There are some simple reasons why companies fail to transition to a successful future. I have grabbed the trends from the research and coupled with my experience, come up with the six most significant ‘fences’. To successfully complete your Grand National, the CEO should be able to easily mitigate these real and present risks. Just knowing what they are puts you half way there, well at least approaching the first fence.
- The Deceptive Fence. Lack of genuine commitment from senior leaders. Know your leadership group and make sure that senior leaders are engaged, interested and supportive. Our research identified senior leadership sponsorship of change to be a silver bullet to successful transition. That doesn’t just mean you. Leaders at all levels can thwart progress but it’s the senior ones that will have the greatest impact for better or for worse.
- The Water Jump. Taking our eyes off the customer. Most change effort is directed towards internal efficiency and effectiveness because that is where the biggest problems lie and you can do something about it. In there lies the paradox, your sustained success is dependent on the desire of the customer to continue to purchase your products and services. Become too introspective and ignore the landscape in which your customer lives – that’s a difficult water jump right there.
- The Obscured Fence. Lack of clarity about what success looks like (crystal clear vision). I have written about this in previous posts. Be crystal clear on the ‘why’ of the change. That is clarity about the purpose, the process and the benefit. People want your vision, they are interested in your personal, authentic view on what success looks like. Be clear in your message, test it with a 15-year-old to check for clarity and impact.
- The Double Fence. Little or insincere consultation coupled with jargon filled communication. Consult with people in the development of change. Include your early adopters and clan leaders. Clan leaders are those people that have the personal power to influence change significantly. They may not be found in senior roles, but they have an abundance of personal power that they continually exert through informal communication channels in the enterprise. Tap into them using simple, jargon-free language. The simpler the language the clearer the message (which means the clearer you are about your intent).
- The Unexpected Ditch. No process to actively manage change. Like any important activity in your enterprise, successful change requires a deliberate process. The process should be transparent and include components such as action plans, risk assessments, progress monitoring, realignment activity and communication schedules. A deliberate process brings accountability and clarity to the transition and adds credibility to the seriousness of the endeavour.
- The Final Fence. Not understanding that people transition through change differently. Let’s change metaphors; not all ships leave harbour at the same speed. Don’t expect that blanket messages will have any effect. Personal transition through change is a highly personal challenge and people get onboard at different rates. Use your leaders at all levels to personalise messages and conduct one-on-one engagements with staff to ensure people understand where they fit, where they will be challenged and where they will benefit. This is where leadership comes to the fore. Encourage your leaders to inspire positive change as your enterprise reaches into its future success.
The Last Furlong. It takes energy but preparing for each fence and mitigating each risk will help you to successfully complete the race in good order, fully functioning, successfully achieving the vision without the damage along the way.
Keep on inspiring!
Dan Jackson is the author of “The Leader Who Inspires – increase your influence and ignite your passion to succeed” and the creator of LWI Advance Your Career.