The statistics on driving change initiatives in organizations are pretty dismal. Nearly 70% of employees cannot describe their company’s strategy, even when there’s a poster on the wall. About the same number feel they’re not good at driving strategy. So it’s no surprise that strategic change initiatives fall short of the hoped-for impact at the same rate — 70%.

These statistics were shared in a recent webinar on “Fast and Collaborative Change Management: Embracing Digital Tools,” presented by the Fulcrum Network. Participants learned about the kinds of structural changes most companies are facing these days: monologue to dialogue, analog to digital, individual to group-based, and gut intelligence to data-driven, among many others. 

Breaking a change initiative in an organization down to its parts 

The change model laid out by Fulcrum Network had four steps:

  • A plan
  • Understanding
  • Buy-in
  • Commitment

As I reflected on this outline, I was struck by the similarity to a change model I learned years ago — the Head-Heart-Hands model. Both frameworks emphasize that for change to happen, people have to understand the rationale and what is expected of them, become inspired that the change is important and positive, and have the tools and skills to make the change happen.

Mapping organizational change initiatives

These models are  useful for business leaders who find their change efforts are running into roadblocks. We often label this as “resistance,” implying that people have an innate dislike of change. But instead of blaming, it’s much more productive to analyze what’s getting in the way. 

Is there a lack of understanding? Have the leaders taken the time to explain the reasons for the change? Businesses often “cascade” information down from the senior leadership team to the rank-and-file, and sometimes there’s a blockage somewhere and the message is not getting through. 

Is there a lack of buy-in? Do people care about the change? Do they feel it will benefit them? Especially when people have worked in a company for a long time, they have seen change initiatives come and go. As a result, they may be cynical about whether this one is going to be any different.

Is there a lack of commitment? Are they ready to take on the tasks that are required to make the change happen? Do they have the skills, training, and tools they need? 

Guiding your change initiatives to success

There are techniques for tackling each of these challenges, as well as ways of identifying where the problem lies. 

For example, in most organizations there are key influencers who have the power to make the case for change and engage people’s passion. These influencers may be in positions of formal authority, but often they’re not. Figuring out who they are and bringing them on board can really accelerate the success of the change initiative. The good news is that using new People Analytics tools such as Network Analysis can help to quickly identify who those key influencers are. 

If you’d like to know more about how to drive and navigate change in your organization, contact us at ggolden@gailgoldenconsulting.com.

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