In 1995, John Kotter wrote one of the best Harvard Business Review (HBR) articles on change within a company, “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail.” To this day, his eight steps to transformation are still considered the road map. Recently, in December of 2009, HBR did a Facebook poll on which of Kotter’s steps to transformation were the most challenging for your company. The results were interesting:
.01 Empowering others to act on the vision: 27%
.02 Establishing a sense of urgency: 20%
.03 Institutionalizing new approaches: 13%
.04 Creating a vision to guide the change: 13%
.05 Communicating the vision: 10%
.06 Forming a team to lead change: 9%
.07 Creating short-term wins: 7%
.08 Producing still more change: 2%
Interestingly, a changeologist from UKNY Consulting, Alan Ibbotson, stated in the March HBR that “Too many efforts lose steam because of the lack of communication and because leaders of the effort get complacent after a few small wins.” Lose steam? This is an interesting and insightful observation.
If you look at Kotter’s eight steps, they all require passion, creativity, and focus. But how passionate, creative, and focused are you when you are exhausted, sleep deprived, hypoglycemic, overwhelmed, and full of negative thoughts? The foundation of all of this change is your energy, resilience, brain-agility, and capacity. Unfortunately, for too many leaders these things are left to chance and this is why they lack the executional stamina to succeed with their transformation. Losing steam is an epidemic in the leadership ranks, especially after this latest recession.
At Tignum, we believe that the first thing any leader and his or her team should do before they begin a transformation, is to develop the sustainable high performance strategies and habits they are going to need to execute the change. Without this, you are wasting your time and your effort, and more importantly, you are destroying the willingness of the organization to change. This isn’t a “nice to have”, it’s a strategic must.
By Scott Peltin
Founder & Chief Performance Officer