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10 Common Mistakes in Leading Change Transformation. 5 Levels of Transformation Success. 3 Critical Focus Areas of Change Leadership

Change Leadership

10 Common Mistakes in Leading Change Transformation

  1. Relevance and Meaning:Not overtly linking the change effort to the market and business strategy to create clarity in the minds of stakeholders.
  2. Change Governance:Not providing clear change leadership roles, structure, and decision making, and how the change effort will interface with operations.
  3. Strategic Discipline for Change:Not providing a strategic discipline for how to lead change across the organization—no enterprise change agenda, no common change methodology, and inadequate infrastructure to execute change successfully.
  4. Misdiagnosing Scope:Misdiagnosing the scope of the change either in magnitude, or by initiating only technological or organizational initiatives, and neglecting the cultural, mindset, and behavioral requirements.
  5. Initiative Alignment and Integration:Running the change through multiple separate or competing initiatives rather than aligning all initiatives as one unified effort and ensuring the integration of plans, resources, and pace.
  6. Capacity:Not creating adequate capacity for the change—setting unrealistic, crisis-producing timelines and then laying the change on top of people’s already excessive workloads.
  7. Culture:Not adequately addressing the organization’s culture as a major force directly influencing the success of change.
  8. Leadership Modeling:Leaders not being willing to change their mindsets, behavior, or style to overtly model the changes they are asking of the organization.
  9. Human Dynamics:Not adequately or proactively attending to the emotional side of change; not designing actions to minimize negative emotional reactions; not attending to them in constructive ways once they occur.
  10. Engagement and Communications:Not adequately engaging and communicating to stakeholders, especially early in the change process; relying too heavily on one-way top-down communication; engaging stakeholders only after design is complete.

5 different criteria for defining successful transformation.

We call them 5 Levels of Success:

(1) when you have designed your new state,

(2) when you have implemented that new state solution,

(3) when you have achieved your desired business outcomes from the implementation because engaged employees are using and refining the new state design,

(4) when your culture has transformed as necessary to sustain and increase these results over time, or

(5) when your organization (leaders and employees both) has increased its change capability so future changes go even more smoothly and produce even greater results.

3 Critical Focus Areas of Change Leadership

Successful transformation and breakthrough results require competent attention to three critical focus areas:

(1) content of change,

(2) people in change, and

(3) process of change

Content refers to what about the organization needs to change, such as strategy, structure, systems, processes, technology, products, services, work practices, and so on. Content refers to the tangible aspects of the organization undergoing change, which are quite observable and reside in the external world we can all see.

People refers to the human dynamics of change, including behaviors, skills, emotions, mindset, culture, motivation, communications, engagement, relationships, and politics. People includes the less tangible, “soft” dynamics of the inner thoughts and feelings of the human beings who are designing, implementing, supporting, or being impacted by the change.

Process refers to how the content and people changes will be planned for, designed, and implemented. In other words, process denotes the decisions and actions that will produce both the content and people outcomes. In our use of the word process here, we are not talking about business processes, but rather, the change process.

All three areas—content, people, and process—must be integrated into one unified change strategy that moves your organization from where it is today to where it chooses to be in the future. Organizations that take a piecemeal approach and separate their organizational and technical changes (content) from their human and cultural changes (people) and run many separate unintegrated change processes fail miserably.

But separating content change and people change is common practice. Generally speaking, the content advocates, such as those promoting reengineering, restructuring, information technology applications, and business strategy, do not understand human and cultural change. In the same way, most people proponents, such as human resource professionals, organization development practitioners, team builders, personal growth trainers, and executive coaches, do not understand pure organizational and technical changes. Consequently, transformation is usually designed and run as separate, nonintegrated initiatives. This just does not work. Focusing only on content, or fantasizing that organization transformation is only about people, or attending to both content and people yet in an insufficient or nonintegrated way, are all equally effective paths to failure.