14 Jan Organizational Leadership and Vision of Change
Resistances are inevitable. But what can we do when the main obstacle for the change to happen is the inconsistency or contradictions between leaders or even the lack of support of some of them? Or maybe the lack of commitment of the work team? As a leader, your most critical role is to establish a clear vision and develop teams that believe in it, sustain it, and work to make the change happen.
Change is fundamentally cultural
Transformation projects can be very diverse. Digitization, incorporation of new methodologies, mergers, and acquisitions, restructuring, expansion into new markets, you name it. Each transformation is unique but, invariably, they all have the ultimate goal of making people think, see, and do differently.
How do we achieve this cultural change? Change management proposes a methodological point of view to help address the human dimension of change in order to develop and make new habits and behaviors sustainable.
The only way to transform the culture is if the change is sustained and permanently facilitated by organizational leadership. Having some leaders inspired and convinced that the change is worth it is always helpful, but not nearly enough. It takes a strong coalition of sponsors that convey consistent messages and generate resources for the change.
One of the key factors that enable this to happen is an aligned vision of the intended change. A Single Vision of Change.
Purpose and single vision of change
Most transformation projects start without much clarity on what change they want. Statements like “we want to change the culture”, “we want a Lean culture” or “we want continuous improvement” are often expressed.
The first step, then, is to help clarify the change. Defining a vision of change will allow to:
- gain clarity,
- align leaders (or at least start doing it)
- achieve consistency on the key messages to be delivered throughout the project
The Change Canvas or Vision of Change Canvas is a very useful tool that helps visualize the key elements of the change project. We recommend that leaders work on this canvas as a team and follow the proposed numerical path.
Change Canvas or Vision of Change Canvas
1. Single vision of change: It is the GPS that will guide the change. As a team, try to synthesize the desired change in a short sentence. At this stage, forget the limitations and difficulties that could arise. It is the moment to dream.
2. Impacted stakeholders: Analyze who are the different stakeholders involved and how they will be impacted by the change.
- In their day-to-day activities
- In their systems and technologies
- In their organization and culture
- In their job roles and functions
- In the layout and geographic location
- In their relationship with third parties
3. Future State: Describe what new habits and behaviors must exist in order to achieve and sustain the change.
- What habits and behaviors do we want to change?
- How do we define the new habits and behaviors that we need, for the change to be successful?
Connect the new habits and behaviors with the impacted stakeholders. This will allow you to design customized actions, saving time, and effort.
4. Risks of not changing: This point will help us understand the importance of the change. As a team, analyze:
- What if the change doesn’t happen?
- What are the benefits that would not be achieved or the losses to face?
5. Why the change and why now: We already know the risks, but are we really convinced that change is necessary? Understanding the need for change is essential in order to guarantee the leaders´ commitment to change.
- Why is this the time to change?
- Why is this change necessary?
6. Focus of the change plan: At this point, we must identify what aspects or attributes of the organization’s culture we need to focus on to achieve the desired change.
7. Key metrics: Next, we must define the indicators with which we are going to measure the evolution and impact of change management actions. This will allow us to react quickly if we are not accomplishing the goals.
8. Milestones and timeline: Defining a schedule and a deadline for the change will help organize the tasks, perceive progress throughout the project, and work in an agile way on iterative improvement.
- What will be the deadline for this project of change?
- What will be the key milestones in the change process?
Your work team and the cultural gap
Managing Change in an organization is not an easy task. First of all, it involves a joint effort among leaders to build a shared vision and sustain it. Now, we have already completed the canvas, we are all convinced that this is the change we want, what we need to change… what’s next?
Perhaps the most difficult task is to pass down the vision to the team. Each leader needs to involve his people in the change, make them feel part of the decisions made, have them understand and commit to the desired change in the same way the leaders do. How to achieve this kind of engagement if they have not been part of the vision´s creation?
At this point, it becomes essential to understand organizational culture. And, as a team leader, you also have to understand the culture of your own people. You cannot change what you do not understand.
- What resistances does your team present?
- What are the causes of this resistance?
An exhaustive culture diagnosis can save you a lot of time, as it will help you design a focused and assertive strategy.
Analyze actions, knowledge, procedures, features of culture, equipment, technology, regulations, habits and identify the strategic focuses of change. Where are you today and what is the cultural gap that you need to close to reach the desired change?
We cannot change an organization without transforming its culture. And we cannot transform organizational culture if this change is not sustained and driven by the leaders.
Defining a single vision of change is essential to align organizational leadership, define change objectives, and ensure general commitment to the project. This first step is the foundation of an effective transformation.
Second, for change to really happen and be sustained over time, it is necessary that all members of the organization commit to the vision and work to make it a reality. Once we have defined the change we want, we must understand where we are today and what is the gap that separates us from that desired state.
Now you know what change you want, where you are in relation to it, and what you need to achieve it. You’re ready to start designing your change plan and managing the journey toward that goal.
Authors: Carolina Sordelli and Martín Molteni