This article is part 1 of a series of 3 articles on the secrets to lasting change in your organizations.
In a previous article on the blog, we looked into the three secrets to creating lasting change. This was a high-level overview to introduce you to each of our three secrets. This new series of articles will explore each of them in more detail. Before we take a deep dive into the first one, let us remind you of our three secrets:
The answers to each of these secrets are the key ingredients to creating change that lasts.
This article will explore the first secret and help you better understand how to apply it to your reality.
The first secret is essentially this:
By consistently doing two things, you will never need a detailed change management plan ever again.
To create change, many people often believe they need a big change management plan. The belief is that without this big up-front plan, nothing is ever going to happen.
The problem with this thinking is the assumption of having a clear starting point and an end point. To simplify change, some people see it as a very linear journey. They see change as a straight line from the start to end points. Change does not work this way, it is a journey with many twists and turns.
The other problem is there is a very small number of people contributing to creating the big plan. Because of this, people on the ground do not understand why they need to make this change.
In the end, the big up-front plan is there, but it gives people a false sense of certainty and predictability. From our experiences, we learned that change becomes dynamic and fluid when:
Let's do a deep dive into the secret.
As we said, one challenge of the big up-front plan is the false sense of security it creates. The truth is it is hard to know exactly how change is going to look.
You have to be open about the final outcome and accept it may not be exactly where you wanted it to go. You also need to be open to the idea that things may take longer than what you expected. These two realities make the up-front plan moot from the start.
What is more useful than having a big up-front plan is an idea of where you want to go over the next few months. Two or three months is more than enough to start. The idea is not about having a precise plan for this period but to know the high-level items you want to tackle.
Having this vision in mind helps you communicate with people in your organization. When it comes to change and transformation, people want to know when you will involve them.
The other key piece of using a systemic approach to change is how you make the change visual. This is useful to steer the discussions, see progress and keep what you are doing top of mind.
By having regular conversations using visual boards, you will see that change takes a life of its own. You will no longer need to direct everything or have all the answers up front.
One of the big mistakes leaders make is not involving their key change agents from the start. Having them in all the initial conversations about your transformation is a must.
These conversations set the tone for the entire initiative. They help people understand what the change is about and why it is necessary. Even more important though, they help you build a coalition of the willing.
The group of people involved in these discussions will be able to explain the vision to others. They will also be able to provide support on the ground when others have questions. The lack of communication and clarity is one of the main reasons why organizational transformations fail.
By involving your key people in the initial conversations, you will also empower them. They will be able to take more ownership because they will better understand the change.
The more people you have that can share ownership, the more the change will take a life of its own.
Change becomes much easier when you engage people up front and use a systemic approach. This is the first secret to create lasting change.
Remember that change is not linear, it does not have a clear starting and end point. You need to get clarity with your key change leaders around your transformation. You do not need an up-front plan from start to finish but identify the initial steps.
These initial steps should be for a short period ranging from one to three months. This is enough to kick start your initiative and you can identify the next steps when you are closer to doing them.
As you move along, build your next steps with the people on your team. This is a good way to get their buy-in and it gives them a better sense of where you are going with the change. It also creates a support system for you to drive the transformation in your teams.
Creating change this way helps people better absorb change as a journey. It also helps you steer your transformation in real-time based on the needs of your organization.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this three-part series of articles.
What are the challenges that you are currently facing when it comes to change? How could thinking in a more systemic way have an impact?