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Bringing — and sustaining — change Published Article 2011

Bringing — and sustaining — change Published Article 2011

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Published by Chris Maund
The world keeps changing, and organisations need to keep up. Yet, when change is initiated, how much time does a leader have to create true momentum for needed change within the firm? Chris Phillips-Maund says it’s not as long as you might think.
The world keeps changing, and organisations need to keep up. Yet, when change is initiated, how much time does a leader have to create true momentum for needed change within the firm? Chris Phillips-Maund says it’s not as long as you might think.

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Published by: Chris Maund on Aug 17, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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and sustaining
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The world keeps changing, and organisations need to keep up. Yet, when change is initiated,how much time does a leader have to create true momentum for needed change within the firm? Chris Phillips-Maund
says it‟s not as long as you might think.
n the business world, scepticism about change initiatives is rampant. Not only do some 70 per cent of suchefforts fail, but even those that look successful at first often prove unsustainable in the organisational culture. Thisstatistic does not come as a big surprise to those who remember the words of Niccolò Machiavelli, written in the
1500s: “It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor moredangerous to manage, than the creation of a new system.” Bec
ause change disturbs and threatens those whoare comfortable with the way things are, it tends to have few adherents, especially when first broached. But thatis no excuse for avoiding the difficulties encountered when trying to drive needed change.
Changing times
More, the need for change is not new. In 500 BC, Heraclitus stated that “everything is in flux”, like the constant
flow of a river. Unfortunately, today we all live in a time when organisations face a need for change as a result ofwhat is better described as a raging torrent than a flow. Threats from competitors appear almost overnight. Newtechnologies are adapted in what seems like nanoseconds, bringing new processes and improved methods ofproduction. In addition, enhanced versions of older products keep appearing as do new products that make older
ones obsolete. In fact, „new and better‟ and „more effective and more efficient‟ have become watchwords, making
the ability to change and adapt crucial to continual success, to increased profits
and, indeed, survival.
Moreover, as John Kotter has pointed out, “The rate of change is not going to slow down any time soon. If anything, competition in most industries will probably speed up even more.”
 Accepting change as the new norm is not enough. Along with acceptance must come the determination to ensurethat employees are able to adapt continually so businesses can meet these changes.
House of change
If bringing change and sustaining it
that is, making permanent the goals, behaviours, relationships, processesand systems for business advantage following a change
are to be successful, the changes needed must beestablished within a framework, using the right tools and techniques. And, change must be managed by skilledleaders.One way to think about change management is to think of it as building a house, one with a strong foundation,sturdy floors, solid walls and a heart at its centre that can withstand the forces of nature.
The foundation
The foundation of the house is the change management framework, the tools, techniques and skilled changeleaders who are familiar with what is involved in change management, which makes it possible for them to makethe right choices for the organisation involved. There is no silver bullet; the truth is that no one technique will work
in every scenario. The change manager‟s toolbox should include appreciative inquiry, collaborative loops,
balanced scorecards, six sigma processes, whole scale change plans and so on.
The floor 
Trust, employee engagement and social networks form the floor of the house. They utilise organisational socialstrengths and intellectual capital in designing and developing employee-led change. Trust is multi-dimensional:trust in the executives to articulate the true organisational problems (without corporate rhetoric or spin), trust inthe change leaders to lead in such a way that the outcomes desired are achieved and trust in the employees toown the change. The clear objective is to eradicate hidden agendas and information asymmetry throughopenness. Employee engagement gives employees a voice, and managers need to be open to listening toemployees.
The walls
Executive sponsorship, commitment, communications and stakeholder management form the walls of the house.Although a key success factor is ensuring executive sponsorship, that does not imply top-down driven change(although in some scenarios, for example, short-term survival, this may be necessary). Rather, it meansexecutive voice and support in the organisational power and political structures needed to make certain that theresources for bringing about change are available. Communication needs to be targeted, appropriate and timely
and it needs to resonate with the audience.
The heart of the house
The heart and soul of the house is the organisational culture. It is critical to create a psychology within theorganisation that makes it seem logical to all to adopt and execute the strategies needed to bring about change.The selection of execution strategy must be cognisant of the organisational culture and psychology that exist
today as well as where the organisation wants to be. That is, it‟s important to get people thinking about the future
state of the organisation, the one that frames the vision of its leadership.If all of these elements are put in place in the right way, they can turn the bricks and mortar of the house into ahome.
Leader’s agenda
If the changes needed are to be made
and sustained
a tight time frame is important to ensure that thosewho do not buy in and those who, out of fear, actively oppose the change do not have an opportunity to thwartthe process. Given enough time and no clear visible and emphatic actions, the resisters can undermine theprocess in subtle ways. To avoid that, it is important to make it clear that management is determined to make thechanges, that employees receive information about why the changes are needed and that they be reassured thatthey will have an opportunity to be trained in the new processes.I have found that a good time frame for action is 100 days from the beginning of the process to the firstdeliverable. To be successful, that time period should focus on participative interactions with executive sponsors.It also should include the identification and development of change groups to determine the outcomes desired interms of goals, relationships, behaviours, systems and processes. And it must address the development of themethods and mechanisms that will be used to monitor the sustainability aspects of change.
Those first 100 days should be broken down into four phases that tie directly to the leader‟s agenda for this

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