People rarely stop doing something until there is a negative consequence. Companies rarely take business improvements seriously until it threatens their survival. It is therefore better to create the discomfort required to force change than to have it forced on you in a hostile manner.
Change happens when the environment is disruptive.
If we take a leaf out of Nature’s book, some of the most destructive and disruptive events have given birth to new life. Volcanoes destroy but over time they create new mountains, and landscapes.
For Change to happen you need to disrupt the current way. There needs to be a point where enough is enough and people are so dissatisfied with the status quo they are prepared to endure the pain and stress of change and go through the process to enable change.
The disruption doesn’t stop there. Organizations need to become change ‘fit.’ Once the change is in place the organization needs to be disrupted again to ensure the change sticks. Old ways, patterns, processes, measures all need to change to lock in the new into the existing systems and structures.
Sometimes it takes an external disruption to kick start change. It takes a strong leader to stand up and say enough is enough.
Here are a few tips to enabling change:
1) Shared Vision: Focus on a shared vision and strategy that is communicated relentlessly throughout the business. A few critical projects need to be selected, where the need for change is clear and leaders are unanimously in support of them. Projects must be prioritized, supported and consequence for non-delivery felt.
2) Accountability: Hold sponsors, process owners, project managers and team members accountable to deadlines and deliverables. Set up the forums to manage these key initiatives and give them the right support and attention.
3) Right Stakeholders: Free up resources and ensure key stakeholders support the prioritized projects. Leaders and Sponsors must know and understand their role. They are available and committed. Middle Managers and Process Owners need to lift their heads up from their daily jobs and have reason to participate. The project success should be on their scorecards and they should be held accountable for its success.
4) Tools and Skills: Give project managers, process owners, sponsors and team members the same tools and understanding of the approach. Spend time educating people on the approach and the expectations. Build the capability and understanding within the business. Once a critical mass has been built, it is easier and less intimidating to be involved and engaged.
5) Empowering Behavior: Leaders need to walk the talk. They need to reinforce the right behavior, reward delivery, and implement consequence for non delivery or co-operation. Ignoring repeated project failure is an indication of negative reinforcement and problems within the organization are not being addressed.
6) Processes and Metrics: Need to be aligned and changed to lock in the new improvements and institutionalize the change. If the team suggests an approach that changes organization design, processes, job roles and ways that people are measured then this change should be supported and embraced. It is only when you lock the changes into existing systems and structures that change becomes permanent and sustained.
Article by Debbie McCarthy
Debbie McCarthy is the founder of Training Leadership Consulting. She is a certified GE Six Sigma Master Black Belt and Change Leadership Expert. Debbie brings 17 years of process improvement, training, coaching, and facilitation experience to Training Leadership Consulting. Debbie’s passion is Curriculum Development and she has created and facilitated courses in Change Leadership, Train the Trainer, Leading High Performing Teams, Manager and Executive Development and Lean Six Sigma.
Debbie brings her experience in working with executives, deploying Lean and Six Sigma and facilitating change to this learning organisation. Training Leadership Consulting is Customer Intimate premier service provider of process improvements.