Placeholder Image

Contact Us

Form submitted successfully!
Home » Blog » Change is The Only Constant

So said Heraclitus, an ancient Greek philosopher. What was true more than 2,000 years ago is just as true today. We live in a world where “business as usual” is change. New initiatives, project-based working, technology improvements, staying ahead of the competition – these things come together to drive ongoing changes to the way we work. Whether you’re considering a small change to one or two processes, or a system-wide change to an organization, it’s common to feel uneasy and intimidated by the scale of the challenge. There are many theories about how to “do” change. Many originate with leadership and change management guru, John Kotter. A professor at Harvard Business School and world-renowned change expert, Kotter introduced his eight-step change process in his 1995 book, “Leading Change.” While the latter four (remove obstacles, celebrate short-term wins, build, and sustain the momentum) are very similar to the Nudge theory (refer to our blog for more info) we will focus on the four initial steps required to kickstart the change-

  1. Create urgency- For change to happen, it helps if the whole company really wants it. Develop a sense of urgency around the need for change. This may help you spark the initial motivation to get things moving. This isn’t simply a matter of showing people poor sales statistics or talking about increased competition. Open an honest and convincing dialogue about what’s happening in the marketplace and with your competition. If many people start talking about the change you propose, the urgency can build and feed on itself. Kotter suggests that for change to be successful, 75 percent of a company’s management needs to “buy into” the change. In other words, you have to work really hard on Step 1 and spend significant time and energy building urgency, before moving on to the next steps.
  2. Form a powerful coalition- Convince people that change is necessary. This often takes strong leadership and visible support from key people within your organization. Managing change isn’t enough – you have to lead it. You can find effective change leaders throughout your organization – they don’t necessarily follow the traditional company hierarchy. To lead change, you need to bring together a coalition, or team, of influential people whose power comes from a variety of sources, including job title, status, expertise, and political importance. Once formed, your “change coalition” needs to work as a team, continuing to build urgency and momentum around the need for change.
  3. Create a vision for change- When you first start thinking about change, there will probably be many great ideas and solutions floating around. Link these concepts to an overall vision that people can grasp easily and remember. A clear vision can help everyone understand why you’re asking them to do something. When people see for themselves what you’re trying to achieve, then the directives they’re given tend to make more sense.
  4. Communicate the vision- What you do with your vision after you create it will determine your success. Your message will probably have strong competition from other day-to-day communications within the company, so you need to communicate it frequently and powerfully and embed it within everything that you do. Don’t just call special meetings to communicate your vision. Instead, talk about it every chance you get. Use the vision daily to make decisions and solve problems. When you keep it fresh on everyone’s minds, they’ll remember it and respond to it. It’s also important to “walk the talk.” What you do is far more important – and believable – than what you say. Demonstrate the kind of behaviour that you want from others.

If we devote ourselves to dedicated research, we will find many models and theories describing change and change management- often organisational. However, the very first step of the Kotter change management theory- creating a sense of urgency within the organisation about the change is one of the major points that can kickstart powerful conversations. It’s human nature to maintain the status quo and have some form of resistance to the new change. However, a sense of urgency can often spark the initial motivation to initiate a change implementation process. It’s crucial to communicate the need, and reason, for any change for employees to see change as a possible solution to an existing problem.

The Four Change Principles of Kotter’s Change Management Model-

  • Leadership + Management- This principle emphasizes the need for bringing in leadership to help with the change initiative. There is more than one executive involved here. Step 2 of Kotter’s 8-step method calls for you to create a leadership team that includes people with various titles. The leadership team, according to this principle, should be about: “Vision, Action, Innovation, and Celebration.”
  • Mind + Heart- People are motivated by different things. Some people are more motivated by the desire to contribute to a greater cause and be a part of something bigger rather than the logic that the change would be more successful or productive. This principle is important because your strategy must take into account what motivates each person so they can succeed in changing their behaviour or attitude about something new you want to implement at work.
  • Select Few + Diverse Many- Rather than simply giving people orders, you should give them the chance to lead. It’s critical to empower individuals so they feel like they’re a part of the project while you’re developing your team in Step 4 of Kotter’s model. This principle from Kotter’s change management theory states that if you do it right, you could simply discover new leaders you didn’t know existed.
  • “Have To” + “Want To”- This concept in the Kotter change management model says that people respond better and can become greater change advocates if they WANT to help rather than merely doing what they are told to do.

Thus, change must be backed by solid principles as well. The methods are many, with Kotter spearheading a lot of them. An organisation must judge the pros and cons of each process while they decide what is good for them. Good luck with your change process!

Blog you later!