Your transformational initiatives (TIs) are now moving forward. But are they going to succeed or will the entire process wither as many flavor-of-the-month corporate initiatives do?
If you’re the CEO, the business owner, or the leader of the organization by any title, the fates of the TIs are up to you. This is where a lot of leaders falter-they’ve established the TIs, they’ve put people in place to run them, and they’ve got great goals. But they lack follow-through. No one keeps the commitments. This leads to an enormous amount of frustration, and it’s when off-site euphoria turns into “fire the consultant.” So how do you prevent this kind of unfortunate situation?
John Kotter published “The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations” with Harvard Business School Press in 2002 in which he talked about the need to:
1. create a sense of urgency,
2. develop a team to guide change,
3. clearly communicate the vision,
4. knock down obstacles,and
5. create and publicize short-term wins.
Robert H. Miles, co-authored the book “Big Ideas to Big Results” with the Financial Times Press in 2008 where he talked about the six speed brakes on your company initiatives as:
1. cautious management,
2. business-as-usual management practices,
3. initiative gridlock,
4. recalcitrant executives,
5. disengaged employees and
6. loss of focus during execution.
Keep the Momentum Going
Three more steps to consider when your transformational initiatives start to loose steam:
First, it’s essential to review TIs on a regular basis. You’ve got to be diligent about receiving regular reports, be they weekly, bi- weekly, or monthly. It’s up to you to make sure that your people stay focused on the TIs with which they have been tasked. If they don’t sense a continuing urgency from the top, they’ll find other actions with which to occupy their time-crisis management, their own initiatives, or just simply returning e-mail and running in place. Your diligence must be manifested in terms of expecting or demanding regular reports, so you know what exactly is going on. The reports should contain information about schedules, milestones, returns on investments, roadblocks, outcomes, outputs, wins and opportunities.
Second, it’s important to recognize that TIs are invariably related. There will be inevitable conflicts with regard to resources. Perhaps one of your TIs calls for a change in packaging, and that in turn requires a new agreement with a sourcing company. Another of your TIs has targeted subcontracts management as a problem area and has decided to change the way all vendors are managed, so renegotiation of contracts is not possible with your sourcing company right now. You’ve got to play referee, and you’ve got to be able to make decisions, if not on the fly, then fairly quickly. That’s because momentum is key to ensuring the health and success of a transformational initiative.
The third key involves managing the various stakeholders inside and outside of your business. Folks that really know their stakeholders are lobbyists. You may not have fond thought of lobbyists, but if you’ve ever seen a good one in action, its akin to watching the plate balancers from the old Ed Sullivan Show (ancient pop culture reference) perform on stage. They know just what resources are required, who needs attention and when to spin another. Sounds like corporate change to me! Leaders working toward change, and aren’t we all, should keep the metaphor of the plate spinner in mind while keeping in mind the ultimate reason for the initiative!