Want Change to Last? Lead Me!

By Chris Ihrig

Depending on the source you consult, the vast majority of change initiatives fail. According to Michael Beer and Nitin Nohria writing for Harvard Business Review in May 2000, a whopping 70% fail. They say, “To improve the odds of success, and to reduce the human carnage, it is imperative that executives understand the nature and process of corporate change much better.” Another Harvard professor (emeritus,)

John Kotter argues that leading successful change begins with a shared sense of urgency – at least 50% of the workforce buying into the need for change.

Let’s assume for just a moment that you’ve successfully engaged a majority of employees who see the need for change and you’ve taken steps to reduce the human carnage inherent in large-scale change (like losing focus and engaging in multiple initiatives with conflicting objectives.)

Let’s assume for a moment that you’ve actually succeeded in making needed changes that are delivering better customer value. My question is: how do you make the change last? Here is a quick checklist you may find useful. If you can answer yes to most or all of the following questions, then there is a good chance the change will last:

  1. Are the changes focused first on delivering more/better value to customers?
  2. Have the people working in the system designed the system and are they responsible for making improvements as needed?
  3. Is everyone working within the newly redesigned system clear on what their new roles and responsibilities entail?
  4. Are the new roles and responsibilities taking advantage of each person’s strengths?
  5. Does everyone understand how to access needed resources?
  6. Is the decision-making process clear? Does everyone know when and how to choose the appropriate style of decision-making: a) unilateral (one person solely responsible for the decision), b) participatory (the decision-maker consulting others before making the final decision), c) consensus (the group agreeing on a decision together), d) voting (a simple majority carrying the day), e) relying on an expert (relying on an expert to make the decision), f) compromise (finding the middle ground), g) task force (assigning the decision to a small team)?
  7. Are the goals clear? Are they within each person working in the system’s control to accomplish?
  8. Is everyone clear on what success looks like and how you will track and measure it?
  9. Is everyone in the system accountable for producing results?
  10. Do people have the authority they need to do their work and respond to customers appropriately?

Getting clarity on the answers to these questions and more is what Fired-Up! Culture is all about.  Contact us today for a conversation.