Go beyond the obvious
Get the leadership team at the highest level to pull in the same direction, with a profound alignment on the high-level intent of the transformation and change. This will facilitate the change at all levels in the organisation
Often, alignment is found at superficial level, with short vision statements, and high-level agreement on directions, objectives and intent. However, at a closer look, much is left open for interpretation, and senior leaders are, with good intention and solid rational, pulling in different directions, which makes change initiatives face resistance and distractions along the way.
Getting the leaders to a common understanding of the high-level business context, and the intent of the change initiative in depth, will allow to create the right conditions for change to happen.
It will bring a clear set of enablement actions for the top leadership team to engage in to prepare the organisation for change. This will remove ambiguity, confusion and friction at all levels and stages of change & transformation and create a positive force that pulls the initiative forward.
We have developed capabilities to work with the Business Leadership Alignment in different ways, to go beyond the obvious superficial alignment, and seek in depth understanding among leaders. Below a few selected concepts illustrating how we do it, to illustrate some of our tools and methods that we use to lead & manage change.
With indepth alignment of the Business and Leadership System, the organization will be prepared for change in a totally different way, allowing a swift, impactful execution of change initiatives!
VISION: Describing what “it” looks like
Like everything else we touch, we think a bit different from others regarding the importance of the company vision as well. There is definitely value in a well-crafted vision statement. A sentence or a paragraph that clearly states where the company is heading. Having said this, what gets us excited is not the vision statement. What gets us excited is to hear much more in detail how the people in the organisation see possible future scenarios. We bring people together to work, think, explore and play around with what the future may look like, inside and outside the company. This process helps to create an in-depth understanding and joint interpretation of where the company is heading, and what change initiatives are meant to achieve. This allows to task leaders and managers at all levels to create the right context and conditions for change to happen. Leading and Managing change starts by mobilizing the right people to participate and facilitate the engagement in the vision-work. We help clients do exactly this.
METRICS: Success beyond the numbers
What does success look like? We often start with this question. And almost as often, the answer we get is 1xx% of revenue and profit target. That is success. So, we keep asking. Then we get a whole plethora of answers, ranging from “dominating the world” to “getting people out of poverty” to “early retirement” to “becoming the next CEO”. Everyone has ideas of what success looks like, beyond the financial metrics. It may be personal success, or success for the business, or the organisation. When you lead and manage change, and you engage in this exploration with individuals and groups, you get massive insight in what is motivating and driving the organisation. Bringing this to the surface allows to establish measures and metrics beyond the numbers, that everyone relates to and care for. It removes ambiguity, increases speed of decision making and execution, and ultimately enables the success of the numbers as well.
LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES: Scaling the efforts
One of the hardest things to deal with in a change initiative, is that the organisation is set in certains ways of working together that are no longer adequate, and counterproductive to a successful project. This can be a bit of a catch 22. We often hear that people “should be Agile” “should put the customer in the center” “should take more risk” or “be entrepreneurial”. These wishes for the organisation to work differently are rarely fulfilled. People have a tendency to follow existing process and policy, and it is not easy to understand what the buzzwords mean, in practical terms, for the people doing the job. Our solution to this predicament, is to establish what we call “leadership principles”. The leadership principles may start with a buzzword, “be Agile”, but we work through what this means at several levels of detail, and we work on how to disseminate this across the organisation. This way we have a short-cut, leading whole organisations to work in new ways, without having to re-engineer complicated processes and procedures. That sets a great foundation for further change.
Practical Example: Business Model Transformation
We worked with the MD of a $3B business and his cross functional leadership team to facilitate a Business Model Transformation. To kick it off: we arranged a full day off-site workshop and started by exploring the business context through drawings. This opened up for a very rich conversation not only on the directions and focus, but also the risks associated with the project. We continued by identifying what success look like, we mapped out the organizational dependencies and in the end of the day scoped workstreams for the project. The key success factor for the program was that everyone in the room was assigned the role of “ambassador” for the change program, with clear distinct tasks to enable change.
The Transformation Program run over 12 month and turned out a roaring success in the end.
- Get authentic buy-in from CEO / Executive to explore and discover the business leadership system. This is best done by articulating the impact it has on the change to trickle in the organisation.
- Be bold in the ambitions, the methods and the expected impact. Leading and managing change is about moving yourself, and everyone else outside of their comfort-zone.
- Get everyone off site and tap into the right brain of people. 90% of what you are looking for is not yet spoken, and perhaps outside of awareness. Explore and have fun.
- Document as much detail as possible. Reply on high touch forums (team face to face interactions, workshops) to cascade information across organization.
- It often happens that people do not understand why they engage and what their role in enabling change is. This creates a risk of superficial engagement and possible resistance.
- Try to please and satisfy everyone. Change creates resistance by definition, and meaningful change creates a lot of resistance. There is never a “good time”.
- Assume that people know, understand and agrees on the key topics relevant to the change that needs to happen. They probably do not.
- “Keeping it simple”. At some point in time someone needs to dig into the complexity of what is at stake. the sooner it is done and the higher up in the hierarchy, the better.
- Is every manager in the company able to articulate in detail, with his/her team, in a consistent and coherent way what the company direction is, and what the impact on the team is? If “yes”, how do you know for sure?
- Does every manager in the company know what to do and say to her/his team to ensure that they are ready to engage with change programs in the right way?
- Do you have mechanisms in place to ensure that people behave in the right way on a daily basis, in line with the expectations and intent at top-level.
- If you ask managers across the organisation to write down 3-4 sentences describing the company strategy and priorities, will they write down the same things?
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