Organisations face an unprecedented era of complexity. Rapidly changing market dynamics, unpredictable and sometimes unstable social, political and economic backdrops combined with demands from stakeholders, customers and workers that are contradictory at best – means that organisations must be more nimble, adaptive and resilient than ever before. Even if they manage to articulate and define insightful strategy – the implementation of this in a timely way where full value is realised can be daunting.
For most organisations their expertise lies in the technical, process and structural changes – this is not their challenge. The daunting aspect lies in the recognition that most humans are biologically driven to resist change. Change can be easily perceived as threat, threat is processed by the reptilian brain and respondent behaviours fall into one or all of the categories of ‘fight / flight or freeze’. To lead successful organisational change leaders must understand and attend to the ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘who’ and ‘how’ of change.
Successful change is an iterative journey, with the change ‘program’ needing to adapt to real time inputs. It can be exhausting, to both the leaders driving change into a headwind of inertia and the change fatigue experienced by the organisation.
Working with Acumen Global Partners, organisations have an experienced and supportive partner in navigating the human aspects of organisational change.
The DNA of leading a step change
Why do more than seventy percent of change efforts fail? The truth is, systemic change is exceedingly complex, and there is no one cause, nor a single antidote, to the dismaying results. However most of the unsuccessful change efforts reveal a common pattern; crucial variables are ignored. Usually the more obvious and easy to address aspect of the change are tackled. The more invisible, insidious, emotionally wrenching quadrants of personal and cultural changes are often left out of the equation
The Acumen approach is inclusive and built on a foundation of three critical elements:
The most effective motivation for step change is intrinsic and the greatest likelihood of success begins with the commitment of the most senior Leaders who have accountability for the outcomes sought. For example – if step change is required at a whole of organisation scope – then the change must be owned and led by the CEO.
However – this is not the full story. This then translates throughout the organisation – at each level – each leader owning and leading within their own domain and authority – with a common purpose and vision in sight.
The reason for change must be meaningful, firstly for the Leader and equally for the organisation. In some instances this is a “Burning Platform” in other words – ‘how we have been operating is no longer enough to keep us in business’ or ‘company performance is not trending in line with the industry’. This is often a market reality and a ‘no choice’ for the organisation.
In the rarer version the Leader or Leadership will have a vision that is so compelling that they fully commit themselves to the journey. Both versions contain risk – the latter however is a choice.
A step change – by definition – is a shift in ‘how we think’ translating into ‘how we operate’ and thus the results produced. In the same way that taking a leap of faith is a ‘no return’ moment – a transformational change process requires a way of thinking, connecting & working that is fundamentally different to anything we have done before. This shift requires a commitment that assumes the end point is the point of realised step change that we will recognise fully on arrival. So – whilst we must begin with an ‘end in mind’ we don’t cease until where we arrive matches our expectations of ‘step change’.