Posted on:Apr 242013
Posts From: Dr. Andrea Shapiro
Posted on:Feb 262013
In a post last March, I introduced the Seven Levers of Change. The levers describe actions that leaders can to use to shape an environment that fosters change. They include introducing employees to the change program, taking advantage of the knowledge and commitment of employees who understand and appreciate its value, and creating an environment that supports employees getting on board to support the program. Subsequent posts described applying the levers in different change initiatives. For example, an April post discussed a multiplier effect of using them together and August described choosing the levers appropriate for a specific initiative.
Posted on:Jan 252013
Until the latter part of the last century, “stakeholder” referred exclusively to a person who held the stakes in a wager. It has come to mean anyone who has an interest in or is affected by the actions of a business, professional association, political group, or non-profit. For an organizational change initiative, a stakeholder is any person whose participation, support, or decisions can influence the outcome of the initiative. This typically means customers and employees, but can include suppliers and even the community.
Posted on:Nov 302012
When an organizational change initiative requires new technology, it is easy to focus on the technology at the expense of supporting the employees who will actually be using it. Fairly narrow initiatives are especially vulnerable to this. For example, a small firm switched their email program. This should have been a very straightforward change. However, they ran into problems. These problems stemmed directly from their focus on installing the new software at the expense of preparing employees who where expected to use it.
Posted on:Oct 292012
Some interesting email spam recently landed in my inbox...well, interesting for someone involved in change management. The email had dramatic pictures of bald eagles, and its message was about what eagles can teach us about change. It claimed that a bald eagle can live to be 70 years old—a bit over twice its average life span—by going through a “rebirth.” This rebirth involves dire, difficult, and distressing physical actions—any single one of which would likely kill the bird. The conclusion of the spam was that the eagle has a lesson for all of us: to move forward, and make a significant change, we must take painful steps to rid ourselves of the past.
Posted on:Sep 262012
When the doors open in the London subway, a disembodied voice warns you to “Mind the gap!” It’s a practical reminder not to step into the space between the train and the platform. Being mindful of spaces or gaps is also good advice for any sort of communication. As human beings, we tacitly fill in the gaps to make sense of what we hear or read. It is done automatically, without thought, and it makes communication possible. Otherwise, each spoken or written sentence would have to include every bit of context and reasoning. Even though we cannot do with out it, this sort of tacit fill-in-the-blanks also has the potential to cause confusion.
Posted on:Aug 222012
My March blog post introduced the Seven Levers of Change. Used together, these levers engage employees and help them recognize the potential of a change initiative. The levers deal with getting the word out (Personal Contacts and Mass Exposure), gaining expertise (Hire Advocates), dealing with resistance (Shift Resisters), and fostering an environment that encourages people to adopt practices necessary to make the change successful (Infrastructure, Walk the Talk, and Reward & Recognition). The seven levers have the most synergy when used together.
Posted on:Jul 302012
The phrase “short-termism” was coined to describe the financial markets’ focus on quarterly reports and quick profits at the expense of long-term value and sustainability. In organizational change initiatives, we often see something similar: quick fixes applied to urgent problems—or problem symptoms— that ultimately undermine the initiative. Last July, I wrote about applying systems thinking to break the cycle of short-termism. Recall that systems thinking is a tool to help clarify the underlying interactions and interrelationships that cause the everyday events that we experience. Seeing and understanding this causal structure improves decision making by demonstrating both the short-term and long-term effects that can result from any decision.
Posted on:Jun 222012
“It’s lonely at the top.” This old expression evokes an image of the single, decisive leader at the top of the pyramid. He hoards knowledge and authority while barking orders to subordinates who carry them out without question—like cogs in a machine. This model may have been effective when businesses and products were simpler, and competition was local or national but not global. Today, the top of the hierarchy simply cannot hoard all the know-how for an organization to make a successful product or service. Modern leadership is about direction and vision. It is more about what to do, and less about how to do it.
Posted on:May 222012
The rush for immediate results from an organizational change often ends with unintended consequences. Consider an example from a large, US-based service company. Senior managers recognized that their processes, especially for ordering materials, had become misaligned with their reporting structure. They were planning a large-scale reorganization to clarify the reporting structures, simplify the ordering processes, and realign the two. Like in many companies, senior management kicked off the change with a big, all-hands announcement that outlined the benefits expected from streamlining the processes and coordinating them with the reporting structure. The announcement did not fall on deaf ears, so much as ears distracted by other concerns.