Leading Change – deciding who leads!

Challenge kart

Last week I wrote about putting a group together to lead your change – creating a guiding coalition (Kotter Stage 3).

This group needs to include both managers and leaders and they will work together as a team.  The managers will keep the process under control while the leaders will drive the change.

A group with good managers but poor leaders is likely to produce plans but have no compelling vision. It will not communicate the need for change well enough for it to become meaningful –  it will control rather than empower people.

While a group that has all leaders and no managers is unlikely to be organized enough to create the short-term wins necessary to keep others on board for the long-haul – it will not sustain a change initiative.

You need a group that can convince people that change is necessary in the short term.  Then keep them actively engaged through-out the process, so that you can achieve the long-term goal.

Has your organization has been successful in the recent past?  Then if you look hard enough, you will probably find effective change leaders and managers throughout your organization!  You just have to find them.  They don’t necessarily follow the traditional company hierarchy.

If the organization has not been successful for a long time then you have a challenge.  You will need to seek out the good, work with the less good and, if possible, make sure the organization imports some capable fresh blood and embeds and empowers the individuals quickly.  This change will require a very experienced change facilitator fully backed by the top team

To lead and manage  change, you need to bring together a group whose power comes from a variety of sources including; job title, status, expertise, political importance and, just sometimes, sheer force of personality, in other words, charisma!

How to put a group together in four (not always easy) steps:

  • Go out and find the true leaders and strong managers in your organization.
  • Ask for an emotional commitment from these key people – explain to them why you need the change..
  • Work on team building within your change coalition.
  • Check your team for weak areas  and ensure that you have a good mix of people from different departments and different levels within your company.

I would welcome your thoughts on this and, of course,  I am very happy to answer your questions

Related articles

  • Leading Change – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition(wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – knowing what a sense of urgency really means!(wisewolftalking.com)
  • Bewildered by the change you have to make – here is help!(wisewolftalking.com)

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you.  Email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Leading Change – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition

President George W. Bush, left center, joins f...

I’ve written quite a bit here about the Kotter approach to change.  In a recent a recent post, I dealt with his Stage One and creating a sense of urgency.  This post deals with Stage Two – forming a powerful coalition to lead and manage the change.

After 30 years of research Dr John Kotter believes that most major change initiatives fail mainly because organizations don’t commit to seeing the change through and don’t take a holistic approach throughout.   He has demonstrated that his 8 step process provides a way of delivering and embedding large scale organizational change.

His method elaborates and enlarges upon the simple Freeze Phase, three stage approach – square, blob, star.  But the underlying principles are the same.

In a world requiring ultimate flexibility an organization’s ability to deal successfully with change is a key ingredient in its overall success.

Step Two – Creating a Powerful Coalition

No one person, however competent, is capable single handedly of developing the right vision, communicating it to vast numbers of people, eliminating all of the obstacles, generating short term wins, leading and managing dozens of change projects and anchoring new approaches deep in an organization’s culture.

Putting together the right people to lead and manage  the change initiative is critical to its success.   It needs visible support from key people through out your organization.  You must find the right people, instill in them a significant level of trust and develop a shared objective.

You need people who have the right credibility within the organization.  Otherwise things will go limp and the change will simply go to pieces and fritter away leaving the organization weaker than it was before.

You need a  team of leaders and managers that can act in concert and make productive decisions that will be taken seriously by all!  The managers will keep the process under control while the leaders drive the change..

An effective guiding coalition should have

  • Position Power:  Enough key players on board so that those left out cannot block progress.
  • Expertise:  All relevant points of view should be represented so that informed and intelligent decisions can be made.
  • Credibility:  The group should be seen and respected by all so that the group’s pronouncements will be taken seriously by others.
  • Leadership:  The group should have enough proven leaders able to drive the change process.

The team needs to develop trust in one another and a shared goal so that they can make the needed change happen, despite all of the forces of inertia and resistance they find.

My next post will deal with how you choose the group.  But in the mean time I would welcome your thoughts.

Wendy Smith is a personal coach and writer at Wisewolf Coaching. She is a qualified coach and a member of the Association for Coaching as well as being a member of the Institute of Consulting and a graduate of the Common Purpose leadership programme.  Wendy is author of “The WiseWolf Job Search Pocket Book: How to Win Jobs and Influence Recruiters” as well as two novels and a number of articles on management and well-being. Her latest publication is a little eBook; “How to Get on With the Boss.”  You can contact Wendy at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

  • Leading Change – knowing what a sense of urgency really means! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Bewildered by the change you have to make – here is help! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Harvard Business Review’s 10 Must Reads: The Essentials (theascdoctor.com)

Leading Change – bad advice and frightening people!

October 4: Optical Boundaries: An Evening of 1...

I wanted to take my earlier post on creating urgency further today and discuss how you can avoid creating panic.  So I started to do some research.

On what is a very “well respected” website that probably should be nameless,  I came across the following headline

“Let it rip: announcing change all at once may hurt in the short term, but it gets the pain over with quickly and then employees can move on!”

Further on in the same article I came across the following,  from a communications’ consultancy in response to the question of why change announcements are often badly received.

“They don’t take change well because when it comes to communicating changes to employees, every company does it badly.”

You could say they would say that wouldn’t they.  But I regard it as a dangerous statement and the degree of naivety around both these pieces of advice is sad to behold!

Yes, people do need the truth about change and as much information as you can give them about how it is going to affect them. You need to tell them what you know and what you don’t know and how you are going to bridge the gap.

But you don’t let rip!  That way lies panic!

Information needs to be given in a measured and honest way.

However well you do it, if it is a significant change, I am afraid there is likely to be pain.  And, no, it won’t be over quickly because you “let rip”!  But being honest and conveying the message (and your vision) well, can lessen the pain and avoid panic.

All kinds of feelings may emerge when people are faced with change.  How the message is conveyed is only part of the picture.

Nor is it true that every company does it badly but unfortunately many don’t do it well.

So on Friday, I’ll be writing here about how to give your own people bad news and how to control your own feelings in the process.   I want you to be able to do your best to help them!

In the meantime, I’d welcome your thoughts and observations.

Related articles

  • Leading Change – knowing what a sense of urgency really means!(wisewolftalking.com)
  • Managing Change! Is it painful? You bet it is! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Your Sense of Urgency (thinkup.waldenu.edu)
  • Business Change: A Sense of Urgency (martinwebster.eu)

Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)786768143

Leading Change – knowing what a sense of urgency really means!

Dont Panic
  

I’ve written quite a bit here about the Kotter approach to change.

After 30 years of research Dr John Kotter believes that most major change initiatives fail mainly because organizations don’t commit to seeing the change through and don’t take a holistic approach throughout.   He has demonstrated that his 8 step process provides a way of delivering and embedding large scale organizational change.

His method elaborates and enlarges upon the simple Freeze Phase, three stage approach – square, blob, star.  But the underlying principles are the same.

In a world requiring ultimate flexibility an organization’s ability to deal successfully with change is a key ingredient in its overall success.

The first stage in the Kotter approach is to create a sense of urgency but this is often the hardest part of a change to accomplish.

To move a change forward you need to develop and maintain a sense of urgency across the organization. This helps you to kick start the initial motivation to get things moving but also to sustain the energy throughout the change.  Urgency needs to be created and recreated throughout the whole change process.

Moving to this state, while maintaining performance, isn’t easy. And leaders need to differentiate between complacency, panic (what Kotter calls “false urgency”) and the sustainable and more positive state of true urgency

  • Complacency can be the halo effect that follows earlier success.  This leads to a glow of self satisfaction that means potential risks and changes in the world outside the organization are not seen. It can lead to sluggishness or arrogance.  The organization is inward facing and doesn’t study emerging markets, technology and competitors; this is part of the reason why horizon scanning by the leadership team can be so important.  Yes, you may be good, but are you good enough for the changing world and the changing marketplace.
  • Panic (False Urgency) often results when the message about the required change is not well handled.  Instead of inspiring confidence in the team that they can meet the challenge of change, the boss simply frightens them.   Instead of a positive and well managed response, what results is a lot of frenetic activity.  People rush from meeting to meeting without achieving anything significant but the activity in itself can convince the leader that change is happening.  The result can be that people become angry, upset and/or stressed out.  The energy required to complete and embed the change is simply drained away.
  • True urgency according to dictionary means “of pressing importance”! It means taking action now on critical issues and achieving real outcomes.  It is not about processing for processing’s sake.  True urgency engenders a balanced response – seeing the need for change without a sense of panic and impending doom.

If change is to be accomplished successfully then people need to be focused and have a sense that they are in control.  They need to see that there are real opportunities alongside the threat. This will allow them to be alert and proactive – able to act on their own initiative in taking the change forward. With a team that is confident in its leader and has a true sense of urgency, change can be sustained.  It is far less stressful.

Related articles

  • Managing Change! Is it painful? You bet it is! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Your Sense of Urgency (thinkup.waldenu.edu)
  • Business Change: A Sense of Urgency (martinwebster.eu)


Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Leading Leading Change the Simple Way

Leading Leading Change the Simple Way

The three stages of change identified by psychologist Kurt Lewin are the basis of Leading Change The Simple Waymost change management approaches today. Lewin’s three stages are about leading change the simple way.

They are very easy to understand – unfreeze, transition, re-freeze!

There are simple techniques you can use at each stage to move people through and to complete your change successfully.

Leading Leading Change the Simple Way

Unfreeze: People like to feel safe and in control.  Their sense of identity is tied into their present environment; so, they like to stay in their comfort zone! Talking about the future is rarely enough to get them to change.

But there are simple techniques you can use to get them to “thaw” and to make them ready for change.

Transition For Lewin change is a journey.  This journey may not be that simple and the person may need to go through several stages of misunderstanding before they get to the other side.

It is very easy to get caught up in this middle stage. Transition takes time and needs leadership and support! Sometimes transition can also be a pleasant trap – it may feel better to travel hopefully than arrive – particularly for the team leading the change.

Techniques used by experienced change managers move people through transition to the new destination

Refreeze At the other end of the journey, the final goal is to ‘refreeze’, putting down roots again and establishing a new place of stability – embedding new processes and developing a new culture.

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

Leading Leading Change the Simple Way and a Present from Wisewolf

The three stages of change identified by psychologist Kurt Lewin are the basis of most change management approaches today.

They are very easy to understand – unfreeze, transition, re-freeze!

There are simple techniques you can use at each stage to move people through and to complete your change successfully.

Unfreeze: People like to feel safe and in control.  Their sense of identity is tied into their present environment; so, they like to stay in their comfort zone! Talking about the future is rarely enough to get them to change.

But there are simple techniques you can use to get them to “thaw” and to make them ready for change.

Transition For Lewin change is a journey.  This journey may not be that simple and the person may need to go through several stages of misunderstanding before they get to the other side.

It is very easy to get caught up in this middle stage. Transition takes time and needs leadership and support! Sometimes transition can also be a pleasant trap – it may feel better to travel hopefully than arrive – particularly for the team leading the change.

Techniques used by experienced change managers move people through transition to the new destination

Refreeze At the other end of the journey, the final goal is to ‘refreeze’, putting down roots again and establishing a new place of stability – embedding new processes and developing a new culture

Would you like to find out more about this simple approach and the simple techniques you can use to make your change successful!

If you sign up to receive Wisewolf Talking direct by email, you will receive a free copy of my simple guide to leading change.

You will find the sign up form at the top of the column on the right.

Leadership in the matrix – how complex would you like your spiders’ web to be?

A closeup view of the Skylab space station tak...

Spiders’ webs were first spun in low earth orbit in 1973 aboard Skylab.

Two female spiders called Arabella and Anita were part of an experiment on the Skylab 3 mission. The aim of the experiment was to test whether the two spiders would spin webs in space; they did!

At the time the spiders were spinning their webs, we were beginning to talk about matrix organizations and how to make them successful.

The matrix approach grew up alongside the emergence of project management in the early high-tech industries including NASA.  As has been said many times before; the matrix approach is relatively easy to describe but can be challenging in the extreme to manage.

The matrix organization evolved when horizontal relationships, say between subject matter experts, became as important as traditional, vertical reporting lines. Traditional hierarchies were no longer the most efficient way to deliver business.  So the lattice, web-like matrix structure emerged.

This was usually with a functional “line manager” responsible for professional development, reward etc and, say, a project manager responsible for the services to be delivered for a fixed period or for a piece of work.

Now the matrix can apply across cultural and country boundaries as well as across functions.

But, when resources are short and all are focusing on achieving more with less, deciding priorities in the matrix can be difficult.

To succeed a matrix requires absolute clarity from its leaders about the outcomes required.   Clear direction – not the day-to-day detail!  This should be direction that allows competing priorities further down the organization to be resolved in the interests of the organization as a whole.

Senior leaders need to sponsor the matrix structure actively and  make sure that it continues to meet the needs of the organization.  They need to understand how cultural barriers can get in the way of the success and how people can work to overcome them.

Also they should ensure that  governance needs are met despite the matrix structure.  There has to be absolute clarity about who, at the end of the day, is accountable for what!  If there has to dual accountability, then the basis for this needs to be negotiated before other commitments are made.

Communication and informal networks will be critical and leaders can stimulate this by creating a climate of trust and openness.  A matrix will not thrive alongside a culture of blame!

To give their best, people have to understand why a matrix organization exists and what is in it for them.  They should have confidence in their leaders if they are to live with the in-built ambiguity; as well as responsibility and accountability often without authority.

Leaders will want to ensure there is real matrix management capability within the organization so that flexibility and responsiveness are enhanced and barriers are broken down.  Without this, a matrix structure can lead to delay, increased cost and lower job satisfaction.

Make sure you,  as the leader, and your people have the real capability to make your matrix structure work.

I’ve worked with organizations that made their matrix structure work for them and helped them stay at the front of their sector.  I’ve worked with others torn apart by internal strife and without clear leadership.  I would love to hear what your experience has been.

  • Types of Organizational Charts (brighthub.com)
  • Bertrand Duperrin: Social Collaboration? (sfh.naasat.in)
  • How to Master “Matrix Boss Madness” (psychologytoday.com)


Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her atwendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Leading Change – Not Another Version of Wonderland – Scenario Planning Part 2

The White Rabbit in a hurry

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” Alice in Alice in Wonderland!

In scenario planning, scenarios provide a way to think about the uncertain aspects of the future particularly those that seem most unsettled and worrying.

Building and using scenarios can help organisations explore what the future might look like and the likely challenges of living in it.

As I explained in my last post a scenario is a story that describes a possible future. But no one view of the future will be correct. So scenario builders create sets of scenarios. These scenarios address the same questions and include everything that is likely to persist from the present into the future.

Each scenario describes a different way that the future might play out.

Scenarios are based on educated guesses and intuition and they need to be supported with very good information and strong analysis!  They are very carefully crafted structures.

But they are written as stories so that they can make that future seem vivid and compelling.  Without that, the real value in determining how the organisation might respond will be lost!

Using graphics, images and illustrations makes scenarios more comprehensible. They are particularly useful when the scenario needs to contain a lot of complex statistical information.

Scenarios  are not predictions – they are a way of dealing with uncertainty but no one has a crystal ball.  Factors will change!   But they provide a way to have a conversation about the future at strategic level.

Scenarios are a way to consider the potential implications of different events.  They mean teams can think through possible responses.

They provide a great way to get a group in the same room and using the same language.  This can be for a possible future or to help with thinking in a common way about current events.

Scenarios support a positive conversation about how to deal with future uncertainties and for making more successful strategic decisions

In my last post I mentioned that Shell has used scenario planning for quite a while! Well they have produced ‘Scenarios: An Explorer’s Guide’ for people who would like to build and use scenarios, and also for those who want to enhance their scenario thinking skills.  I will be providing a very simple guide to scenario planning here on Friday.  But if you wish, you can download the Shell guide at this link.

  • Leading Change – Your Vision in an Uncertain Future – Scenario Planning Part 1 (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Is Your Agency Doing Scenario Planning? (threeminds.organic.com)
  • Scenarios: mapping the possible (cognitive-edge.com)
Wendy Mason is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her atwendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Leading Change – Your Vision in an Uncertain Future – Scenario Planning

Image via CrunchBase

Every successful change programme starts with a vision of the future.  But where is your vision going to come from, when the pace of change is continuing to increase?

Scenarios are now widely used by governments, businesses and voluntary organisations to help them plan for the future. This can be done on a large or small scale; as part of a wider planning exercise or on their own as a way to develop thinking inside the organisation.

Scenarios are not simply snapshots but fully fleshed out stories of potential futures.  Each is researched in detail to allow the reader to fully imagine themselves in this future world and consider how they would respond.

Scenario Planning was first used by the Rand Corporation in 1948.

By the 1970s the technique had been further developed and was being used by the Royal Dutch Shell Company.

As faith in traditional planning tools weakened, interest in scenario planning grew stronger.

Both Sam Palmisano at IBM and Steve Jobs at Apple have used scenario planning successfully to help their companies deal with global change and uncertain futures.

Many organisations plan for the future or, at least, for a future that they believe or hope will happen.  Usually, this future is based on ‘best’ or ‘worst’ case projections of current trends.  And surprise, surprise, it often bears an uncanny resemblance to the present state;

  • Customers will continue to do and think as they do now!
  • They will make similar choices to the ones they make now!
  • Supply chains will stay the same!
  • Competitors will offer similar products and services!

So the organisation itself will continue to do more or less the same as it does now!

This approach works best in stable, predictable environments!  But for most of us now, that stable and predictable environment no longer exists!.  We are all facing greater uncertainty and experiencing more change than ever before.

We need an approach that helps us to

  • Make sense of what is going on,
  • Spot new trends and events
  • Prepare for that uncertain future
  • Make changes to what we do and how we work  ,

Scenarios are a tool that we can use to help us imagine and manage the future more effectively.

The scenario process highlights the principal drivers of change and the uncertainties facing organisations today!  It explores how they might play out in the future.

The result is a set of stories that offer alternative views of what the future might look like.

Through discussion, they allow us to explore what we would do differently in each scenario.  Then we can identify success criteria, consider new ways of working and define new relationships.

With each scenario, the factors, and how we might respond to them, will differ!  But we can practice what we might do and begin to plan for it!

The discussion about scenarios can help groups build a shared understanding of how to respond to the increasingly complex changes taking place in the world about us.

The great strength of scenario planning is that it can be used to look at today’s challenges from a different perspective. The process of identifying and examining how current factors and trends might play out in the future helps us focus on the likely impact of those trends on our own organisations.

Quite often, participants find that the impacts are going to be bigger and happen sooner than they had realised.

Ultimately, we can use scenario planning to help anticipate, prepare for or manage change.

I’m going to consider this theme further this week.  But if you have experience of scenario planning and its impact on your organisation, can you share it here please so that others can benefit

Related articles

  • Is Your Agency Doing Scenario Planning? (threeminds.organic.com)
  • Rehearsing the future [Guy Rigby] (ecademy.com)
  • 4 reasons why an increased pace of change means greater unpredictability (rossdawsonblog.com)
  • 1o Ways to be Better at Visioning (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Kotter Model Step 3: Create a Vision for Change (wisewolftalking.com)
Wendy Mason is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her atwendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439