The necessity for Change

“Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics.”

10 team skills at the heart of every leader’s arsenal.

transcript written by Wayne Brown

Welcome to CHANGE or at least the “Necessity for Change.” As you can see from my appearance, we leave no stone unturned to re-enforce this message – visually and informatively.

We plan to paint a convincing picture of why your relationship with change is such a formative part of your Leadership credentials during this video. And how you can help others understand and follow your lead during what can be a highly dynamic and, therefore, challenging process to fulfill at work.

We have already aligned your chances for success in advance through the earlier topics introduced, so this exercise is just an extension of those learnings. While you may not realize it, we are living a life of constant daily change.

The only difference between change at work and change in your private life is that we may not always be in control of making the change at work, and therefore we become concerned by the uncertainty & potential impact. Let’s take a closer look at this concept as we launch into the topic. 

What age are you now? – in my case, I’m nearing 60, and as I cast my mind back to the earliest times I can recall – maybe around 3 or 4 years of age, I can see that things were quite different then compared to just five years later when I started playing competitive sport.

During those five years, of course, there was constant change as I developed and learned exponentially. Then the next ten years, moving from primary to high school (freedom!) These first 15 or so years were so formative, influencing my thoughts, my values and offering experiences that created my beliefs and shaped my behaviors. Ah, the memories …. But of course, it didn’t stop there; change continued during the next ten years – experiencing girls, cars, the beach, sport and introducing this thing called a job. And then a further ten years – the feeling of responsibility kicks in, with the addition of family, on top of work pressures.

Whatever your age or images, I’m sure you can see that until today your life has been in a constant flux of change – some of it planned and intentional, some forced and some unexpected. During this time, we reacted and responded, but we survived and most likely are stronger in our minds as a result.

On a personal level, technology has had a significant influence on the changes in my world – the use of calculators only came into practice towards the end of my high school years—computers a few years after that. I purchased my first desktop in 1986 with a DOS operating system and 20MB hard drive for AUD 5000. Ten years later, I read a book written by Bill Gates called Crossroads. He predicted that in five years, we would all be walking around with our world in our back pocket  – while his prediction was a little ambitious, it was an image that certainly painted a picture of significant change ahead. Today as we shoot this video, we are entering another significant moment in history where change is reshaping our lives – the technical convergence of AI, IoT, Internet 3.0, 5G, Quantum computing, autonomous vehicles, and the list goes on. I look at my five-year-old daughter, and I can’t help but wonder what her teenage life will be like ten years from now.

So, as we shift that image of constant change occurring everywhere in our personal lives across into the workplace, we need to ask why it becomes such an emotional process.

We know that all business, profit or non-profit, exists to provide a product and service to the customer which addresses their pain.

These pains (needs) change, and therefore a company’s solution also needs to change right. And we have witnessed countless examples over the decades where once-dominant companies in their field have disappeared entirely.

Why for the simple reason that they didn’t understand or ignored those changing needs. So the message is that a company that fails to keep pace with the changes happening all around it will soon be extinct.

Naturally, there is a range of considerations for all companies during any change process. What is the impact on employees? To the customer and with the systems and procedures? And importantly, the company culture?

We’ll be exploring a number of these elements as we delve deeper into this video.

For now, see if you can recall some industry titans from the past couple of decades that no longer exist or forced into a different direction? And by contrast, who are the current day titans (those dominating the landscape).

Past companies such as Kodak, compared to the Amazons, Microsoft, Apple, and Google who are presently shaping much of our current and future lives – history will tell the story, whether all of these will survive 20 years from now.

And then we have fewer examples of those mega-companies such as Disney that have been able to weather the changing storm and continue to dominate decade after decade. What is the secret to their success? I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a fascinating topic.

Where to start in unraveling some of the reasons? We have decided to introduce first the neurological aspect, as we’ve touched on this already with the Motivational discussion. It’s the fundamentals of what drives our emotions and subsequent behaviors.

We can explain this simplest by showing either the 5 stage Kubler-Ross Change Curve depicting morale & competence or using a more vivid example through the Claes Jansen Change House model.

The Kubler-Ross model illustrates five stages along a curve. Kubler-Ross places denial, frustration, depression, experiment & decision at different locations on the curve, measured across a time axis. In our graphic illustration, we have overlaid the curve onto the house to give you some resemblance of how this might work.

Typically, we start from the status quo (from contentment where everything is proceeding as normal, and we feel relaxed, comfortable there’s no sign of any storm looming – you might say the sun is shining and the birds are singing.

Suddenly, the environment encounters a change. I’m shocked and in denial of the need for such a change. As time progresses, we move to frustration and anger.

If not dealt with correctly, people may get stuck here. The best practice is to allow those involved to express their annoyance as part of the healing process.

After which, the realization starts to set in, and we often see depression or general apathy towards the situation. The good news is this is the turning point, and if you, as the leader, are present and supportive, we begin to climb out of the negative situation.

However, the next phase is that enter a state of confusion which is often the greatest challenge. Something may feel wrong, but we’re not sure what to do to make things right.

We could be tense with feelings of inferiority and doubts – this is where we will start to experiment with the new changes. To develop our understanding further and grow in our confidence about accommodating and using them.

We need to be conscious here that the new environment might not suit everyone. There is a risk that people may not accept the situation instead opting to leave and seek a different setting rather than stay. Finally, with more time, experience, and guidance, we reach the final stage or room – we make the decision to accept the changes and start to embrace them: they rebuild their ways of working. Only when people get to this stage can the organization begin to reap the rewards of the change initiative.

As you may imagine, there is a large degree of preparation and careful planning required to have any chance of success during any change initiative. Clearly understanding where you are today and what the future state looks like through both mindset and behaviors.

Give due consideration to your stakeholder’s reactions (whether it’s your team, customers, suppliers, etc.) and make this based on their motivation, attitude, and abilities.

And then finally, being able to think through the entire implementation process and communicating with clarity. By demonstrating your belief in the changes and leading from the front, ensuring that the necessary supporting systems, tools, or procedures are available and working. And exploring the need for additional stakeholder development, coaching, and guidance to enable implementation. You can see illustrated on the screen the four broad steps mentioned in this entire change process. We are now going to explore the requirements of the last two steps, starting with WHAT & HOW.

We focus on Mindset and Behavior Change using the “from-to” tool before introducing the implementation guideline technique called BCM or Behavior Change Model. And how to incorporate the Change Story for more powerful communications. 

With every Change initiative, clarity of purpose is extremely important. Starting therefore with the exercise to define “What is the current status and what is it we desire for the future” 

This definition then enables us to explore the stakeholders’ current related mindset. Changing the mindset to align with that defined future state is perhaps the most critical factor in achieving success within the change process.

It’s foundational in being able to reshape behavior, and so we introduce here a simple 3 part tool, which Leaders can utilize together with their stakeholders, and we start by identifying where they are today – i.e.

What is the current status? How do current behaviors and their underlying mindset support this status – which we list in the “From” column.

The tool provides us with powerful insights, as we have already defined our desired future state, and therefore we can now determine what our mindset and behavior need to look like to achieve that state.

Hence in the “To” column, we list these new thoughts, beliefs and rules, and necessary activities as a consequence. Based on this realization, we can then develop the necessary actions to drive that change in mindset and behavior from today to the future vision.

And therefore, the time has arrived to start making the change a reality. We consider the actions needed to implement this Change initiative and to be successful.

For those familiar with John Kotter’s famous 8 step Change model, you will notice some similarities in the model we are about to introduce. There are numerous models available to you, so feel free to utilize what works best for you.

In our case, we are going with a simple and visually easy four-quadrant model, referred to as the Behavior Change Model. Our four quadrants cover the actions required “Creating understanding,” Being a role model, aligning systems, and Building capabilities.

To create understanding, we need to focus on our Communications skills mentioned a little earlier. Ensuring that every stakeholder has clarity around the change reason. It’s the starting point where we provide the rationale – introducing the big picture and zooming in to the local level, outlining timing, approach, systems, training, etc.

Then address what I’m required to do as a result and what’s the impact. Later we introduce the “Change Story” technique to support you here.

From this, we move to quadrant 2. We explore the required actions for leaders to demonstrate their belief in this change.

You essentially want to illustrate that you champion the initiative and will lead the way with adoption. Don’t underestimate this step – the stakeholders will be watching you closely to gauge your buy-in.

Quadrant 3 & 4 help us consider the supporting systems, tools, processes, and training associated with this change. Are they available? It is part of the change involving new technology that replaces existing legacy systems and will generate extra workload to introduce resistance. Whatever the case, you need to have considered carefully the actions required and the resulting reactions. Rigorously, working through each of the four implementation stages will greatly increase your chances of success which in itself a significant achievement considering that 70% of all Change Initiatives fail.

And finally, to put the icing on the cake – let’s ensure that you can celebrate that success by providing all of your communication throughout the process are effective and engaging. To do so, we introduce easy to remember five key elements in developing our Change Story.

  1. Have the right parts and structure – i.e., make it personable, stating the BIG REASON WHY change is necessary. Paint the vision, the goals, what will they be doing differently in the future? What is expected of them, and what are the next steps?
  • Tie your story to a strong analogy – introduce a theme or fable which can be easily associated back to this change initiative and is enticing and motivating.
  • Grab the stakeholders’ attention with a teaser. – create some buzz and excitement within the story around the change process using something relevant and enforceable.
  • Spark emotions – the story should stir up emotions. Remember the motivational methods covered in Topic 2

And finally, as made famous by Stephen Covey in his 7 Habits – always have the end in mind. Make the ending of your story positive, and the recipients wanting to know more.

Something to keep firmly in mind throughout this entire Change process, and I’ll quote John Kotter again here – “Do not declare victory too soon.”

The secret is to remember the Change Curve and the reality that change is a process that takes time. People need the opportunity to work through their emotions, and while they can be supported and guided, not forced! So this brings us to the end of this topic, “Necessity for Change.” We hope you have gained a brief insight into the “Why What and How of Change?”

Our VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world today requires that we not only understand this change need but that we leaders must also champion the process.

As we move into our next and second last topic, “Pitching your value-based strategies,” we’ll take a peek into the need for balance between performance and values and the impact of strong culture based on diversity and inclusion.  How does this guide your approach in the pursuit of strategic objectives? Until then, stay safe and keep learning. Bye for now!