From experience I have learned that successful change occurs when there is commitment, a sense of urgency or momentum, stakeholder engagement, openness, clear vision, good and proper communication, strong leadership, and a well executed plan.
Leading Successful Change
John Kotter’s 8-step change model recognises each of these characteristics. The eight steps are
- Increase urgency
- Build the guiding team
- Get the right vision
- Communicate for buy-in
- Empower action
- Create short-term wins
- Don’t let up
- Make it stick
What I like about the 8-step change model is that it applies to every facet of leading successful change. It can be used to influence buy-in at the beginning of an initiative when you are seeking sponsorship and the support of senior executives. Or it can be used to change the behaviour of ideological resistors. Let me illustrate.
Your organisation wishes to improve customer service standards. It gathers information and statistics—satisfaction ratings, dropped call rates, average call duration, number of bounced calls and so on—and presents the results to a group of customer service agents.
Seeing the figures and hearing why they are problematic and need changing doesn’t work especially well. People have to think about the message and come to some understanding before deciding to change behaviour.
A possible outcome is that they detach themselves from the problem and blame management. Or they may refuse to accept the data because they “do a good job.” Some will simply say the change “is a waste of time” or “why bother with this when there are so many other problems they need to sort out.” Successful change is an unlikely outcome.
In contrast, filming interviews of real customers and presenting this to employees is much more powerful. A video grabs attention and evokes interest. People are likely to absorb what they see and hear and will learn the truth—from the horse’s mouth—and ultimately feel differently. Their emotional response will cause them to act. Successful change is more probable.
In The Heart of Change, John Kotter and Dan Cohen say that successful change happens by making people feel differently. Action is taken when people are shown the reasons for change. This is called the “see-feel-change” dynamic.
In the illustration the video was used to create a visual impact. Of course, the use of video is only one way to elicit a response; there are many other ways to bring about a positive emotional reaction.
Have Your Say
How do you lead successful change? Please join the discussion.