Plans are good but people make change happen

Insights from the leadership planet by Eve and Eli

Change is a part of our working life. It might be small changes involving only a few or larger changes affecting many parts of the organization in order to adapt to changed market conditions, to gain access to a market or a market segment, make delivery, production, ways of working more efficient. When doing changes, we are convinced that the investment made will lead to synergistic effects - i.e. one will earn back one's investment. If you have done your homework correctly (i.e. not been too optimistic or skipped your due diligence), the synergies are also usually realistic - at least on paper.
In the event of a change, in general we talk about three different aspects you need to take into consideration – the strategic, structural and cultural aspects of change

Strategic changes/decisions i.e. when we define the objectives, expected results and the reasons that drive the changes. It will answer the questions

  •  WHY are we doing it/what are the reasons for it?
  •  WHY are we doing it now?
  • WHAT should it lead to/what should we achieve?

In changes this aspect is nearly always completed and people involved can agree upon or at least accept the reasons and benefits. You understand why it is good and why you should do it and why you should do it now, etc. 

Structural changes/decisions are more about WHAT needs to be done to support the strategies, i.e. the structural changes that must be made in the organization, support systems, budget, processes and skills needed etc. This is also usually included in the plan - sometimes you may not realize everything that will be affected, but in general it is part of the plan.

Finally, there is a cultural change/decision aspect to change, i.e. to make sure that this change will pay off, you need to know HOW things potentially need to be done differently and what behaviors are necessary to adapt. It applies to various aspects of behavior. There might be need for differences in how you set goals and follow up, how you set up incentive programs, how you work with meeting structure, working methods and cooperation between teams and individuals. It will affect leadership as well as sometimes the norms and values.

This last piece of the puzzle many find more difficult to work with - either you underestimate this part, you are unaware of these aspects, or it is simply difficult to work with these "softer parts of change" so you just hope for the best. In order to get the full effect of a change, you need to understand you current ways of working and behavior and how things will have to change or adapt.

Change often means doing something differently - doing more or less of something, stop or start doing something. People don't do things based on intention; they do things based on consequences – to understand what will be gained by the change or the pain of not doing it. A changed behavior is about understanding, learning and proper training as well as those affected feeling involved and part of the dialogue. Leadership is really important in all type of changes – leaders need to understand all aspects of change, to drive the change as well as coach and support the people affected by the change.
Change is a given in today’s world of works. Plans for change are great but it is still people who make these changes happen. To be successful in change you need to have focus on all three aspects – strategic, structural and cultural. So, what do you need to prepare to make sure you make you change will be successful?

Read about TRUST, next from Insights from the leadership planet by Eve and Eli

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