In this blog series I will outlined some of the root causes that drive the failure of change initiatives. Furthermore I would like to outline a solution developed by ProChain Solutions – the so called CORE Solution (Cycle of Results) (1) – which addresses these root causes. If CORE is implemented correctly and used as an ongoing process, it helps significantly in reducing or removing these root causes.
I would be delighted if you would share your opinion about the CORE Solution in a comment with my readers.
Why bother rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?
Employees often say things like this or similar ones like “Change is difficult” or “We’re not good at change.” if confronted with change in their company.
The people asked themselves:
- Why should they get involved in a change initiative if it most likely will fail anyway sooner or later?
- Why change if there is no need for it?
People have often seen initiatives fail; these failures tend to make people skeptical of new initiatives. These bad experiences, and stories of bad experiences, often cause people to take a wait-and-see attitude toward change. This attitude by itself reduces the momentum toward change. Key people—typically mid- and high-level managers—will not take ownership over the solution.
Without their ownership, resources and time remain scarce. When key people do not take ownership, others will assume that it is all right to sit on the fence. The more people there are sitting on the fence, the more key people are likely to avoid taking ownership. Without commitment any change initiative is doomed.
It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, meaning that the fact that people think the initiative will fail actually causes the failure due to a lack of commitment. The momentum towards change never picks up. This is called the Uptake Problem.
To overcome this problem you have to find or create a shared urgency within the company. It is not enough to get the buy-in from the management. All employees must believe that the proposed change initiative is not the “Titanic”, but a lifeboat which will take the company safely out of dangerous waters to future success.
Installing a feeling of urgency is a necessary condition for meaningful change. Urgency may be different for each person, so for example a senior leader may experience urgency to improve revenues, a project manager may experience urgency to deliver a project more quickly, and a worker may experience urgency to finish a specific task.
You will need to understand the urgency for different individuals, because they will not respond to urgency they do not feel. Very often, I have heard people say that they believed their change initiative had urgency “because my boss says so.” If it is their boss’s urgency, it is not theirs. If it is not theirs, they do not really feel it.
I have seen many change champions ultimately lose heart because they did not back up their passion with the ability to generate and communicate a sense of urgency that resonated with their audiences.
The best change initiative will fail if you can’t get EVERYBODY ON BOARD!
But not only urgency is required to overcome the uptake problem. The change initiative must also produce benefits for each and everyone in the company.
Read more about benefits, expectation and trust in my next blog. Part 2 will be online availabe from Nov. 26th on.
(1) developed by ProChain Solutions
Rob Newbold, Making Change Stick, from the book Cox III, James F., and Schleier Jr., John G.,eds. Theory of constraints handbook. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., 2010. p. 120