Leading Change – are we there yet?

We’ve all endured it, haven’t we!  The trip to see Granny seemed such a good idea.  But now the two kids in the back are really bored and all they want to know is – are we there yet?

Well sometimes, quite often in fact, when you are responsible for leading a change, you will hear the same refrain.  And sometimes, it will be from your Chief Executive.  Chief Executives usually like things done fast – they want their results and they want them now!  Well, of course they do. Usually that is what they get paid for!

But John Kotter, who we have been revisiting here recently, thinks that is why many change programmes fail.  They fail because the change is judged to be complete too early.

Real change, particularly whole organization change, takes a long time to complete properly.  Step Seven of Kotter’s eight stage process is about building on the changes you made with your quick wins, to make sure the whole vision is achieved.

You need to make sure that quick wins are recognised as only the beginning of what needs to be done.  This can be much easier if you have actually fleshed out your vision into a blueprint for the organization you wish to create.  Did you think through what the new business and operating models would look like?  Do you understand what information and support systems will be required? Is that blue print, that you so carefully produced, still appropriate.  In an ever changing world, does it need to be refreshed?

Even with the success you have achieved so far, you need to keep looking for improvements! Each success you achieve with your change programme provides an opportunity to build on what went right and to identify what you can improve. And you need to keep your audience, and particularly your Chief Executive, on board for the long haul with lots of good quality information.

What other things can you do now?

  • Build on the credibility you have established to win confidence in your long term solutions – make sure people see the links between what has been achieved so far and what is to come.
  • After every win, analyze what went right and what still needs improving. Be honest about the results and, if something didn’t go particularly well, show you own the problem and how you will make sure it doesn’t happen again.
  • Refresh your goals to make sure they build on the momentum you’ve achieved.
  • Learn about the idea of continuous improvement.
  • Keep ideas fresh by bringing in new change agents and leaders for your change coalition.
  • Refresh the team, if you need to – those good at start-up may not be who you need now.
  • While maintaining focus on the vision, re-invigorate your programme with some new projects and some new themes.

So it really is a bit like the journey to see Granny!  It helps if you have some new games, so that you can keep people engaged.  But of course at the end of the day you are still paying very close attention to the map to ensure you do get to your final destination.

I would love to hear about your experiences of change.  And if you think I can help you, please get in touch!

A Kotter Reading List for you;

Related articles

  • Leading Change and the virtue of patience (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – dealing with fears and facing up to resistance(wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – get your vision into people’s minds and keep it there!(wisewolftalking.com)

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439 or 

2 Replies to “Leading Change – are we there yet?”

  1. Wendy – Thanks for the useful tips on change. I Had the opportunity to reflect with a client recently who was brought in to lead culture change. The org. is nearing achievement of its overarching metric that was set as the last mile marker to indicate “Yes. We are there now.” It is nine years post launch. His immediate response to “What does it take?” Persistence. We continue to reflect and there are of course more answers to that question, but that was the first thing that popped into his mind. I appreciate your point about setting new sub-themes along the way. It makes the long trip to Grandma’s seem less daunting and creates winning moments to keep the marathoners moving and motivated.

  2. Thanks Anne – how wonderful that your client was around to see this brought close to its successful achievement! Unfortunately, the persistence required does seem to be scarce!

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