positive and life-sustaining process that we ourselves control.  When the changes made are an adaptation to a new set of circumstances that allow us to explore new people and places,  avoid a threat,  or capitalize on an opportunity,  then change is a blessing.  This kind of change helps us to grow and prosper.

No life or organization can escape the inevitability of change.  Our only defense is learning how to manage change as gracefully as possible by formulating plans to minimize the negative and maximize our access to whatever is positive.  Guiding change may be the ultimate test of our inner resources and leadership ability.  Please consider the following Critical Success Factors for instituting change,  developed by retired Harvard Business School Professor John Kotter and detailed in his 1996 book  Leading Change.

1.    Acknowledge or create a sense of urgency. 

  • Identify and discuss current or potential crises or major opportunities.

2.    Assemble a coalition to guide the process.

  • Recruit a team whose members have sufficient skill and power to lead the change initiative.

3.    Create a vision of what the change will bring.

  • Create a vision to help direct the change process.
  • Develop goals,  objectives,  strategies and action plans that will achieve and manage the change.

4.    Communicate and gain acceptance of the vision.

  • Employ all available methods to communicate the vision to those who will be impacted.
  • Teach behaviors that reflect the change,  demonstrated by the guiding coalition.

5.    Empower the coalition to create the vision.

  • Eliminate obstacles to the change: lack of understanding or trust,  administrative and financial constraints.
  • Reconfigure or eliminate all systems and procedures that can undermine realization of the change.
  • Encourage risk-taking and nontraditional ways of thinking and actions.

6.    Identify popular and visible goals that are achievable in the short-term.

  • Plan for visible performance improvements that can be reached in the short-term.
  • Acknowledge and reward guiding coalition members and others involved in achieving those improvements.

7.    Use the credibility and support gained from short-term successes to move forward and promote the vision of the change.

  • Increased credibility is the green light to change or eliminate systems,  structures and policies that do not align with the new vision.
  • Continually reinvigorate and reinforce the change process with projects and people who support and validate it.

8.    Institutionalize the change.

  • Articulate and communicate the connections between the change and the enhanced success of the organization.
  • Develop a succession plan to ensure the ongoing presence of leadership that supports the change.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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