In a previous article, we discussed the level of change management required for a company to achieve true transformation. Just as a reminder, the mutually inclusive elements include:
- Employing an Enterprise Change Strategy
- Developing Your Change Management Framework
- Enhancing Your Change Leadership Capabilities
- Growing Organizational Competency for Change
Thinking in terms of these key elements, we can see how organizations mature their change management competency from immature or nonexistent through institutionalizing change management, to making it a strategic advantage of the company.
This progression is not necessarily linear. Many companies start off quite capable of responsive change, but with growth become siloed and less agile. At some point, however, realize their position and begin the long road back to responsiveness.
Most companies we encounter in our DX practice are somewhere in between “Isolated Application” and instituting “Project Level”. And, the difference between “Project Level” and “Enterprise Level” change management is the difference between building a building and developing an entire city.
So, how can an organization move to “Enterprise Level’ maturity, and fast? Before we can answer that, there are other questions that need answers first:
What is the scale of the organization?
What is the level of expected disruption?
What is the leadership’s attitude toward change management
What investment are they prepared to make?
How independent are your advisors?
What tools and measures are in place?
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Two summers ago, my family and I went on a backpacking trip in the Olympic National Forest in Washington state. The trip started as a potential idea, then we did a large amount of research to determine the most interesting trails to hike, and we mapped out a path. We created a packing list and determined what backpacking and camping gear we already owned and what we needed to buy or rent. We planned our route and the distance we would travel each day, so we could plan where we would stay. As the trip grew closer, we had to change direction and find another location to hike, due to weather and a problem with bears becoming too comfortable around humans. We had two objectives for our trip: have a great time as a family and hike two days along the Hoh River trail and then head back out for the remaining two days. This ensured we were able to stop and camp at specific locations along the way. Because we planned ahead it paid off and we had an awesome family vacation.
Planning, including planning for a business transformation, does not guarantee success. An example of failed transformation is the American automobile manufacturer. They were unable to distinguish their brand during a highly competitive environment against foreign car companies who forced cost and fuel efficiency battles. Their transformation methodology focused on cutting costs but resulted in brand confusion.
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One of the greatest challenges of helping organizations with Change Management is that they often believe they are already doing it. After all, if you have a good leadership team that communicates with employees, they must be capable of leading change.
But when you dig down and ask the leaders what they are doing to ensure their organization is prepared for and executing change strategies, we often find clear indications either they do not truly grasp change management, they do not understand the risks, or that their program is not robust enough for to handle the change.
Learn what are the 10 red flags
How would you adjust to transferring from a self contained organization with a command and control leadership style to one with a distributed leadership style? How would you adapt? How would you prepare? And how would you be received?
This is exactly what happened to me when I reported to be the Chief Engineer onboard the USS Santa Fe, a fast-attack, nuclear submarine based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
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Sadly, I’ve watched many centralized change teams (e.g., Lean Offices, Agile Groups, Morale Committees) die organizational deaths. Much of the suffering prior to their demises has been at their own hands, though I doubt they would ever see it that way. Hence, I offer my perspective as another version of the story that may prompt self-reflection and learning. I’ll focus on three main ways that a change team dies, which include coercion, lag time and a focus on self. Afterwards, I will offer a potential solution of implementing employee empowerment, while minimizing business risk.
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Have you ever had a thought turning in your head but were unable to describe it? And then someone turns a single phrase and you jump, “That’s it!” This happened to me on a recent trip to Europe.
For a while now, I have been looking for something to describe an intangible capability that great, transformational leaders have that the rest of us seem to lack. Until now, it has been hiding behind concepts like vision, charisma, and purpose laying just out of reach. Then, while listening to an online course on the Italian Renaissance the lecturer referred to the concept of the “energizing myth,” and I was inspired.
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“However, as the pace of change accelerates, the challenges we face are becoming less and less predictable.”¹ To many organizations, the norm has become not knowing what is happening in their markets. According to ResponsiveOrg’s Manifesto, the following are tensions which most organizations must evaluate today, which you can see for yourself at http://www.responsive.org/manifesto:
I have pondered these ideas and thought about their implications, and even started some dialogue about the topics on their group-wide Slack that has almost 2,000 members.
My main preoccupation was with the idea, “Why would planning generally be considered the opposing force of experimentation in the manifesto?”
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Like it or not, most people have inherent biases, certain opinions or judgments which have developed over time, which affect relationships within the workplace. Like complacency, strong opinions and biases can plague friendly business relationships and great customer service. Office politics can become a true stumbling block for project communications and organizational effectiveness. A lack of organizational transparency discourages innovation and achievement. From this behavior, collaboration and team dynamics can be strained creating a negative corporate culture, ultimately affecting your clients. Getting buy-in from leadership to be transparent within the organization, setting a standard, and uprooting negative habits when they occur can change the corporate culture for the better. Charles Zulanas, Senior Consultant for MSS Business Transformation Advisory, shares many articles from around the web that offer advice on how to overcome biases in the workplace that could be beneficial for overcoming office politics as well as generational gaps.
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We’ve all watched the docudramas and YouTube videos – The suspect is speeding away believing he can out-run or out-smart the police, the officers in chase call for the deployment of the spike strips, and soon the tires are flat and forward motion has stopped or greatly degraded. How is the spike strip relevant to the business world? Keep reading…
As spike strips are to tires, complacency it to an organization: it deflates innovation, stifles creativity and impedes or stops the organization’s forward movement, what we call Transformation. This can occur at all levels in the organization or, in its most damaging form, it can afflict the organization as a whole. We’ve seen the impact of organization-wide complacency: Motorola’s comfort level with analog and refusal to embrace digital; Nokia snubbing the touch screen on mobile devices; Circuit City, Sears, K-Mart, the list goes on and on. These corporations were once leaders in their industries!
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Could decision fatigue be a reason why your business is thriving, stagnating or failing?
In part 1 of his 3-part series on decision fatigue, Charles Zulanas, Sr. Consultant for MSS Business Transformation Advisory, describes ‘decision-making fatigue’ and how customers who have too many decisions to make can feed drained of physical energy. As a result, they are likely to make bad decisions or no decision at all due to decision paralysis. Charles describes how companies can ease the minds of their consumers by making the decision to purchase your product/service a no-brainer There are many ways of doing this, but among them include examples of monopolies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, and Netflix. Charles interweaves case studies to help any company to make it easier to penetrate any market. Part 1 of a 3-part series on decision-making, this article can help your company to find success in any industry.
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