Change itself is the only constant for organizations that hope to have a full lifespan. While small changes occur with regularity, a wholesale transformation or quantum evolutionary leap sometimes becomes necessary. Without the full support of staff and management, such fundamental shifts are challenging, perhaps even impossible to orchestrate successfully. Part of gaining that support lies in managing change effectively. Haphazard change cannot breed confidence, but directional, managed change that follows a logical progression carries the entire organization forward.
The process outlined in John Kotter's 1996 book from Harvard Business School Press, “Leading Change,” defines an eight-step program for directional evolution of organizations. This article builds on Kotter's foundation with the Method Frameworks system to develop a program for successful, lasting change with a minimum of upheaval.
One of the greatest challenges with transformative alterations is that organizations, while inherently in need of change, also inherently resist it. The people who make up that organization tend to prefer familiarity and stability; making the shift to an entirely new paradigm takes more effort than staying the current course. Even motivated staff can find themselves on uncertain footing when sweeping changes affect their organization's stability. New modes of thought, new skill-sets and new routines take time to instill. Metamorphosis is a potentially uncomfortable process.
Four elements govern how successfully a sweeping change is implemented:
How those directing the changes impart the goals and vision behind those changes to the rest of the organizational structure. The whole organizat...
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...ionally to ensure that it still fits the organization's purposes. The leadership team must also undergo revision on occasion to keep its feedback fresh and linked in to the organizational structure.
Make progress itself part of your vision. By incorporating change itself into the fabric of your organization, you embrace the possibility of building on your successes. Staff members understand that with effort, they can effect a change on their position within the organization, giving them the impetus to strive for more. As valued members of your change coalition move on or retire, as inevitably they will, add new viewpoints to the team.
Change is unavoidable, but the difference between directed, effective change and haphazard change is like the difference between a rock wall and a rockslide. Both involve moving mountains, but only one provides lasting security.
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