Making Change Actually Happen

You think you need to make some changes. But do you understand, specifically, whether and why change is needed and how to make it a reality?

People resist change unless they understand and hope to benefit from it.  Leaders need to pay attention to both these realities.

Ask yourself:

Do you have a clear, compelling, and communicable rationale for change?

  • Is the need for change rooted in a cause that people will understand and accept?
  • Have you quantified the business benefit of the change you intend?  Why hasn’t change happened until now?
  • Can you learn from the past in making your case for change?
  • How do you best communicate that the status quo is no longer acceptable?

What outcomes can you achieve only by changing the way things are done and when must these outcomes materialize? How will these outcomes affect groups and individuals in the organization, specifically, as they do or do not happen?

How great is the organization’s tolerance for change? How can you judge this before trying to make changes?

Do you know who, specifically, will support or resist your proposed changes? How can you amplify you supporters’ voices, calm your detractors’ concerns, and motivate those in between to take steps toward change? Will your staff back your efforts as a change leader?  If not, what changes do you need to make in how you lead to solidify your support?

What’s your timeline? What easier changes can you make in the short run to signal intent and create momentum? Which changes must wait for the right circumstances, resources, or political support?

How much pain are you and your leadership team willing to endure? If you have a changeable governance structure (an elected board, shifting investors) can you sustain support long enough to make change stick?  If not, can you inoculate leadership so it can resist any pressures to stop short of the goals set at the start of the change program?