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A new look at leading change. What makes the real difference?

The 4th industrial revolution will continue to drive technological disruption, further accelerated by China’s leap frogging efforts in mobile technology, clean tech, EV manufacturing and artificial intelligence. The unfortunate health crisis today in China and beyond, is also testimonial of how VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) our world has really become.

As a result, I believe it is hard to ignore that leading change is a top critical leadership competency to drive and sustain performance in any organization.

I have personally studied and experienced many well-known change programs (Kotter, GE Change Acceleration, ADKAR, DMAIC, etc.) and found them great in process but still lacking in focusing leadership and organizations on four critical (people) dimensions of change that have significant impact on moving the organization to acceptance:

1. Change programs should not only focus on the‘organization’but start with the leaders’ self-assessment. The awareness to what degree they personally belief in the change and their ability to ‘unlearn’ as new information becomes available are the true basis where change starts. A self-awareness and mind agility test can provide a personal and team assessment to what degree this dimension of change is fulfilled.

2. Four critical conditions will determine whether change is really moving forward: Pressure, Vision, Capacity and Action. PVCA is an original idea of Prof. Henri-Claude de Bettigny (Insead/Stamford) and it is a powerful tool to evaluate at regular intervals the effectiveness of change. In a nutshell, Pressure should be clearly defined and ‘felt’ throughout the organization. The reality is that when pressure to change is rated “9/10” at the top, it is usually below “5” at the next levels due to a lack of adequate communication and feedback related to the pressure. Equally so, Change Vision aligns the teams in the right direction but if we do a walk-about and ask anyone to define in a one minute pitch the change vision, few typically would be able to respond. Third condition is to assess realistically the Capacity to change in the organization and to provide it where needed… Capacity includes time, budget, know-how, people and tools but also simply leadership … If capacity is not addressed, the change project will lead to increasing frustration and loss of usually the best talents. Last but not least, change only starts with the first real Action. Not a series of meetings to discuss, analyze and strategize but execution.

The better we are at understanding the impact of PVCA and how to strengthen each of the 4 conditions, the more effective change will be. PVCA is also a great common language to use throughout the change project to assess where we are and what is a focus area to move forward…

3. We all usually know the Kubler-Ross curve from denial to adoption when being confronted with change. But how we communicate change will significantly impact how well and how fast you will bring your team to the adoption phase. Communication should focus on ‘motivation’! People will commit when they understand truly what the change really means for themselves the company and society (Meaning). They will also be motivated to engage when change leads to learning and self-development (Mastery) and when they feel really part of the team or the larger community affected by or driving the change (Membership). The better a leader and his team are to apply these 3 M’s in communication, the faster change will move.

4. Last but not least, it is probably even more critical to ensure that your change process is perceived as being fair! There are 5 conditions - based on research by Prof. Ludo Van Der Heyden (Insead) – that make this happen. The 5E’s of Fair Process Leadership are: Engage stakeholders, Explore the options they provide, Explain why change is needed, Execute by giving ownership to make change happen and Evaluate the results regularly to improve the change process moving forward.

Fair process in (change) leadership is common sense but when we do evaluations in organizations, it is obviously not common practice…

In conclusion, these four change dimensions that are complementing existing change models, are usually not covered adequately as they are what I would call the ‘intangible’ side of change. Yet, they are probably the most significant conditions for change to be effective and efficient.

Watch here our change video to learn more about how a new look at change and leadership development can have a real impact on building your agile organization.


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