The start of a new year often brings new initiatives or other opportunities for transformation. But how often have you seen the effort not bring about the desired results, or even worse, fizzle out completely? How can we implement new processes and procedures and get the change to stick, and bring about the results we want?
The procedure for introducing new initiatives into a company was outlined well in a webinar I listened to recently by ITIL expert, Michael Scarborough, on managing change.
Here are the 8 steps he outlined for effectively leading change:
- Create a sense of urgency - for anything significant to happen there needs to be a sense of urgency. Approximately 50% of transformations fail when there’s no sense of urgency around it. Urgency can create motivation, and without significant motivation people don’t get engaged. Approximately 75% of a company’s upper level management must be committed to the transformation. In order to gain stakeholder perspectives and gain commitment, ask “What if we do nothing?” In order to get change started, status quo can no longer be acceptable.
- Form a guiding coalition - this is a small group with sufficient power to make the transformation occur. A single champion is usually not enough. In order to lead the change, the group needs sufficient respect, experience, authority, credibility and ideally has some budgetary authority. Start with a small group and grow it as momentum builds.
Create a vision – You need to know where you’re headed, and be able to articulate it. Without a sensible vision, transformation can turn into a set of confusing, incompatible projects that take you in the wrong direction, or nowhere at all. Your vision should be very simple, and should elicit a reaction of understanding and interest. It should motivate people to take action in the right direction. The vision helps coordinate the actions of many different people, and outlines the aims of senior management. In conjunction with creating the vision, also create a set of benefits that make sense in the context of your organization that underpin the vision.
Communicate the vision – Without credible communication, and a lot of it, people’s hearts and minds are never captured. Make use of every possible channel – email, one-on-ones through managers, messages from the executive team - and repeat the message until it becomes a part of everyone’s thinking. Managers should lead by example. Communicate the benefits, understanding there are different benefits for different groups. Structure communication to account for that. The purpose of communication is to motivate, inspire, energize and commit the organization.
Empower others to act on the vision – a good change process should not establish a bureaucracy. Enable people, remove barriers. Provide the tools, training, direction and assurance to meet clear, unambiguous goals. The more people who are empowered, generally the better the outcome. Reward the behavior you want. This builds confidence and helps promote personal accountability for action. Accountability should rest as low in an organization as possible.
Plan for and create quick wins - Start with very simple, small things that can be achieved quickly. This helps convince the skeptics, and retains stakeholder support. A real transformation doesn’t happen overnight. Without quick wins people don’t see any progress, so they give up, or even worse, they become detractors.
Consolidate improvements and produce more change – Until an organization realizes the transformation has occurred, in other words, until the changes sink deeply into the culture, the new approach is fragile and subject to regression. In lots of cases, workers will revert to old practices. So you need to rely on the credibility of quick wins.
Plan for, realize and communicate short, medium and long term wins:
a. Short term wins convince and motivate
b. Medium term wins build confidence and capability
c. Long-term wins result in integrated and continual improvements.
Institutionalize the change – if you’ve done all the other steps correctly, your organization will do this for you. What happens is the improvements become imbedded in the organization, it becomes the normal way of doing business.
I hope these 8 steps will be helpful to you and your team as you embark on 2015! If you find that transforming customer experience is high on your agenda this year, please reach out to us. We’d be happy to help you exceed your customer experience goals! Happy New Year!