November 24, 2009
The more an initiative’s makeup reflects being “in crisis,” the greater the likelihood of failure, the lower the quality of results and the longer it takes to reach intended outcomes. To compensate for these risks, sponsors who succeed with change typically ensure that more attention/resources (mindshare, knowledge, skill, money, people, courage, and discipline) are allotted to these endeavors.
Fortunately, there is a clear pattern for leaders who consistently achieve their change goals.
February 2, 2010
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi
If we are to be effective at helping clients understand and manage complex change, we must not only have the ability to educate and facilitate—we must also model the behavior we need to see in those we serve.
Who we are particularly affects our relationships with senior sponsors. Many practitioners haven’t come to terms with that fact. I’ve heard internal agents say, “I like being assigned to high-level leaders, but I can’t be a role model for people that high up in our organization. Anyone at that level won’t relate to me in that way anyway, but I don’t really see myself as someone a senior officer should imitate.”
This kind of self-image limits the practitioner to tactical influence at best. We have to see ourselves as not only change specialists, but also exemplars for the sponsors we serve. Yes, it’s challenging, but without this aspect to the relationship, our guidance will seem more theoretical than practical (it may sound good but doesn’t translate to real life). Even worse, we can appear to the sponsor as providing questionable, if not bogus, guidance.
February 9, 2010
As a change practitioner, you’ve probably seen the impact of major change on your team’s or department’s productivity. Humans have a limited capacity to absorb the disruption that change creates. When an individual faces more demand for change than he or she can absorb, the result is an increase in dysfunctional behavior.
To adapt successfully, individuals must increase their speed of change. I’m not talking about the velocity at which things around them are changing, but rather how fast they can recover from their own disrupted expectations. When people are able to function at their optimum speed of change, they can absorb significant disruption with minimal dysfunction. The key to increasing a person’s speed of change is resilience.
Resilient people are no less vulnerable than others to the stresses of change. They can’t prevent disruptions, but the results of a change are often more fruitful and less damaging for them. Resilient people bounce back quickly; they do not become victims of change.
February 16, 2010
When people adapt to change, they need to apply their mental, physical, and emotional energy to adjust to new circumstances. Based on our own observations and review of research, we’ve identified a set of five “change muscles” that help people use their energy more effectively during change. Let’s take a closer look:
Resilient people are positive. They can see possibilities in even the most discouraging of situations, and opportunities amidst potential dangers. They also see themselves as having the capability to deal with challenging situations. As a result, they are better able to engage their energy in change rather than retreating, worrying, or engaging in defensive, unproductive activities.
Resilient people are focused. They know what’s important to them, and have a clear sense of priorities. In the midst of ambiguity, there are often many conflicting demands for attention. Resilient people recognize that they can’t do everything. They are able to say “no” to the less important things so they can focus their energy on the few most critical issues.
February 23, 2010
In my last post, I wrote about the five characteristics of resilience: positive, focused, flexible, organized, and proactive as they apply to individuals going through change.
Now I’d like to expand the notion of resilience to a larger context. Think about teams going through change. Research shows that under certain circumstances, teams can be more effective than a collection of individuals. How this happens is another topic, synergy, which I will focus on at a later date. For now, I’d like to share our observation that teams can create exceptionally strong and effective responses to change if they can draw on the varied resilience strengths of members. A team in which the least positive person sets the emotional tone for the group,
May 26, 2010
“What we call chaos is just patterns we haven’t recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can’t decipher. What we can’t understand we call nonsense. What we can’t read we call gibberish.” ~Chuck Palahniuk
How do we make sense out of the often extremely complicated and confusing dynamics that influence the outcomes of our change initiatives? And once we understand what’s going on, how do we help our sponsors (and, of course, agents and targets) grasp what is unfolding and choose the best course of action, given the present circumstances?
We could use simplistic explanations, but those don’t describe the depth of the situation. Too often, we get lost in the convoluted intricacies of the change and offer help that is more baffling than enlightening. Instead, what we must find,
June 1, 2010
Once you understand that a specific mindset and its associated behaviors can either facilitate or impede success, you have a level of insight that can be truly invaluable to a sponsor who is less familiar with these kinds of change dynamics.
Mindsets are made up of frames of reference (the ways individuals make sense of situations) that lead to the formation of priorities (the relative importance of various options). Shared mindsets within an organization serve as the foundations of culture and ultimately lead to common patterns of behavior.
Successful change requires a specific mindset that is shared among key players as they perform their respective roles. This “success mindset” reflects the