When you consider that only 30% of all change programs succeed1 you probably want to use an approach that works.

The biggest variable (70%) that differentiated successful change, was the kind of approach adopted2. An approach that places equal importance on people as the technical elements of the change.

Transformational Change

The term describes organisational change that combines ‘inner’ shifts in people’s values, aspirations, and behaviours with ‘outer’ shifts in processes, strategies, practices, and systems.3

Early involvement of the people involved in co-creation of transformational change is more likely to make it successful (70% of transformations fail)2. This means involving the breadth of the organisation (e.g. different functions/departments) and going deep into the organisation (different levels of hierarchy for diversity of opinions and inclusion). This aids immediate ‘inner shift’ movement. Initially a representative sample of the system is involved and then the circle of engagement is widened over time. 

This approach to transformational change is well supported in literature and I have personally used this approach with success in transforming business units, operation departments and large commercial transformations.

APPROACH TO LEADING TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE

  1. Set the North Star
    • Create a compelling long term vision
    • Widen the circle of involvement. People will support what they help to create.
    • Identify the mid term goals
  2. Diagnose the problem
    • Connect people to each other – create a ‘whole’ perspective
    • Have a good mix of people from levels to roles and geographies to get all perspectives and insights.
  3. Design the program
    • Strength based – possibility focus
    • Chose where to be exceptional
    • Network the teams
  4. Act and learn
    • Focus on cooperation
    • Rapid, agile cycles of time bound change, with experimentation and rapid review
  5. Evolve
    • Build the capability of individuals, and the learning organisation, for future change

Sources:

  1. J Kotter, Harvard Business Review, Leading Change, 1996
  2. ‘Sustaining Change: Leadership that Works’ Rowland & Higgs, April 2008
  3. Peter M. Senge et al 1999