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Strategic Change Management

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.

The Leadership

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.

The Organisation

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

The Slog

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.

After Effects

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.

Defining Roles

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.

Conclusion

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.

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Leadership Matrices

A corrupted JPEG photograph. Result of a photo...

A corrupted image hides any truth

In today’s competitive business environment people often take the short route to success by sacrificing basic leadership matrices. This may work in the short term but what about the marathon? There, they find themselves marooned, shamed and humiliated in the eyes of the ones they lead and the world at large.

Corruption, nepotism and egoistic policies are the three biggest challenges leaders face. A fall from grace along any of these three is suicidal. The recent spate of scams in the Indian market place depict the rot in standards of leadership being provided to the nation be they in the field of politics, bureaucracy, defence or the corporate culture.

To discuss the first- mother of all leadership ills – Corruption. While adorning the highest possible leadership positions where the temptation is too high – people succumb to this great devil, get caught and undermine the faith of an entire generation in the leadership matrices to be followed. Leave aside the disgrace they bring to themselves, they undermine the organisation they lead and demoralise the very fabric they had vowed to defend and be custodians of. They deserve no mercy.

The next in the cardinal sin is nepotism as a leadership matrix. A large number of so called leaders lead through the power of the pen they yield. Suffice to say that they lead sad enterprises bereft of any team spirit and deliver mediocre results.

The worst sin of the leadership matrix is ego. Leaders operating out of this paradigm of life rather than the true values and systems they are appointed to promote create leaders who are corrupt and breed mediocrity through sycophancy.They may rise in careers for a short time but their fall from grace is the worst. Leaders operating out of  these premises of ego and nepotism finally become corrupt and corrupt the organisations they are supposed to lead. This corruption may not be financial alone but one that corrupts the work environment, breeds sycophancy and marginalises talent in the organisation. The net impact is a corruption of minds and emergence of environment managers who sing the bosses tunes over integrity and loyalty to the organisation.

Good leaders thus must guard against the ills of ego subverting their people and organisation. No amount of repeating the Chetwodian Motto is enough to ensure that you excel as a leader through character borne out of an egoless state in which the credits are of your people and failings are yours.

Only then can you be called true leaders.

Experiment, Endure, Experiment

Rendering of human brain.

Unleash your potential

Leadership of organisations big or small can be frustrating if it is attempted in Closed User Group (CUG) environments with low appetite for risk taking. Such organisations at best break even and are no fun to be part of. The moment you find yourself in such a bind where creativity is subject to hide bound rules and regulations, I recommend it is time to pack your bags and quit.

For one, if you are a creative person with an innovative streak, these CUGs will kill it first before you realize it.

Second, they are averse to change and believe in the magic of “don’t fix what ain’t broke” – status quo rules supreme here within the ambit of their rules.

Third, they will not allow you to experiment and would want better results following the same archaic rules that govern them. If you walk on the edge here, they will be the first to push you over.

Fourth, Ideas die fastest in such environments, frustrating all your baby steps at change management. These organisations normally are happiest chasing change along well beaten paths.

Fifth, Creativity is a dirty word here..using it can muzzle you faster than you can imagine.

If you are serving in an organisation which bides its time within the status quo..time you moved on.

To be a happy and successful leader, accept lower remuneration but an environment which enables you to experiment, explore, endure and then experiment some more.

Try it…it will make leadership fun!!

Must You Have Conflict at Work?

Conflicts

Well conflict is a tough word..can we say differences?

My linkedin friend Justin Barry asked a pointed question on the discussion board

How do you approach and deal with conflict at work?!

His take is pasted below:

Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.”

Another way of looking at conflict: “A good manager doesn’t try to eliminate conflict; he tries to keep it from wasting the energies of his people. If you’re the boss and your people fight you openly when they think that you are wrong – that’s healthy.”

Why is this happening?

So lets get back to basics.  Conflict occurs because people are not getting what they need or who are seeking their own self-interests.  You may say that conflict is inevitable because we are dealing with people’s jobs, pride, ego etc.

It could be that conflict arises because of :

  • Weak leadership
  • Poor communication
  • Dissatisfaction with management style (e.g lack of openness)

Does this matter, well it SURE does if

  • Affects team/organization performance
  • Affects staff morale
  • Polarizes people
  • Impacts people or team cooperation
  • In extreme cases, eads to irresponsible and harmful behavior, such as fighting, name-calling

BUT remember that conflict can also be positive if

  • Resolves and provides solutions to business problem
  • Provides open communication channels
  • releases positive emotion and deals with staff’s anxiety and stress
  • Helps build trust
  • People improve their understanding and skills of the people and the organization they work for.

The Risk of Conflict can be REDUCED

There is action you can take to reduce these incidents from happening.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Set expectations around goals and staff performances
  • Communicate frequently and honestly
  • Be open about your concerns so everyone knows where you stand.
  • Agree that it is good to disagree so people understand that healthy disagreement would build better decisions
  • Let your teams grow and learn from their mistakes.

    My Take

    Conflict Resolution

    These arguments and suggestions are well taken but these are pragmatic efforts at answering the questions from a managerial rather than leadership perspective. Good leaders take the team on board by clearly articulating the “intent” and explaining the “why” of each activity. Once these are explained and the leader has an open approach towards taking in criticism based on continuous feedbacks..conflicts begin to minimise.

    Each human has a desire to out perform the given standards. A good leader doesn’t pit one member of the team against the other to ensure better performance or does not institute individual rewards for accomplishments. Instead he sets parameters for each member to push the envelop and out perform himself. In such forgiving and enabling environments personal conflicts are minimised to a large extent as team members work to produce collaborative answers. They do not hesitate to take or give advice and suggestions to improve work in their sphere of influence. In such win win environments alone can conflicts be minimised for the larger organisational good.

    Such leadership environment can only be developed by leaders willing to learn, love, share and mentor their team mates. They multiply the power of their team members rather than adding them.

    If conflict still persists, it is time to change the leader.

    I would end it with this quote

    “Put organisation above self..it will largely help you flow like water and brush aside what obstructs your thoughts. If your thoughts are powerful enough they will erode the opposition over time. Else, you like water, again choose the path of least resistance to follow your organisational goals.

    Mother of all Leadership Mantras -Intent

    As discussed through posts on swarming and management of change, the takeoff point in any organisation is the intent. Everything else depends on it.

    Definition of Intent: “Something that is intended; an aim or purpose”. Often in the quest for quick bucks in business or overwhelmed by routine or career compulsions, leaders assume every one understands the “vision” and “mission” displayed on all walls of the organisation so they would understand intent as well.

    Statements of Vision and Mission are good but they largely serve to impress clients. Intent is specific overarching statement of purpose with in the ambit of vision and mission which provides clarity to all members of the team to focus on.

    If the intent is to make money – the team may use all means and methods, however disdainful, to achieve the intent of the leader. This intent by nomination thus sets in an organisational culture that corrupts the branding of people and the organisation.

    On the otherhand, if the intent is to generate value for the customer – money will automatically flow. A lot therefore depends upon how employees comprehend the intent in pursuence of the larger good of the organisation.

    A leader therefore has to articulate the intent unambiguously to all members of his team. This is especially true outside the board room where the edges at the bottom of the pyramid (who generate value for the company with the customers), need to clearly comprehend the intent. It is the WHY of the team, they will navigate through the HOW themselves, if suitably empowered.

    Without a clear intent we often see organisations sweating furiously at the treadmill – going nowhere.

    Leaders Listen Passionately

    listening

    Active Listening is the Greatest Learning Tool

    Often we hear leaders chatter on endlessly about their “intent”, “visions” and how the teams should flower under their tutelage. They never tire of torturing an audience till the organisation tires out of the “How” that the leader explains with such disdain each time he gets an opportunity. This is accentuated if the employees only get to listen to the leader and are seldom allowed the latitude to articulate their own aspirations and visions about either the task at hand,  the organisation or the team.

    When they listen, they “hear” with a view to out talk the led. Such leaders start the cycle of cynicism in an organisation, especially when the leaders are not able to Walk their Talks. Teams hang on to every word, motion or activity of the leader. While a blabbering leader may forget what he said yesterday – the team remembers – and thus starts the Chinese whisper in an organisation, disempowering the teams across verticals.

    Good leaders listen and listen actively to absorb the aspirations and callings of each member of the team. This helps them find each team member’s true calling. There is nothing more motivating in an environment where a team member feels confident to explain his point of view succinctly and without parental oversights by the leader. This simple habit of the leader energises the team members and motivates them with an optimism that their views would be heard passionately towards the larger good of the organisation. They then push the envelope as active participants in the growth of the organisation.

    It is true that leadership and mentoring are not a one-size-fits-all propositions. “Different strokes for different folks” is more like it. Some people need a lot of direction or hand-holding; others need autonomy and freedom to experiment and grow. Some team members may need different things at different times, depending on challenges that arise, the level of difficulty in job assignments, and the ebb and flow of motivation. Amongst all these variations, leaders can rarely afford to stop listening passionately- it helps keeping their ears to the ground and invert the pyramid in an environment of trust and mutual respect.

    This passion is contagious across all levels of leaders and the led, where leaders automatically produce leaders and not mere followers. This creates an enabling environment where the “why” overrides the “how” and unleashes the true potential of each team member.

    Active listening accentuates an organisation’s trajectory in geometric progression and provides the leader with the most vital component of organisational success – feedback.

    As they say in the military, “passionate leaders lead by actions not words”.

    Transcending Leadership Moulds

    There are enough literature and guides available to explain the theory and practice of leadership. However, the biggest teacher of leadership is the nature itself complete with its universal intelligence.

    In B Schools and HRD classes, people teach classifications of leadership models because they help students lead organized lives and have a clear picture of where things are. Despite the regular and discernible chaos in organizational leadership paradigms, people somehow feel comfortable with yardsticks they can identify with. That which is in their genetic coding. Some theories are based around the concepts of a transactional  or a transformational leader. Often people like to fall into one of the categories based on their code.

    They make cardinal natural blunders here.

    Ever seen a sapling grow into a tree and yield fruits against all the vagaries of nature? The key word that nature bestows upon them,and us, is adaptability. The trees adapt to storms, the animals adapt, the chameleons change colours and every activity guided by universal intelligence adapts disruptively to live in perfect harmony with its surroundings.

    What happens to humans? Why do we have to be tutored in every aspect of a disruptive and adaptive life as against the laws of nature? Why should leaders be only type cast into transactional or transformational?

    One comes across organizations which are sticklers for rules. Do you want to play by the rules in business? Or do you see rules as limitations that are important reference points but can be bent or experimented with for the benefit of your organisation?

    There is a world out there beyond the stereotypes of transactional,situational and transformational leadership. The nature does take root as per set rules. A tree would not grow if it doesn’t get adequate sunshine or water or bend in the wind to the limit of its elasticity. So largely some rules have to be followed to have a semblance of commonality of purpose but there are others which need to be bent to suit the mandates of organizational efficiency.

    This is the theory of evolution.

    No one approach can be defined as the best. Time, situation, organizational needs and other expediencies should make a leader adapt his organization in a

    leadership in circles

    disruptive and distributed model so as to produce the sum of the whole as a multiplication factor of the individual strengths of the teams. The leader has to represent and act as the conductor of an orchestra – give adequate latitude to each musician but notice the failing notes promptly,finally producing synergy in the collective effort towards producing the required musical score.

    There though is a problem here. This disruptive and directive style of functional leadership puts the onus of delivery largely on the led. If these have not been groomed to adapt to change and lead change.  armed with suitable KSAs, the ecosystem gets disturbed and results get marginalized to leadership styles. Organisation suffers.

    While it is important to have some stability and equilibrium in the teams, it is equally important to flatten the hierchies to generate better and interactive output based on principles of empowerment. The more Ristakes (Risk plus Mistakes) you permit within the wider scope of experimentation better will be the evolutionary process of the organization as a whole. Leaders may face some tactical setbacks but strategically it is a win-win situation for the organization.

    Leaders have to perpetuate change and teach teams to fly, as a bird does to the young ones, with attendant short term risks. It is only in such leadership environments that teams learn to soar.

    Leadership training tends to be full of talk about change and moving forward, but in fact it is the simple complexity of disruptive leaders which can bring about a culture of change by leading from the front.

    Change is a daily process, as is leadership, for change. To be in harmony and ahead of change, leaders have to be more disruptive than change itself. This proactivity creates the right growth environment based on trust, irrespective of the style used.

    There are no mantras to be a leader. One can learn all  one wants from the books but in the end you have to be a leader and not become one. It is an inside thing – a call guided by our little voice which the nature has bestowed upon each one. We must use it effectively.

    As they say in the military – leadership is spirituality in motion!

    Humility and Perseverance

    Getting good at getting along with people is a great book. A learning resource for every leader who aspires to achieve his vision through collaborative participation of his team. Amongst  great visions of bottom lines and productivity, organisations take their eyes off the ball in leading their visions through the power of their people.

    The ultimate character of an orgnisation and its leaders ,therefore, is in investing in its people through humility and perseverance. These two essential organizational qualities transcend known performance enhancement matrices and catapult the leaders to an all together different dimension of governance. These two allow you to balance your life needs with the organisational goals and enable organisations to excel.

    Positively controlled and managed anger, at times, can yield results in the short term but somehow leave an unsavory taste in the mouth. They cause a disconnect deep within where trust is eroded and perseverance suffers.

    Humility and perseverance are thus the hall marks of all good organisations. These organisations get good at getting along with people who celebrate life in a multidimensional approach.

    Profits follow

    Pro activity Pays

    Proactive Leadership

    Pro active Leaders are always at the front

    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 active 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 endeavuor of the team. He has to have the third eye 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

    Calling the Calling in practice!!

    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 right 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

    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 – the “Os” 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 an OODA cycle, greater are the chances of success.

    When such pro activity permeates the environment you stop managing but leading change.

    Do that and watch miracles happen!

    Leadership For Managing Change

    Change Management: Story War

    Image by daveelf via Flickr

    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. It is largely woven around the vision of the leaders shared equally by the organisations.

    Basics of Change Management

    The Conceptual Construct Change management is based on accepting the vitality of the first  15% of effort in identifying 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 execution 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 CEOs, may not be able to conjure. 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 of change – change happens one baby step at a time by the entire organization remaining committed to helping the baby take those steps.

    Amongst all this, there is a great need to “invert the pyramid” to get a 360 degree perspective at all times. The leaders must be in constant touch with reality at the bottom of the pyramid. 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 management 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 an 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

    Inverting the Pyramid Helps

    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 “manage 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 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.

    The Leadership

    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  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.

    The Organisation

    Much like healthy people, who are better able to cope with infection or disease than unhealthy people, organizations 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.

    Organisational Adaptability

    Inherent in leading and managing the change is the organisation’s ability to adapt to people , places, processes, tools and objectives. Only an adaptive organisation can field cross functional teams capable of operating in weathered down information environment under circumstances of ambiguity and uncertainty. This is a tall order but can be managed through sound leadership, collaborative engagements and effective training in an environment of trust and mutual respect.

    The Slog

    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  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 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. The key is effectively transferring the ownership of ideas fro change to the team. That starts the chain reaction.

    After Effects

    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.

    Defining Roles

    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 leaders MUST NOT play favorites during the process of change, more than at any other time, lest it sabotages the change process.

    Conflict Resolution

    The most common story cited to illustrate anekantvad or amultidimensional life is that of a king who called six blind men to touch and describe an elephant. All of them came up with different answers, calling the elephant a rope, fan, snake or wall. While they were partly right, they were nowhere near the whole truth. All of us see the world and life from our limited perspective. If we knew this, then we would not be in conflict with others. But we assume that what we know is the whole truth and that the other is wrong. And hence there are conflicts all over the world, basically because my truth does not agree with yours, although both of us don’t know that we are both only partially correct, and are both likely to be wrong. We strongly hold on to our partial or wrong concepts, and fight over it, tooth and nail. When the final picture emerges, or with the passage of time, when we look back at the past, we will often see how our words and actions were often wrong.

    Effective leaders understand that they do not have all the answers and learn while empowering their teams. That, somehow, is the best philosophical way of looking at life. Everything falls in place as long as you are willing to learn.

    Conclusion

    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 Chetwood 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.