Saturday, February 11, 2012

Leading Change...

The book of the week was Leading Change by John P. Kotter. I got this book because change is one of the hardest things to successfully implement within an organization from the position of a leader. People are very hesitant to change and if you are fortunate enough to make a little change happen, if you don't follow through for a considerable amount of time everything that you changed will quickly revert back to what it was.

This is a very specific task within leadership that not a lot of people are charged with implementing. And now the meat and potatoes, I am going to run down Kotters Eight Stage Process of Creating Major Change:

1. Establish A Sense of Urgency
-Examining the market and competitive realities
-Identifying and discussing crises, potential crises, or major opportunities

2. Create a Guiding Coalition
-Putting together a group with enough power to lead the change
-Getting the group to work together like a team

3. Developing a Vision and Strategy
-Creating a vision to help direct the change effort
-Developing strategies for achieving that vision

4. Communicating the Change Vision
-Using every vehicle possible to constantly communicate the new vision and strategies
-Having the guiding coalition role model the behavior expected of employees

5. Empowering Broad-Based Action
-Getting rid of obstacles
-Changing systems or structures that undermine the change vision
-Encouraging risk taking and nontraditional ideas, activities, and actions

6. Generating Short-Term Wins
-Planning for visible improvements in performance, or "wins"
-Creating those wins
-Visibly recognizing and rewarding people who made the wins possible

7. Consolidating Gains And Producing More Change
-Using increased credibility to change all systems, structures, and policies that don't fit together and don't fit the transformation vision
-Hiring, promoting, and developing people who can implement the change vision
-Reinvigorating the process with new projects, themes, and change agents

8. Anchoring New Approaches In The Culture
-Creating better performance through customer and productivity-oriented behavior, more and better leadership, and more effective management
-Articulating the connections between new behaviors and organizational success
-Developing means to ensure leadership development and succession

I think the problem that leaders make all too often is jumping into change without really planning. You need communication with individuals on every level to see what problems are and what the best course of action is to solve them. Just jumping in and creating change is leading blind and can lead to a lot of resentment by the people within the organization. Additionally, as I said earlier, people celebrate after a couple small wins.. this too leads to resentment. Big change takes months or even years to successfully change the underlining culture.

I liked this book. I think it is the most detailed book I have read on changing behaviors and cultures. If this is something you have the intention to do within your organization, read this book. It will help. As always, if you have any questions on the book don't hesitate to ask. I would be more than happy to help anyone that wants it.

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