Monthly Archives: July 2012
Strategic Change Management is a deliberate system of changing people processes and tools to achieve organizational goals which align well with the aspirations of the team members.
Basics of Change Management
The Conceptual Construct Change management is based on accepting the vitality of the first 15% of effort in identify what needs to be changed in people, processes and tools in any organization. If this aspect does not have a wide acceptability and the ownership of ideas is not transferred to people, the processes will never get refined whatever tools we use.
This underscores the dynamic, participative and vibrant “energisation” of people to challenge the status quo as a tool to excite the processes. Once suitable energy is transmitted to the environment, out of the box solutions appear from nowhere to augment the staid thinking in an organization. The key word is “excitement” of the widest cross-section possible to accept change as a continuous and inevitable process.
If enough energy and time is not spent with a wide base of participants in this 15% profile, the 85% of strategy executives would be a self-defeating process in trying to follow a muddled thinking along confused road maps by a group of motley and uncommitted lot.
People, especially committed people, throw up ideas that CEO, may not be able to originate. This wider participation by the base throws up multipurpose options to energies the organization as per perceptions of the “people who run” the organization.
The Four “E”s
Enabling, exciting, educating and empowering the organization are thus the basic tools that get the people aligned to the objectives of the organization by collaborative change management processes. You don’t have to conjure pictures of grand ideas to change – change happens one baby step at a time by the entire organization remaining committed to helping the baby take those stops.
Amongst all this, there is a great need to “invert the pyramid” to get a 360 degree perspective at all times. The energy, focus and Intent of the leaders must, however, be infectious and be crystal clear in their sincerity to the followers along the pyramid at all times. The team is quick to discern ulterior motives of leaders, if any. Once detected it is a difficult task to reverse the downward slide.
A Continuous Process
Strategic change mgt is a continuous process. The big picture must be clearly seen through by leaders, from all perspectives to evolve “Blue Ocean Strategies”. Any amount of change applied along the principles of Red Ocean strategies will only yield marginal results and tire out the organization. All leaders need to constantly excite their pyramids to look for these blue Oceans and charter a path along these seas.
The acme of skills of good leadership is constantly challenging status quo and generating options for better people participation to enhance their productivity. Unfortunately, more often than not, “leaders” work towards an aim with the same organization, people and levels of thinking and expect a positional change in their bottom lines. This does not work. No sooner has one organization created to achieve an objective, started working efficiently, leaders must look for new ways to reorganize the systems, processes and tools. This can happen when leaders do not get “emotionally attached” to demons they have created.
Inverting the Pyramid
The term “Inverting the Pyramid” applies to non bureaucratic style of functioning by the leaders. They must recognize and reward talent, if they hope to keep the people responsive to organizational aims and objectives. If there is a bull run in which leaders can not differentiate the wood from the trees, mediocrity, sycophancy and demotivation of the “excited” employees would take place to the detriment of the organization. The leaders must learn to wear all the six hats while encouraging their teams to do the same constantly. Any organizational model that does not reward creativity and originality of thought is doomed.
The 15% Theory
Then there is the “theory of application” of the 15% Theory. What needs a change is always more important than the change itself. This cannot be a once in a year ritual in board rooms. It is a mixture of continuous formal and informal dialogues amongst all “collars”(white or blue) of the organization. Leaders should be astute enough to “sniff” signs of trouble and “gauge” processes, people and tools that need to change constantly. This applies to all leadership rungs of the organization at all times.
Inevitably, informal non conformist interactions provide better options, grass root upwards. In learning to “mange and lead” by walking around, the leader must remain in constant touch with ground realities. His office needs no curtains and doors and he should be seen more on the shop floor or the market place – in touch with his people, products and the markets. This, without courting populist gimmicks, can transmit the intent, integrity and honesty of purpose of the leader to the environment. It will make him approachable and spur dialogue for change a change for the better.
The 15% theory energizes the people in an organization and challenges them to outperform themselves, not for self promotion (which the leaders must do automatically) but for the larger organizational good.
The nature of the change is secondary to the perceptions that employees have regarding the ability, competence, and credibility of the leaders
Change follows a cycle of preparing for the change, getting your hands dirty in the change process and management of the spinoffs after change. The role of the leader remains supreme and cannot be debated. What can be is the quality of leadership, its vision, perseverance and ability to carry the teams through the change with a song on their lips. Leaders energy is contagious both ways.
Organisations look up to the leadership for a large number of things. The foremost is the leaders supportive role in providing the overarching vision, coherence and capacity to operate seamlessly through the chaos of the work and market place. This translates into leadership’s extreme tolerance for ambiguity and capacity to absorb Ristakes (Risk plus Mistakes) in the environment around them both in and out of the organization. That develops faith which simplifies the leader led equation where teams continue to surprise the leaders by their initiative and proactive adaptation to change.
Poor leadership runs counter to this and produces archaic and staid organizations incapable of following the routine, leave aside manage change. Trust and faith in leadership is therefore essential in a team but what is more important is a trustworthy and faithful leaders who have the temerity to carry their teams through thick and thin of change
Leadership before, during and after change implementation is THE key to getting through the change. Unfortunately, if you haven’t established a track record of effective leadership, by the time you have to deal with difficult changes, it may be too late.
Much like healthy people, who are better able to cope with infection or disease than unhealthy people, organization that are healthy in the first place are better able to deal with change. This warrants deliberation as all bad organizations also wish to change for the better and create an environment conducive to change. But as unhealthy people need doctors it is often wiser for leadership of these organizations to get a professional third person management of the change cycle.
As a leader you need to establish credibility and a track record of effective decision making, so that there is trust in your ability to figure out what is necessary to bring the organization through. If the organization does not have such leaders there is a need for an overhaul at the top
Leaders play a critical role during change implementation, the period from the announcement of change through the installation of the change. During this middle period the organization is the most unstable, characterized by confusion, fear, loss of direction, reduced productivity, and lack of clarity about direction and mandate. It can be a period of emotionalism, with employees grieving for what is lost, and initially unable to look to the future.
As per experts, during this period, effective leaders need to focus on two things. First, the feelings and confusion of employees must be acknowledged and validated. Second, the leader must work with employees to begin creating a new vision of the altered workplace, and helping employees to understand the direction of the future. Focusing only on feelings, may result in wallowing. The leadership has to play the role of an orchestra conductor at such times. Being able to identify each discordant or out of sync activity and apply hands on corrections. He has to lead from the front balancing the vision and employee concerns constantly. In any case if the leader follows the 15% rule the team would be on board and there would be willing participation by the team to see the change through smoothly. More often than not good change initiatives lose out to ego battles in the board rooms. Good leaders introduce the change after taking everyone on board.
Once people begin to see positive results of the change it is far easier to see these changes materialize. The leadership and the team having committed to the change must approach it with a vigor and intensity matching that of the leader. If these fears and initial change side effects are not managed cohesively, the team is more likely to spin back into cynicism and status quo complicating the task of the leaders.
Taking a cue from Three Idiots, the leadership has to develop a capability to coherently define the role of each member of the team. Having identified the right man with the right attitude for the right job, the leader must provide him adequate latitude in his sphere of influence to excel. Most important the leader MUST NOT play favorites during the process of change, more than at any other time, lest it sabotages the change process.
No leadership “formula” can work effectively if the leadership dimensions do not account for the employee’s interests on the foremost. It is best articulated in the Chetwode motto placed at IMA and followed by the Armed Forces.
The Safety, Honour and Welfare of your country comes first – Always and every time.
The Honour, Welfare and Comfort of the men you command comes next.
Your own ease, comfort and safety comes last, always and every time.
Field Marshal Sir Philip Chetwode
Often all change management cycles fail when leaders invert this pyramid.
- Summary of Change Management workshop (courtauldcap.wordpress.com)
- A Troubled Culture Results in Organizational Chaos (benefitpoint.wordpress.com)
- More than 9 in 10 Employees Are Disengaged When Organizations Don’t Implement Change Well (prweb.com)
- Defining the Social Worker as Consultant (1st in the Social Work Consultant Series) (socialworkhelper.wordpress.com)
- Dissertation Literature Review – Power, Change Management, and the Business Process Reengineering (thinkingbookworm.typepad.com)
- We are addicted to change (blogs.gartner.com)
- Focusing Change to Win – Global Survey of 1072 leaders – Executive Summary (thecrispianadvantage.com)
- change management (thinkingbookworm.typepad.com)
Leadership means exciting, enabling, educating and empowering the team to deliver across the full range of activities in a swarmed manner, happily & willingly.
The acme of leadership’s deliverance is in producing results by each member of a team in such an egoless manner that every activity generates multiple options for the leadership to exploit to achieve the organizational goals. Creating this win-win situation for the organization, leader and the led remains the basic art of leadership.
Articulation of Intent
When each member of the team pushes the envelope to the best of his capabilities, the combined synergy that is produced far outstrips the imagination. A leader has perforce got to be the visionary who articulates his intent unambiguously and leads from the front in each endeavor of the team. He has to have the third eye to be to see situations and conflicts arising well in advance and take corrective measures in time to propel the team. Proactively pays!
Calling the Calling
An essential component of leadership function is to convert each member of the team to be a self-starter. Initiative, innovation and experimentation are the key to exciting and empowering the team. However, the leadership has to be acutely conscious of putting the “right peg in the night hole”. Each person finds his mean in certain specific activities. If positively energized that becomes the person’s calling. A progressive and enabling leadership works towards discovering this calling in each member of the team and assigning him requisite missions. An empowered team member working in sync with his calling will always produce the best results-no matter what!
Lateral thinking is an attribute most often misunderstood with warped thinking. It is not. It is the ability of self energized team members to generate out of the box blue ocean strategies to perform an assigned mission. Debono articulates this well.
Application of OODA Cycles.
As the OODA cycle enunciates by its name-there are times to observe & orient so as to deliberate and debate on all aspects of a problem at hand and generate multiple options. This is the phase that demands utmost sincerity in discussing debating and evolving options. Once the decision is taken, the team needs no more discussion but acts in a synergized manner to generate the desired momentum towards the next OODA cycle. The faster a team completes a OODA cycle, greater are the chances of success.
When such proactivity permeates the environment you stop managing but leading change.
Do that and watch miracles happen!
- Proactive (probings.wordpress.com)
The change management cycle is congruent to what Colonel John Boyd articulated in military parlance of decision cycle or the OODA loop. Observe-Orient-Decide and Act. It is the complete range of activities which a business leader has to undertake in today’s competitive business environment to stay ahead of the change.
The OODA Loop
Observe. It implies undertaking all actions including collection processing and synthesizing of business activities to identify the exact parts of the process, people and tools that need a change to make sure optimization of effort. In this step the leader builds the intelligence picture and seeks to fill the gaps by proactive and engaging actions. It also leans partly on the 15% theory.
Orient. This step enables the leader to evaluate the complete information with the environment to generate a range of options with in the premise of its business, people, products and competition. It matches up the capabilities and capacities of each factor to analyze the various options with a view to evolve possible outcomes and courses of action. SWOT analysis is a part of this step.
Decide. Having undeniably oriented himself to the exact issues of various options, the leader then decides on the desired option to be adopted.
Act. This is the systematized and deliberate “slog” phase of the change management cycle where the leader along with team act upon the decided course of action.
Application of OODA Cycle
Now this is a dynamic cycle and needs to be performed repeatedly to outwit and outsmart the competition, innovate and improvise to enthuse the team, refine the processes and apply the right tools to achieve the intent of the leader.
It calls for continuous tempering by the leaders in the “flattened hierchy” of the system to put their shoulders to the wheel in generating and implementing “Blue Ocean Strategies”. The OODA cycle enables the leader and the team to stay one step ahead of the change always. It calls for continuous feedback and regular course corrections to invest in the right strategies by taking suitable risks, accepting mistakes and operating in an information vacuum under conditions of ambiguity and uncertainty. All this, without losing the sense of balance and fun.
Here the first two ‘O’s ie Observe and Orient are the most critical parts of the analysis to evaluate the environment and develop various courses of action. Information will rarely be complete and the quest for solving each piece of the Information Jigsaw puzzle can cause paralysis by analysis. This calls for astute judgment capabilities based on a 360 perspective of the 15% Theory. The more leaders “wide base” this 15% theory, better are the chance for generating coherent options, leading to the next step in the OODA Cycle ie to Decide.
Once a decision is taken based on the double O’ the team must pull all stops in earnest within the intent of the leader. The “Intent” thus becomes critical at this stage. Once this larger construct is absorbed by cross functional teams, they can operate in a “swarmed” manner to achieve the desired goals effortlessly. This obviates the need to referring matters up or down the chain constantly saving precious resources and time. Should there be a mismatch in comprehending this, the change management cycle would cycle at the same place, generating a lot of activity without any meaningful result.
At the cost of repetition the final takeaway of this discourse of applying continuous OODA cycles to generate possible action the leader and the team must generate clairvoyance to identify what needs to change. That is critical to the success of the change management cycle.
The next essential component during “action” stage is the ability of the leader to function under the dictates of “Directive Style of Leadership”. Having given the objectives, resources and time to the teams, the leader must provide them with adequate space to execute their mission with complete confidence. Each component of the team must have their space to innovate and operate, under an “ownership” principle. This would generate desired momentum to the team’s efforts and enable swarmed actions to achieve the goals. The term “Deadlines” would then be made redundant by these swarmed cross functional teams which would evaluate, operate and vector under their own OODA cycles within the construct of the leaders “Intent”.
Feedback is the essence of change management and strategy execution. There should be elaborate formal and informal systems to ensure the feedback mechanism is dynamic and responsive. However, the feedback should not become an end in itself. It is just a means to enable leaders and teams to maintain direction. By no stretch of imagination should this become a barometer for “assessing” and “evaluating” leaders and teams. That would work against the principle of making “Ristakes” and lead the organisaiton to a path of mediocrity with a low appetite for risk taking an essential element of progressive change management. This alone can facilitate experimentation without challenging which it is well-nigh impossible to create out of the box solutions to complex problems.
During this entire process, a few small things with major ramifications are critical. These are “playing favorites’,“ “no mistake syndrome” and “shooting down dissent”. These three are the biggest enemies of organizational behavior in cross functional teams operating under the intent of the leader. Nothing de motivates and de acceleration a team more than these evils of leadership. Leaders must guard against these conscientiously.
Fun and Balance
The aspect of “fun and balance” narrated earlier may have missed the readers. These are keys to success of adaptive organizations willing to change on a continuous basis. The aspect of OODA cycle and the change management cycle work best in an environment of healthy mutual respect, “space to each other” and mature conflict resolution practices. “Fun and Balance” are great enablers which facilitate change management cycle. They grease the various moving parts in an organization and make change management worthwhile. There are no One Minute solutions to keeping teams motivated. “Fun and balance” is a very serious business for the leader. It needs just as much application of OODA cycle by the leader as the entire business process.
Once again this reinforces the role of the leader as the conductor of the organsiational orchestra.
The Maneuverist Leaders
In war fighting philosophies, as in businesses, there is this penultimate philosophy termed “maneuvre warfare” as against “attrition warfare”. The major difference between the two philosophies is the approach to warfare in their application of “force on force” approach as compared to the maneuver or the mental faculties approach. The aim of maneuver warfare is to avoid enemy strength’s and attack his weaknesses by generating faster OODA cycles. This often repeated and continuous application & generation of OODA cycles facilitate, leaders to outsmart and finally paralyse the minds of opposite numbers and forces – leading them to despair and ultimate defeat.
As against this the attrition or the force on force approach is bloody, intense slog and results in victory at great costs in men and resources.
In business strategies too we often find direct “attritionist” approach being played out too often at the detriment of the larger aim of the organization. This translates into huge costs to achieve business objectives.
On the other hand smart leaders follow the maneuverist approach to outsmart the competition by playing on their weaknesses and steering clear of their strengths. In this approach the leaders carry out intelligence preparation of the business environment and produce ‘Blue Ocean Strategies’ by a systematic approach through generation of unambiguous and faster OODA cycles. A dynamic SWOT analysis and adoption of six sigma principles to refine the processes, people and tools remains an integral part of this philosophy. This philosophy can also be termed as “Blue Ocean” as against the crowded “Red Ocean” strategy.
Systems Approach to Life
Thereafter, the leaders and the teams take to “systems approach” to handling their organisational aims and objectives. It entails indentifying the terminal objectives for each organsiational need and systematically approach the problem at hand be it production, marketing or training to evolve suitable “enabling” and “Learning” objectives to derive the correct course of action or approach to evolving business strategies, training plans or almost any conceivable business activity.
Today’s business leaders have to be armed with necessary tools of business leadership to survive and excel, The maneuver theories developed and refined overtime apply equally to leaders in any environment. Developing clairvoyance and the art of leading businesses successively by remaining one step or more ahead of the change are critical to success in businesses as they are to any situation in wars. In both the one quick on his feet wins.
- Re: Guest Post: OODA vs.. D3A – Which is actually more appropriate? (h30499.www3.hp.com)
- ooda x cloud (blogs.gartner.com)
- Entrepreneurship Through the Lens of Venture Capital (sys-con.com)
- OODA and Presidential Politics (constitutionclub.org)
- Guest Post: OODA vs.. D3A – Which is actually more appropriate? (h30499.www3.hp.com)