Leading Change – Envisioning the Future and Results

by Kathie Thomas

Leading Change - Envisioning the Future and ResultsAs I said on this blog last time, I made a commitment this summer to exploring organizational transformation. I want to now share some information about developing the context for internal and external change.

Last week, I introduced four things that effective leaders of change must do. Today I’d like to talk about envisioning the future and results.

In a recent Harvard Business Review blog, Harvard Business School Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter said “a clear destination is necessary to guide the journey of change. Many change efforts falter because of confusion over exactly where everyone is expected to arrive.”

Of course, we don’t always know what our final destination is. However, answering the above questions will help you envision where you want to go and provide your employees with steps for getting there.

But it’s important to keep the steps simple and easy to understand. Otherwise, Kanter said, people can feel paralyzed and nothing gets done.

Technology consultant and writer Steve Tobak offered five questions that “must be answered for any organizational change to be effective” on BNET.com in February 2009. I think it’s important to answer these questions as you start your change efforts.

  1. What problem are we trying to solve? Make sure you know exactly what your challenges are. As Tobak said, “you have to be crystal clear, not on what you’re trying to achieve – that comes later – but on what’s wrong that needs to be righted.”
  2. What’s the current situation? Much like a situation analysis in marketing or a Present Position Brief in innovation, it’s important to determine where your organization stands now. What are your assets and challenges? What’s going on with your employees and your stakeholders?
  3. What are our ultimate objectives? “Once you know the problem and your starting point, the next step is to figure out where you want to take the organization or company in the next two to three years,” Tobak said. Again, you might not know your final destination, but setting goals will help you get there.
  4. What needs to change to meet your objectives? What will it take to achieve your goals? Restructuring? Reorganization? Mergers? According to Tobak, “this is where you make critical decisions, assess risks and ultimately arrive at a plan.”
  5. What process should we employ? “Look at the process of change just as you would any project: identify key stakeholders, project managers, resources, timeline, launch strategy, etc.,” Tobak said. Once you’ve answered these questions, you can begin to tackle your change opportunity.

Join me next week for more of efficient plan execution.

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Kathie ThomasKathie Thomas is the Director of Innovation and a senior partner at Fleishman-Hillard. The global Innovation practice group Kathie leads offers proven tools and approaches for helping organizations and teams inject a new level of innovation and productivity into their strategic planning and program development.