Tag Archives: leadership and change

Managing Change

What Does it Take to Implement Change?

In a past post we shared some perspective about assessing workforce capability as well as leadership when planning a change or improvement initiative. Among other things, it was noted that without engaged, effective leadership it is difficult to implement the changes that are necessary for achieving a culture of continuous improvement.

Effective leadership is about driving change. The ability to anticipate, lead and manage change is a critical indicator of organizational success.

But, of course, change does not “just happen.” It takes place when leaders at all levels see opportunities and get others to share their passion about what can be accomplished.

Strong leaders provide the initial and ongoing energy for change. Without strong leadership, most change efforts will fail. As noted in our previous post, implementation is the key step. Simply making speeches, declaring a new mission or vision and handing out short-term rewards alone will not cut it; management must advocate, lead and support change, and do so not only at the “launch” but throughout the implementation phase and beyond.

It’s also important to remember that people will only follow leaders if they trust them, if they see the need for change, and if they are involved in creating the change. Change is brought about by a combination of strong leadership, human relations systems, beliefs, values and cultural practices. They are the true catalysts to sustained change and improvement.

Change Like a Green Tomato

changeThe ability to anticipate, lead and manage change is a critical indicator of organizational success.

As suggested in a recent post,  strong leadership is a key requirement when it comes to driving change and continuous improvement; and as noted in one of last year’s posts, it is much easier to change when you can rather than when forced to do so!

This is a critically-important reality… too many organizations slip into complacency when things are going “well,” and only contemplate change when their performance is unsatisfactory — when they’re forced into it!

There are countless examples of how this latter approach can quickly lead to disaster! Kodak, Polaroid, and Blockbuster, to name just a few…

Instead, change and continuous improvement must become the “cultural way.”

Possibly Jim Press, former President of Toyota Motor North America, summed-it-up best during an interview by saying, “Toyota wants to be a green tomato.”

His point was that green tomatoes are in a constant state of change; they know their futures are still ahead of them, while red tomatoes have stopped growing.

 

Leadership a Predictor of Successful Improvement

crystalball
Numerous leadership issues can predict an improvement project’s success

Most people readily agree that an organization’s top management must support and be committed to an improvement initiative if that initiative is to be successful.

As you may recall, in an earlier post we shared information about a method for predicting the success of continuous improvement projects, which involves rating potential projects in eleven key areas on a scale of 1-10. One of these key areas involves the above-referenced commitment by senior management.

But in addition,  three more of those eleven criteria refer to the importance of leadership’s role, which are:

  • The sponsor and team leader are clear about each one’s role and partner effectively to ensure the success of the project. (10 = very clear)
  • The team leader and key resources are devoting enough of their time to the project to complete it very quickly. (10= full time)
  • The team is staffed and led by the right people for the job, and they are determined and capable to quickly achieve results.

Changing & Sustaining Culture

cultureandleadershipConcluding our “culture” theme, our Partners in Improvement groups discussed this subject during one of or recent sessions, and specifically focused on ways to change, support and sustain a culture that is aligned with a new strategic direction.

While peer pressure was identified as one component of helping people try to assimilate to the group they are in, the interchange was primarily geared toward how organizations can take more formal steps to sustain this important ingredient to success.

For example, sustaining the culture may include hiring people with values that are consistent with the culture. Some organizations try to identify these people through focusing on values in the interview process or using psychological profiles to identify people who would be likely to embrace the culture and those whose values would push them in a different direction.

Some organizations use publications and meetings to celebrate, reward, and reinforce examples of the culture in action. Others design measurement systems to support and reinforce the culture and behaviors they want to see.

For example, one of our Partners, in a successful attempt to build a culture of continuous improvement, has implemented a performance management system that rewards people who participated in an improvement over the past year; and the improvement must meet specific criteria:

  • Done
  • Quantified
  • Successfully run for a period of time
  • Standardized

Another Partner company puts everyone through a five day course to help people learn to work effectively in teams. Yet another has a course that emphasizes culture that every single employee must take. And some are sent back to take it a second time!

But the Partners Forum and the literature overwhelmingly suggest that culture is most powerfully influenced by the leadership… and in particular leadership’s behavior that is consistent with the culture.

“Living it begins at the top. If people don’t see the executives living and displaying the corporate values that they expect others to live by, the end is near.” [Ryan Rieches]

 

Leadership & Change

changeContinuing on the theme of “managing change,” it is important to recognize that change does not “just happen.” Instead it takes place when leaders at all levels see opportunities and get others to share their passion about what can be accomplished.

Strong leaders provide the initial and ongoing energy for change. Without strong leadership, most change efforts will fail. Making speeches or presentations, declaring a new mission or vision and handing out short-term rewards alone will not cut it; management must advocate, lead and support change.

People will only follow leaders if they trust them, if they see the need for change, if they believe change will benefit “all” parties, and if they are involved in creating the change.

In addition to strong leadership, sustained change is brought about by a combination of human relations systems, beliefs, values and cultural practices. They are the true catalysts to sustained change and improvement.

Thinking that people will make profound changes in their thinking and behavior after just a one-time training class or multi-day workshop is not realistic.

Leaders must get personally involved in sponsoring, leading and implementing change.

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