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Forbes: How to Lead Change: 3 Steps

Forbes Contributor, Mike Myatt, outlines how to Lead Change in 3 steps…

While there is little debate that the successful implementation of change can create an extreme competitive advantage, it is not well understood that the lack of doing so can send a company (or an individual’s career) into a death spiral. Companies that pursue and embrace change are healthy, growing, and dynamic organizations, while companies that fear change are stagnant entities on their way to a slow and painful death.

Agility, innovation, disruption, fluidity, decisiveness, commitment, and above all else, a bias toward action will lead to the creation of change. It is the implementation of change which results in evolving, growing and thriving companies. While most executives and entrepreneurs have come to accept the concept of change management as a legitimate business practice, and change leadership as a legitimate executive priority in theory, I have found very few organizations that have effectively integrated change as a core discipline and focus area in reality.  As promised, and without further ado, the change life-cycle in three easy steps:


 1. Identifying the Need for Change

The need for change exists in every organization. Other than irrational change solely for the sake of change, every corporation must change to survive. If your organization doesn’t innovate and change in accordance with market driven needs and demands it will fail – it’s just that simple. The most complex area surrounding change is focusing your efforts in the right areas, for the right reasons, and at the right times. The ambiguity and risk can be taken out of the change agenda by simply focusing on three areas: 1) Current Customers – what needs to change to better serve your customers? 2) Potential Customers…what needs to change to profitably create new customers? and; 3) Corporate Culture…what changes need to occur to better serve your workforce and improve their resources such that they can better influence items one and two above?

2. Leading Change: You cannot effectively lead change without understanding the landscape of change

There are four typical responses to change: The Victim; those who view change as a personal attack on their persona, their role, their job, or their area of responsibility. They view everything at an atomic level based upon how they perceive change will directly and indirectly impact them. The Neutral Bystander; This group is neither for nor against change. They will not directly or vocally oppose change, nor will they proactively get behind change. The Neutral Bystander will just go with the flow not wanting to make any waves, and thus hoping to perpetually fly under the radar. The Critic; The Critic opposes any and all change. Keep in mind that not all critics are overt in their resistance. Many critics remain in stealth mode trying to derail change behind the scenes by using their influence on others. Whether overt or covert, you must identify critics of change early in the process if you hope to succeed. The Advocate; The Advocate not only embraces change, they will evangelize the change initiative. Like The Critics, it is important to identify The Advocates early in the process to not only build the power base for change, but to give momentum and enthusiasm to the change initiative. Once you’ve identified these change constituencies you must involve all of them, message properly to each of them, and don’t let up. With the proper messaging and involvement even adversaries can be converted into allies.

3. Managing change requires key players have control over 4 critical elements

1) Vision Alignment – those that understand and agree with your vision must be leveraged in the change process. Those who disagree must be converted or have their influence neutralized; 2) Responsibility – your change agents must have a sufficient level of responsibility to achieve the necessary results; 3) Accountability – your change agents must be accountable for reaching their objectives, and; 4) Authority – if the first three items are in place, yet your change agents have not been given the needed authority to get the job done, the first three items won’t mean much. It’s critical you set your change agents up for success and not failure by giving them the proper tools, talent, resources, responsibility and authority necessary for finishing the race.

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