Topic 8 from the “Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics” series
transcript written by Wayne Brown
Hello and welcome to CHANGE or at least the “Necessity for Change”. As you can see from my appearance, we are leaving no stone unturned to re-enforce this message – visually as well as informatively. (As you’re not watching the video, I’ll describe my outfit. I’m wearing an all white suit with black shirt and handkerchief. Standing rather than sitting and ready to rock.)
During this episode, we plan to paint a convincing picture why your relationship with Change is such a formative part of your Leadership credentials and how you can help others understand and follow your lead, during what can be a highly emotive and therefore challenging process to fulfil at work.
As always, we have already aligned your chances for successful in advance, through the earlier topics introduced, so this exercise is just an extension of those learnings. In fact, whilst you may not realize it, we are living a life of constant daily change.
The only difference with change at work and change in your private life is that we may not always be in control of the decision for making the change at work and therefore we become concerned by the uncertainty & potential impact.
Let’s take a closer look…
What age are you now? – in my case I’m nearing 60 (baby boom generation) and as I cast my mind back to the earliest times I can recall – maybe around 3 or 4 years of age, I can see that things were quite different then, compared to just 5 years later, when I started playing competitive sport.
During that 5 year period of course there was constant change as I developed and learnt exponentially. Then the next 10 years, moving from primary to high school (freedom!)
These first 15 or so years were so formative, influencing my values and my thoughts, offering experiences which created my beliefs and eventually shaped my behaviors. Ah the memories ….
But of course it didn’t stop there, change continued during the next 10 years – girls, cars, the beach, sport and introducing this thing called a job. And then a further 10 years – the feeling of responsibility really kicks in, with the addition of family, on top of work pressures.
What ever your age or images, I’m sure you can see that until today your life has been in a constant flux of change – some of it planned and intentional, some forced and some unexpected. During this time we reacted and responded, but we survived and most likely grew stronger in our mind as a result.
On a personal level, technology has had a significant influence on the changes in my world – the use of calculators only came into practice towards the end of my high school years. Computers a few years after that. I purchased my first desktop in 1986 with a dos operating system, floppy disc drive and a massive 20mb of storage on it’s hard drive for a resounding AUD $5000.
10 years later I read a book written by Bill Gates called “Crossroads” (unfortunately I can’t find a link to this book anymore) where he predicted that in 5 years time we would all be walking around with our world in our back pocket – whilst his prediction was a little ambitious, it was an image that certainly painted a picture of significant change ahead.
Today, as we record this episode, we are entering another significant moment in history where change is reshaping our lives – the technical convergence of AI, IoT, Internet 3.0, 5G, Quantum computing, autonomous vehicles and the list goes on – I look at my 5 year old daughter and can’t help but wonder what her teenage life will be like 10 years from now.
Change or be gone…
So, as we shift that image of constant change occurring everywhere in our personal lives across into the workplace, we need to ask why does it become such an emotional process.
We know that all business, profit or non profit, exists to provide a product and/or service to the customer which addresses their pain.
These pains (needs) change with time and therefore a company’s solution also needs to change right in parallel. And we have witnessed countless examples over the decades where once dominant companies in their field have disappeared entirely.
Why, for the simple reason that they didn’t understand or ignored those changing needs. So the message being that a company which fails to keep pace with the changes happening all around it will soon be replaced by a company that does.
Naturally there are a range of considerations for all companies during any change process – what is the impact to the employees, to the customer, to the systems and processes and importantly the company culture.
We’ll be exploring a number of these elements as we delve deeper in this episode.
For now see if you can recall some industry titans from the past couple of decades that no longer exist or have been forced into a different direction? And by contrast, who are the current day titans (those dominating the landscape).
Past companies such as Kodak, compared to the Amazons, Microsoft, Apple and Google whom are presently shaping much of our current and future lives – history will tell the story, whether all of these will survive 20 years from now.
And then we have a few less examples of those mega companies such as Walmart & Disney, that have been able to weather the change storm and continue to dominant decade after decade, what is the secret to their success?
I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a really, really, fascinating topic.
Change Cuvre and House explained…
And where to start therefore to unravel some of the reasons – we have decided to introduce first the neurological aspect, as we’ve touched on this already with the Motivational discussion (remember Topic 2). It’s really the fundamentals of what drives our emotions and subsequent behaviors.
Kubler-Ross model illustrates 5 stages along a curve placing denial, frustration, depression, experiment & decision measured across a time axis. In our illustration we have tried to overlay the curve onto the house to give you some resemblance of how this might work.
Typically, we start from the status quo (from contentment where everything is proceeding as normal and we feel relaxed, comfortable there’s no sign of any storm looming – you might say the sun is shinning and the birds are singing.
Suddenly, my environment encounters a change, I’m shocked and in denial on the need for such a change when everything has been so relaxed until now. As time progresses, we move to frustration and anger.
If not dealt with correctly people may get stuck here. Best practice is to allow those involved to express their annoyance as part of the healing process.
After which the realization starts to set in and we often see depression or general apathy towards the situation. The good news is this is the turning point and provided you as the leader are present and supporting, we begin to climb out of the negative situation.
However, the next phase is that enter a state of confusion which is often the greatest challenge. Something may feel wrong, but we’re not sure what, or what to do to make things right.
We could be tense with feelings of inferiority and doubts – this is normally where we will start to experiment with the new changes. To develop our understanding further and grow in our confidence about accommodating and using them.
We need to be conscious here that the new environment might not suit everyone and there is a risk that people may not be able to accept the situation instead opting to leave and seek a different environment rather than stay.
Finally, with more time, experience and guidance we reach the final stage or room – we make the decision to not only accept the changes but also start to embrace them, they rebuild their ways of working. Only when people get to this stage can the organization really start to reap the rewards of the change initiative.
Preparation and careful planning…
As you may imagine, there is a large degree of preparation and careful planning required to have any chance of success during any change initiative. Understanding clearly where you are today and what the future state looks with both mindset and behaviors.
This requires due consideration to your stakeholders reactions (whether it’s your team, customers, suppliers etc.) based on their motivation, attitude and abilities.
And then finally being able to think through the entire implementation process communicating through-out, demonstrating your belief in the changes by leading from the front, ensuring that the necessary supporting systems, tools or processes are available and working, to the need for additional stakeholder development, coaching or guidance to enable implementation.
You can see illustrated on the screen the 4 broad steps mentioned in this entire change process. We are now going to move onto explore in detail the requirements of the last 2 steps, starting with WHAT & HOW focusing on Mindset and Behavior Change using the “from-to” tool, before introducing the implementation guideline technique called BCM or Behavior Change Model and how to incorporate the Change Story for more powerful communications.
Change the mindset with purpose…
With every Change initiative clarity of purpose is extremely important. Starting therefore with the exercise to define “What is the current status and what is it we desire for the future”
This definition then enables us to explore the stakeholders current related mindset. Changing the mindset to align with that defined future state is perhaps the most critical factor in achieving success with-in the change process.
It’s foundational in being able to reshape behavior and so we introduce here a simple 3 part tool, which Leaders can utilize together with their stakeholders and we start by identifying where they are today – i.e.
- What is the current status and how is this status supported by current behaviours and their underlying mindset, which we list in the “From” column.
This provides us with a powerful insight, as we have already defined our desired future state, and therefore we can now determine what our mindset and behavior needs to look like to achieve that state.
Hence in the “To” column, we list these new thoughts, beliefs and rules and necessary activities as a consequence.
Based on this realization we can then develop the necessary actions which will drive that change in mindset and behaviour from today, to the future vision.
Introducing the Behavior Change Model…
And therefore the time has arrived to start making the change a reality, by considering the actions which need to be implemented for this Change initiative to be successful.
For those familiar with John Kotter’s famous 8 step Change model (this links to a list of all Kotter’s books), you will notice some similarities in the model we are about to introduce. There are numerous models available to you so feel free to utilize the one which works best for you.
In our case we are going with a simple and visually easy 4 quadrant model, referred to as the Behavior Change Model. Our 4 quadrants cover in order the actions required “Creating understanding”, Being a role model, aligning systems and Building capabilities.
For Creating Understanding we need focus in on our Communications skills mentioned a little earlier in this video to ensure that ever stakeholder has clarity around the change the reason why, it’s the starting point where we provide the rationale – introducing the big picture and zooming in to the local level, outling timing, approach, systems, training etc.
Then address what I’m required to do as a result and what’s the impact. Later we introduce the “Change Story” technique to support you here.
From this we move to quadrant 2 and look at what actions are required of us as Leaders to demonstrate our belief in this change.
Essentially wanting to illustrate that we champion the initiative and will lead the way with adoption. Don’t under estimate this step – the stakeholders will be watching you closely to gauge your buy-in.
Quadrant 3 & 4 help us consider the supporting systems, tools, processes and training, associated with this Change. Are they available? Is part of the Change involving new technology which replaces existing legacy systems and will generate extra workload to introduce, therefore resistance.
Whatever the case you need to have considered carefully the actions required and the resulting reactions. Rigorously, working through each of the 4 implementation stages will greatly increase your chances of success which in it’s self a significant achievement given that 70% of all Change Initiatives fail.
The Change Story – a best seller…
And finally to put the icing on the cake – and as we mentioned earlier, let’s ensure that you can celebrate that success by making all of your communication, through-out the process as effective and engaging as possible. To do so, we introduce 5 easy to remember, key elements in developing our Change Story.
- Have the right parts and structure – i.e. make it personable, stating the BIG REASON WHY change is necessary. Paint the vision, the goals, what will we be doing different in the future, what’s expected and what are the next steps?
- Tie your story to a strong analogy – introduce a theme or fable which can be easily associated back to this change initiative and is enticing and motivating.
- Grab the stakeholders attention with a teaser – create some buzz and excitement with-in the story around the change process using something relevant and enforceable.
- Spark emotions – the story should stir up emotions. Remember the motivational methods covered in Topic 2
And finally as made famous by Stephen Covey in his 7 Habits – always have the end in mind. Make the ending of your story positive and the recipients wanting to know more.
Something to keep firmly in mind through-out this entire Change process and I’ll quote John Kotter again here –
“Do not declare victory to soon”.by John Kotter
The secret is to remember the Change curve and the reality that change is a process which takes time. People need the opportunity to work through their emotions and whilst they can be supported and guided they can’t be forced!
So this brings us to the end of this topic “Necessity for Change”. We hope that you have been able to gain a brief insight to the “Why, What and How of Change”.
For our next episode…
Our VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world today requires that we not only understand this Change need, but that we leaders must also champion the process.
As we move into our next and second last topic “Pitching your value based strategies” we’ll take a peek into the need for balance between performance and values and the impact of strong culture, based on diversity and inclusion. How does this guide your approach in the pursuit of strategic objectives?
And as always, until next time, stay safe and keep learning. Bye for now!