McKinsey posted a very interesting article here on why change initiatives fail. I think that it hints at a core issue that we have.
Our strategies often require the staff who we lead to change. For two years the biggest complaint that we had from the field was that the corporate staff were generating too much change. Our response (of which I have been a champion) is for the corporate staff to create fewer initiatives, and to space those that we do generate. This article argues that this is the wrong approach, and that our emphasis should not be on limiting the change that we allow to be created, but to create an organizational culture that has change management as a core process, so that changes that are necessary (preferably organically generated from the local level) can be implemented as a matter of course.
Food for though. Comments on this article anyone?
Creating a culture in an organization where people engage in creative thinking, planning and execution to most effectively accomplish the vision is a culture change.
To create this culture requires use of culture change management. There are well thought out processes for doing this based upon a lot of experience. John Kotter describes one of the most respected processes for culture change in his book “Leading Change“.
Kotter outlines the process that he observed to have worked the most often. It has 8 steps as follows:
- Establish a sense of urgency
- Create the guiding coalition
- Develop a change vision
- Communicate the vision for buy-in
- Empower broad-based action
- Generate short-term wins
- Never let up
- Incorporate changes in the culture
Personally, it’s been a long time since I learned any change management theory, and I can’t remember much of it. However, I do remember that the key was to utilize “change agents” to create “critical mass” of people who operate according to the new cultural principles. I think that I remember that a critical mass had to be between 30% and 40% of the population of an organization for it to reach the tipping point where everyone else would adopt the change.
Anyway, food for thought when thinking about introducing a culture of strategic leadership.