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Leading Change is a Canada-wide movement started by young environmental and sustainability professionals working together to catalyze action and influence positive change locally, regionally and internationally. The next Forum for Emerging Environmental Leaders will take place March 1st, 2016 at the Morris J.
Thank you to all who applied – you will hear from us soon regarding the status of your application!
This year’s theme is “Preparing for the New Paradigm,” an energy-filled day of workshops focused on learning about new models and economies shaping the sustainability space, discovering emerging career opportunities, developing professional skills and building capacity.
Editor’s Note: Guiding change may be the ultimate test of a leader—no business survives over the long term if it can’t reinvent itself.
Perhaps nobody understands the anatomy of organizational change better than retired Harvard Business School professor John P. Over the past decade, I have watched more than 100 companies try to remake themselves into significantly better competitors. The most general lesson to be learned from the more successful cases is that the change process goes through a series of phases that, in total, usually require a considerable length of time. Most successful change efforts begin when some individuals or some groups start to look hard at a company’s competitive situation, market position, technological trends, and financial performance. A paralyzed senior management often comes from having too many managers and not enough leaders. Transformations often begin, and begin well, when an organization has a new head who is a good leader and who sees the need for a major change.
But whether the starting point is good performance or bad, in the more successful cases I have witnessed, an individual or a group always facilitates a frank discussion of potentially unpleasant facts about new competition, shrinking margins, decreasing market share, flat earnings, a lack of revenue growth, or other relevant indices of a declining competitive position.
It is often said that major change is impossible unless the head of the organization is an active supporter. In both small and large organizations, a successful guiding team may consist of only three to five people during the first year of a renewal effort. Because the guiding coalition includes members who are not part of senior management, it tends to operate outside of the normal hierarchy by definition. A high sense of urgency within the managerial ranks helps enormously in putting a guiding coalition together.
Companies that fail in phase two usually underestimate the difficulties of producing change and thus the importance of a powerful guiding coalition.
Efforts that don’t have a powerful enough guiding coalition can make apparent progress for a while.
In every successful transformation effort that I have seen, the guiding coalition develops a picture of the future that is relatively easy to communicate and appeals to customers, stockholders, and employees.
In one midsize European company, the first pass at a vision contained two-thirds of the basic ideas that were in the final product. Without a sensible vision, a transformation effort can easily dissolve into a list of confusing and incompatible projects that can take the organization in the wrong direction or nowhere at all. In failed transformations, you often find plenty of plans, directives, and programs but no vision. In a few of the less successful cases that I have seen, management had a sense of direction, but it was too complicated or blurry to be useful. If you can’t communicate the vision to someone in five minutes or less and get a reaction that signifies both understanding and interest, you are not done. A useful rule of thumb: If you can’t communicate the vision to someone in five minutes or less and get a reaction that signifies both understanding and interest, you are not yet done with this phase of the transformation process. Transformation is impossible unless hundreds or thousands of people are willing to help, often to the point of making short-term sacrifices. This fourth phase is particularly challenging if the short-term sacrifices include job losses. In more successful transformation efforts, executives use all existing communication channels to broadcast the vision. Perhaps even more important, most of the executives I have known in successful cases of major change learn to “walk the talk.” They consciously attempt to become a living symbol of the new corporate culture.
Communication comes in both words and deeds, and the latter are often the most powerful form. Successful transformations begin to involve large numbers of people as the process progresses.
To some degree, a guiding coalition empowers others to take action simply by successfully communicating the new direction. Sometimes the obstacle is the organizational structure: Narrow job categories can seriously undermine efforts to increase productivity or make it very difficult even to think about customers. One company began its transformation process with much publicity and actually made good progress through the fourth phase.
In the first half of a transformation, no organization has the momentum, power, or time to get rid of all obstacles. Real transformation takes time, and a renewal effort risks losing momentum if there are no short-term goals to meet and celebrate. One to two years into a successful transformation effort, you find quality beginning to go up on certain indices or the decline in net income stopping. Managers often complain about being forced to produce short-term wins, but I’ve found that pressure can be a useful element in a change effort. After a few years of hard work, managers may be tempted to declare victory with the first clear performance improvement. In the recent past, I have watched a dozen change efforts operate under the reengineering theme. Over the past 20 years, I’ve seen the same sort of thing happen to huge quality projects, organizational development efforts, and more.
Ironically, it is often a combination of change initiators and change resistors that creates the premature victory celebration. Instead of declaring victory, leaders of successful efforts use the credibility afforded by short-term wins to tackle even bigger problems. In the final analysis, change sticks when it becomes “the way we do things around here,” when it seeps into the bloodstream of the corporate body. The second factor is taking sufficient time to make sure that the next generation of top management really does personify the new approach. Our Leadership experts will be sharing tips and insights for everyone, at any station in life, at both home and work. So how does a leader prepare an organization for change, and enable people to take a more positive outlook on changes that will affect them? Clear communication of thoughts and rationale will help the members of the organization see the need for change, and may prompt some of them to make their own suggestions for change or adaptations to new conditions. Accept the proposition that people will view change differently and be prepared to approach them using different methods. Gather and share information regarding the external environment, as well as the status of the organization within that environment.
Anticipate internal and external barriers to needed change and prepare ways of overcoming them.
Enlist the support of other leaders, both formal and informal, to encourage people to look at the changes more positively.
Lead by example – if belt-tightening is required, the leaders should be the first ones to go on a diet. Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. We are located at the Corporate College, a state of the art facility solely dedicated to corporate education and professional development. Introduction Evidence based practice is the way of nursing, in order to keep up with advancing healthcare and healthcare issues nurses and organizations seem to be in a continuous state of change. Weber outlines 8 key elements to successful organizational change in the article “Effecting and Leading Change in Healthcare Organizations” (2000). The Process of Transition This can What work Denial impact will and be Can I At Last this have? Nurse PractitionersA Nurse Practitioner (NP) “is an advanced practicenurse whose practice is focused on providingservices to manage the healthcare needs ofindividuals, families, and communities.
SummaryIn todays world we are inconstant change.Implementing long termchange is neither swift noreasy. The objective is to address environmental, social and economic issues that are critical to attaining a sustainable future for the next generation. Wosk Centre for Dialogue in Vancouver, BC. The one-day Forum, engaging 150 Future Leaders 19-35 years of age, is held in association with the GLOBE 2016 Leadership Summit for Sustainable Business. But, human nature being what it is, fundamental change is often resisted mightily by the people it most affects: those in the trenches of the business.
They have included large organizations (Ford) and small ones (Landmark Communications), companies based in the United States (General Motors) and elsewhere (British Airways), corporations that were on their knees (Eastern Airlines), and companies that were earning good money (Bristol-Myers Squibb).


Establishing a Sense of UrgencyExamining market and competitive realitiesIdentifying and discussing crises, potential crises, or major opportunities2. They focus on the potential revenue drop when an important patent expires, the five-year trend in declining margins in a core business, or an emerging market that everyone seems to be ignoring. Because there seems to be an almost universal human tendency to shoot the bearer of bad news, especially if the head of the organization is not a change champion, executives in these companies often rely on outsiders to bring unwanted information.
One CEO deliberately engineered the largest accounting loss in the company’s history, creating huge pressures from Wall Street in the process. From what I have seen, the answer is when about 75% of a company’s management is honestly convinced that business as usual is totally unacceptable. In cases of successful transformation efforts, the leadership coalition grows and grows over time. But in big companies, the coalition needs to grow to the 20 to 50 range before much progress can be made in phase three and beyond.
Sometimes they have no history of teamwork at the top and therefore undervalue the importance of this type of coalition. Without a sound vision, the reengineering project in the accounting department, the new 360-degree performance appraisal from the human resources department, the plant’s quality program, the cultural change project in the sales force will not add up in a meaningful way. Recently, I asked an executive in a midsize company to describe his vision and received in return a barely comprehensible 30-minute lecture. In the first, a group actually does develop a pretty good transformation vision and then proceeds to communicate it by holding a single meeting or sending out a single communication.
Employees will not make sacrifices, even if they are unhappy with the status quo, unless they believe that useful change is possible. In a routine discussion about a business problem, they talk about how proposed solutions fit (or don’t fit) into the bigger picture. Nothing undermines change more than behavior by important individuals that is inconsistent with their words. Employees are emboldened to try new approaches, to develop new ideas, and to provide leadership. Sometimes compensation or performance-appraisal systems make people choose between the new vision and their own self-interest.
Then the change effort ground to a halt because the officer in charge of the company’s largest division was allowed to undermine most of the new initiatives. Most people won’t go on the long march unless they see compelling evidence in 12 to 24 months that the journey is producing expected results. When it becomes clear to people that major change will take a long time, urgency levels can drop.
In all but two cases, victory was declared and the expensive consultants were paid and thanked when the first major project was completed after two to three years.
Typically, the problems start early in the process: The urgency level is not intense enough, the guiding coalition is not powerful enough, and the vision is not clear enough.
They go after systems and structures that are not consistent with the transformation vision and have not been confronted before. Until new behaviors are rooted in social norms and shared values, they are subject to degradation as soon as the pressure for change is removed. The first is a conscious attempt to show people how the new approaches, behaviors, and attitudes have helped improve performance. It makes me wonder why I keep hearing that employment, business investment, and long range plans are being held in abeyance because of uncertainties in the political environment. Of course, to make this most effective, the leader has to be open to suggestions, and not stick rigidly to a plan that may have some holes in it. Businesses are always competing with one another, and you need to know what the competition is doing.
His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service.
Louis Community College leverages education for growth in the knowledge economy by offering programs and services designed to advance people, businesses and communities.
For this reason, and the effects of nursing shortage, change is often the last thing an individual or organization feels ready to tackle. Develop A Vision For Change Absolute identity with ones cause is the first and great condition of successful leadership. Focus on the change process Great changes may not happen right away, but with effort even the difficult may become easy. Analyze which individuals inthe organization must respondto the proposed change andwhat barriers exist Some change their ways when they see the light, others when they feel the heat. Build partnerships betweenPhysicians and the administration ALONE WE CAN DO SO LITTLE; TOGETHER WE CAN DO SO MUCH. Create a culture of continuous commitment to change NOT EVERYTHING THAT IS FACED CAN BE CHANGED. The NProle is grounded in the nursing profession’svalues, knowledge, theories, and practice and is arole that complements rather than replaces otherhealthcare providers. Ensure that change begins with leadershipA GOOD OBJECTIVE OF LEADERSHIP IS TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE DOING POORLY TO DO WELL AND TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE DOING WELL TO DO EVEN BETTER. Ensure that change is well communicated THE ART OF COMMUNICATION IS THE LANGUAGE OF LEADERSHIP. It requirespatience, persistence, andsometimes a little creativity.The way these change effortsare introduced will directlyeffect the end result of eithersuccess or failure.
This event is focused on building the next generation of corporate leaders, policy thinkers, entrepreneurs and community actors. This article, originally published in the spring of 1995, previewed Kotter’s 1996 book Leading Change. These efforts have gone under many banners: total quality management, reengineering, rightsizing, restructuring, cultural change, and turnaround. A second very general lesson is that critical mistakes in any of the phases can have a devastating impact, slowing momentum and negating hard-won gains.
Forming a Powerful Guiding CoalitionAssembling a group with enough power to lead the change effortEncouraging the group to work together as a team3.
They then find ways to communicate this information broadly and dramatically, especially with respect to crises, potential crises, or great opportunities that are very timely. Change, by definition, requires creating a new system, which in turn always demands leadership. One division president commissioned first-ever customer satisfaction surveys, knowing full well that the results would be terrible. But whenever some minimum mass is not achieved early in the effort, nothing much worthwhile happens. In successful transformations, the chairman or president or division general manager, plus another five or 15 or 50 people, come together and develop a shared commitment to excellent performance through renewal. If the existing hierarchy were working well, there would be no need for a major transformation.
Someone needs to get these people together, help them develop a shared assessment of their company’s problems and opportunities, and create a minimum level of trust and communication.
Sometimes they expect the team to be led by a staff executive from human resources, quality, or strategic planning instead of a key line manager. A vision says something that helps clarify the direction in which an organization needs to move. Having used about 0.0001% of the yearly intracompany communication, the group is startled when few people seem to understand the new approach. Without credible communication, and a lot of it, the hearts and minds of the troops are never captured. For this reason, successful visions usually include new growth possibilities and the commitment to treat fairly anyone who is laid off. In a regular performance appraisal, they talk about how the employee’s behavior helps or undermines the vision. They take ritualistic, tedious quarterly management meetings and turn them into exciting discussions of the transformation.
A 60-year-old plant manager who has spent precious little time over 40 years thinking about customers will not suddenly behave in a customer-oriented way. The only constraint is that the actions fit within the broad parameters of the overall vision. Perhaps worst of all are bosses who refuse to change and who make demands that are inconsistent with the overall effort. He paid lip service to the process but did not change his behavior or encourage his managers to change. If the blocker is a person, it is important that he or she be treated fairly and in a way that is consistent with the new vision. Without short-term wins, too many people give up or actively join the ranks of those people who have been resisting change.


You find an impressive productivity improvement or a statistically higher customer satisfaction rating.
In a successful transformation, managers actively look for ways to obtain clear performance improvements, establish goals in the yearly planning system, achieve the objectives, and reward the people involved with recognition, promotions, and even money.
Commitments to produce short-term wins help keep the urgency level up and force detailed analytical thinking that can clarify or revise visions.
Until changes sink deeply into a company’s culture, a process that can take five to ten years, new approaches are fragile and subject to regression. When people are left on their own to make the connections, they sometimes create very inaccurate links.
One bad succession decision at the top of an organization can undermine a decade of hard work. NPs have the potential tocontribute significantly to new models ofhealthcare based on the principles of primaryhealthcare” (p.
It outlines eight critical success factors—from establishing a sense of extraordinary urgency, to creating short-term wins, to changing the culture (“the way we do things around here”). But, in almost every case, the basic goal has been the same: to make fundamental changes in how business is conducted in order to help cope with a new, more challenging market environment. The lessons that can be drawn are interesting and will probably be relevant to even more organizations in the increasingly competitive business environment of the coming decade. Perhaps because we have relatively little experience in renewing organizations, even very capable people often make at least one big error.
Creating a VisionCreating a vision to help direct the change effortDeveloping strategies for achieving that vision4. This first step is essential because just getting a transformation program started requires the aggressive cooperation of many individuals. Phase one in a renewal process typically goes nowhere until enough real leaders are promoted or hired into senior-level jobs.
When these individuals are not new leaders, great leaders, or change champions, phase one can be a huge challenge.
With good business results, the opposite is true: Convincing people of the need for change is much harder, but you have more resources to help make changes. In my experience, this group never includes all of the company’s most senior executives because some people just won’t buy in, at least not at first. But sometimes you find board members, a representative from a key customer, or even a powerful union leader. But since the current system is not working, reform generally demands activity outside of formal boundaries, expectations, and protocol. Off-site retreats, for two or three days, are one popular vehicle for accomplishing this task.
No matter how capable or dedicated the staff head, groups without strong line leadership never achieve the power that is required.
But one central idea in the final version—getting out of low value-added activities—came only after a series of discussions over a period of several months. In the second pattern, the head of the organization spends a considerable amount of time making speeches to employee groups, but most people still don’t get it (not surprising, since vision captures only 0.0005% of the total yearly communication). In a review of a division’s quarterly performance, they talk not only about the numbers but also about how the division’s executives are contributing to the transformation. They throw out much of the company’s generic management education and replace it with courses that focus on business problems and the new vision. Too often, an employee understands the new vision and wants to help make it happen, but an elephant appears to be blocking the path. Action is essential, both to empower others and to maintain the credibility of the change effort as a whole. After the celebration is over, the resistors point to the victory as a sign that the war has been won and the troops should be sent home. They include new reengineering projects that are even bigger in scope than the initial ones.
For example, because results improved while charismatic Harry was boss, the troops link his mostly idiosyncratic style with those results instead of seeing how their own improved customer service and productivity were instrumental. Poor succession decisions are possible when boards of directors are not an integral part of the renewal effort. But just as a relatively simple vision is needed to guide people through a major change, so a vision of the change process can reduce the error rate. Haven’t leaders figured out how to incorporate those uncertainties into their visions and plans?
It will feel familiar when you read it, in part because Kotter’s vocabulary has entered the lexicon and in part because it contains the kind of home truths that we recognize, immediately, as if we’d always known them.
Communicating the VisionUsing every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategiesTeaching new behaviors by the example of the guiding coalition5. Sometimes executives underestimate how hard it can be to drive people out of their comfort zones.
But in the most successful cases, the coalition is always pretty powerful—in terms of titles, information and expertise, reputations, and relationships. I have seen many groups of five to 35 executives attend a series of these retreats over a period of months. Not surprisingly, most of the employees with whom I talked were either confused or alienated.
In the third pattern, much more effort goes into newsletters and speeches, but some very visible senior executives still behave in ways that are antithetical to the vision. In a routine Q&A with employees at a company facility, they tie their answers back to renewal goals.
The guiding principle is simple: Use every possible channel, especially those that are being wasted on nonessential information. In some cases, the elephant is in the person’s head, and the challenge is to convince the individual that no external obstacle exists. He allowed human resource systems to remain intact even when they were clearly inconsistent with the new ideals.
In at least three instances I have seen, the champion for change was the retiring executive, and although his successor was not a resistor, he was not a change champion. Sometimes they grossly overestimate how successful they have already been in increasing urgency. But there is also risk in playing it too safe: When the urgency rate is not pumped up enough, the transformation process cannot succeed, and the long-term future of the organization is put in jeopardy. But after the coalition works at it for three or five or even 12 months, something much better emerges through their tough analytical thinking and a little dreaming. The net result is that cynicism among the troops goes up, while belief in the communication goes down.
The fact that the man was a part of the guiding coalition and the vision-creation team also helped. The new product was selected about six months into the effort because it met multiple criteria: It could be designed and launched in a relatively short period, it could be handled by a small team of people who were devoted to the new vision, it had upside potential, and the new product-development team could operate outside the established departmental structure without practical problems.
In fact, in one of the most successful transformations that I have ever seen, we quantified the amount of change that occurred each year over a seven-year period.
Because the boards did not understand the transformations in any detail, they could not see that their choices were not good fits.
So did all the communication, which kept reminding him of the desired behavior, and all the feedback from his peers and subordinates, which helped him see when he was not engaging in that behavior. On a scale of one (low) to ten (high), year one received a two, year two a four, year three a three, year four a seven, year five an eight, year six a four, and year seven a two. Time was spent at every major management meeting to discuss why performance was increasing.
The retiring executive in one case tried unsuccessfully to talk his board into a less seasoned candidate who better personified the transformation. They worry that employees with seniority will become defensive, that morale will drop, that events will spin out of control, that short-term business results will be jeopardized, that the stock will sink, and that they will be blamed for creating a crisis.
In the other two cases, the CEOs did not resist the boards’ choices, because they felt the transformation could not be undone by their successors.
To some degree, he was afraid that he could not produce both change and the expected operating profit. But despite the fact that they backed the renewal effort, the other officers did virtually nothing to stop the one blocker. Lower-level managers concluded that senior management had lied to them about their commitment to renewal, cynicism grew, and the whole effort collapsed.



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