Change Management Is No Joke

Posted on 05 April, 2019 by Lee Benson



No matter how much it’s desired in business, change is never easy. Or, as leadership development expert Brian Smith says, “it’s going to get messy.” 

Change management initiatives within organizations are, by design, intended to improve results. And in most cases, those results are defined and communicated throughout the organization. So, why do more than 70% of change management initiatives fail? And, of the other 30%, more than 50% don’t fully deliver the desired results?

The primary reason: Leadership Development doesn’t mirror the organizations' drivers that cause extraordinary results to happen. That includes successful change management.

4 Essential Steps to Successful Change Management

Organizational habits are extremely hard to change without a systemic, intentional approach.

It’s important to get the mindset and processes right before even considering the productive power of having the right technology and tools in place. Having the right mindset means you understand how your Management Operating System elements, including change management, are intended to create value for the organization. If team members are told to do something without having this value-creation mindset, they’ll likely check the box and go back to the way things were done before—due to the inertia of their “this is how we’ve always done it” mindset.

Here are a few ways to shift that paradigm

  1. Distill from your leaders the processes, actions and behaviors that cause extraordinary results to happen within your organization, advises former CHRO of AARP, John Sigmon. This becomes your Management Operating System (MOS).
  2. Intentionally design your Leadership Development program to mirror, evolve with, and reinforce your Management Operating System.
  3. Develop a Value-Creation Mindset: Provide mindset- and process-coaching for all leaders so that they continually proliferate both what they believe is possible and the value they create for your organization.
  4. Implement a holistic technology platform that ties together both your Management Operating System elements (the way your organization runs) and your intentional Leadership Development program.

Scope and Scale: How a Management Operating System Manages Change

As your organization prepares for change, think about the answers to these questions:

  • What is the value (ROI) we intend to create?
  • Do our leaders have the skills and proper value-creation mindset to successfully implement this change-management initiative?
  • What is the rollout plan? Who owns it? Have we allocated the necessary resources?
  • Is our Management Operating System designed to make change-management initiatives stick?
  • Do we have the technology in place to effectively communicate, track and measure this initiative?

Your answers need to become living, breathing continuous-improvement efforts and systems. When leaders are coached and developed to have a value-creation mindset, this process comes naturally. When leaders are not so equipped, many of these responses simply become “events” with just a lot of non-value-added box-checking.

Additionally, your MOS should intentionally prioritize, measure, align and effectively communicate all desired outcomes, such as:

  • Improving the organization’s most important number
  • Strategic initiatives designed to create more value
  • Change management initiatives designed to create more value
  • Functional group, team and individual value creation
  • Cross-functional value creation

Establish Your MIN, and Create Cascading Value-Creation 

Asking an organization to change when it is not fundamentally set up for success is like asking someone to build a house who has never picked up a hammer. Everything an organization does should be done with the intent of creating more value. This value-creation journey starts with identifying the organization’s Most Important Number (MIN).

A for-profit organization's MIN could be anything from EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization), to Net Operating Profit; Shareholder Value to Net Positive Cash Flow. The Most Important Numbers for nonprofit organizations are usually focused on “impact,” while government organizations generally focus on “effectiveness.”

Once senior leaders identify their MIN, it’s up to them to discover the best ways to continually improve that number. Some of the things your senior leadership teams will discover they can optimize to create value faster include:

  • Tactical meetings
  • Strategic meetings
  • Cross-functional value-creation meetings
  • Board meetings
  • 1-to-1 meetings
  • Cascading goals connected to the organization's Most Important Number
  • Transparency, focus and accountability around strategic and change management initiatives
  • Leadership development
  • Fixing the “telephone-game” communication problem

When your senior leadership team is aligned to improving its Most Important Number and the value-creation discovery process, it's possible to then cascade this MIN and value-creation discovery process all the way through your entire organization. From here, you can effectively layer-in cascading strategic and change-management initiatives.

Identifying the change you want to see within your organization is easy. But developing the Management Operating and Leadership Development systems to effectively implement that change is no joke. It requires leaders like you to be intentional.

How do you rate your organization’s ability to create more value through change management?

Interested in learning more? I hope you'll join me, Brian Smith, John Sigmon and an exceptional lineup of CEOs and leadership experts at Network Leadership Summit on April 9 in Tempe. Register here:

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