The greatest key to success in dealing with significant change is to understand that change must be led – it cannot be managed. Managing implies an orderly application of plans, processes, and resources. Unfortunately change is rarely easily contained and channeled with a simple plan, predictable processes, and simply telling your resources what you expect of them.
When you are leading change it is more like riding a bunking bronco. You may know many of the kinds of moves you can expect, but you can never know exactly how they will be thrown at you. Good preparation is essential, and understanding the kind of preparation a leader needs when facing a large chasm to cross enhances the likelihood of success. Let’s look at what the most fundamental fulcrum for leveraging success is.
When you want to successfully engage people in making change, you must increase the value that people perceive in making the change. Too many companies go through what I call the ‘strategy du jour’ dance. You know how it goes: They have a new strategy this day, and then another one the next day. Most people around them have the attitude of, “Whoa! I’m going to avoid that new directive, and I’m definitely going to avoid this one, because we’ve got another one coming next week.”
Too many companies suffer from changing their strategies far too often – which confuses their people as to what is really most important to focus on, think about, and do.
Here is the critical factor: When your people are is in one place, whether it is your organization, a team, or your clients, and you want them onboard with change or a new strategy – your value proposition must be more compelling than what they have today.
If they see that the value of the new strategy is going to be significantly greater than what they have now, they are going to sign up for it. If they cannot see a real and compelling value that comes out of making the change, then the pain of change and the inertia inherent in habits makes people decide it is not worth the effort.
What are people thinking about when you suggest the change you want to make? They are thinking first about the hassle of change. They then ask themselves whether what you are suggesting offers a viable, visible, meaningful increase in value to them and the organization? If not, why would they bother going through the hassle of changing?
You know easy it is to get stuck in our habits. Your people are going to be weighing the value of making the effort to change those habits. If they can easily and clearly see how much better the new state of possibilities can be, and how much more valuable it will be to them, then they are willing to sign up for the change. If they cannot see a great difference in value – you are not going to move them very easily.
Your key job in leading change is to significantly raise the level of value the change offers – and make sure your people understand this value proposition.
When you do that, it totally changes their willingness to engage and evolve and embrace the change with enthusiasm. With every change of meaningful impact and implications, a clear understanding of its value is critical to getting it successfully implemented.