Be able to drive internal change often and fast

By Puk Falkenberg, 25. February 2019

In a meeting, there is always that point in time, where new ideas have been presented, and someone in the back says something like: “But haven’t we already tried that? Let’s stick to what we know and do as always”. Sounds familiar?

It’s in that exact moment that this someone gives you a huge disadvantage and sets a possible direction towards becoming one of those companies that has a decreasing lifespan. And in that exact moment, you have a tiny window of opportunity to change the outcome and set a different direction.

When the external change exceeds the internal – the end is in sight!

Jack Welch former Chairman and CEO of General Electric pointed out, that when external change exceeds internal change, the end is in sight. This is now truer than ever: Living in a world of constant change, continuous development of new technologies, new emerging market possibilities, and the rise of many generations – at work at once.

When organizations have the ability to adapt and drive internal change fast and often, we see an increase in competitive advantages, almost 60 percent higher revenue, and employees that doesn’t find change disturbing or disrupting of their normal routines.

But it isn’t easy to reach this point. The organizational capabilities of agility, flexibility, and enablement must be strengthened to create a core capability, that can help everyone within the organization to navigate, drive, and react to change when needed. This means you must focus on strengthen these capabilities in order to drive internal change often and fast.

Which type of change are you initiating?

To be able to get to that point, where change is a part of your organizational core capabilities, you need to know which type of change you are initiating today. I’ll recommend you read and get inspired by the push and pull approach in this recent blog post. Push and pull will help you understand when to switch between those two and navigate in situations of change.

When understanding push and pull, you’ll need to know where you are today. And to make it a bit easier, I have divided different change initiatives into five different types:

  1. Change in crisis: Only changing when needed in crisis and chaos. All initiatives are command and control. Change are forced upon every employee.
  2. Creating a burning platform: It’s believed that loss of doing nothing is greater than of changing. This exposes a fear of failure and every change are decided top-down.
  3. Managing change: Every step of the change project is decided and put in a big plan that contains activities, communication and next steps. Every outcome is measured and monetarized. The focus of the change project is opportunities by doing something new.
  4. Change involvement: Focus on co-creating a vision as well as involving every part of the organization in the process – this also means stakeholders. Anxiety for something new is embraced and reacted upon.
  5. Change enablement: Change is pulled by believing everyone is willing to change and wants to contribute to building organizational agility, flexibility and a culture of continuous development and innovation.

When you have reached an indication of where you are, you also know your status quo, and maybe, you already have ideas on how to move or change in a wanted direction. Let’s say you currently manage change as described in type no. 3. To move towards change enablement (no. 5), you may want to consider how responsibility and accountability are shared in your team. How are tasks delegated? Are the teams self-managed? Does the team have the necessary skills to take on change initiatives and development by themselves? And is the psychological safety in place?

I would recommend you start with our tool of looking at your organizational capabilities – or scale it down to just your team. The outcome will provide you with a mapping, that makes it easier to see which areas to work on to be able to create change initiatives with enablement.

If you want to see other tools on leadership and change, click here.

What would it look like, if you already master change enablement?

If you already handle change initiatives with change enablement in your organization, the above-mentioned meeting would never have happened with a grumpy guy in the back. It would have been different, because:

  1. You have change as an organizational core capability and know when to push and pull change
  2. You work with an approach of “Change Enablement” where everyone can step up and drive internal change.

What should have been said at the meeting instead was: “I don’t know anything about that, but let’s make a speedboat and see how it goes. Who want to? Who has the time? And who have the skills to experiment and evaluate this change?”

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