How to shape your organisational change

The world around us is changing rapidly. And the world keeps changing. Continuously. This places new demands on leadership. Leadership in which you truly add value to the organization and the environment in which you operate. Value-creating leadership. It is no longer just about economic gain, but also about achieving ecologically sound and socially just results. Complex? I guess so. This can only succeed if you work together with people and organisations with diverse views. How do you make this work? The route to successful change includes four phases. In this blog more about phase 2: Designing.

In phase 1 (Exploration) you looked at the context of your organisation. What does that environment look like? What changes? How does competition, society and legislation develop? And what does the environment expect from your organisation? On this basis you determined a clear vision and strategy for your own organization. And now what? Now it’s time to make the translation, to all layers of the organization. In other words: you’re going to shape.

Drawing & Calculation, Change and Commitment

Shaping is step 2 in the route to successful change. The model of value-creating leadership distinguishes the following three steps in this phase: Drawing & Calculating, Visioning and – again – Creating Support:

Drawing & Calculation

Have you developed a vision and strategy (the last step of phase 1)? Then you make the business case. This describes the Context (the vision and the qualitative and quantitative expectations), the Ist (where are we now? What is going well and what is not?), the Soll (where do we want to be? What are the dilemmas and the challenges?) and the Strategy (how do we achieve the desired situation?). In the last step you make an action plan and evaluate the progress. Think of agreements made about, among other things, support and finances. Some tips for making a business case:

  • Pay close attention to the profit proposal. What results can be achieved? What are the risks compared to the costs?
  • Focus on the problem and the solution
  • Provide clarity on delivery and planned benefits
  • Define the workload, the planning and the division of labour
  • Define the resources needed (such as: project team leadership, project management, etc.)

Change: do it together

So you’ve decided that you want to change. And you know the direction you want to go in. And you have a solid business case. The question now is: how do you achieve this change? My advice: form an energetic team of employees who have influence in the organization. This team is fully focused on guiding the change process and stimulating where necessary. The team members meet once a month to share experiences. And then they go back to work. So it won’t be a consultation club.

The team is a cross-section of the organisation. People who enthuse others. Who have foresight. And understand that sometimes change doesn’t happen as quickly as everyone wants. Make sure you don’t just select people you had along anyway. Involve critics, too, so that resistance is understood. Don’t select too many opponents, because that will be at the expense of positive energy and decisiveness. And you do want to move forward together.

Commitment: involve everyone

No change without commitment. So take the employees with you. Be transparent, show appreciation to your people and acknowledge that change is difficult and that you understand that too. Schedule evaluation moments. And give people the space to express their doubts and resistance, but also challenge them to come up with their own solutions, because they often already have them.

Communicate fantastically well
Communicate! Yet I still regularly encounter people on the work floor who are completely unaware of all the changes that are being implemented. Let alone understand why the change is necessary. They just execute, because ‘the office decides anyway’. But if you don’t communicate, how can you expect to get people on board? And if you don’t get the people on board, it will be difficult to make a success of the change. In short: be transparent. Keep people informed by talking to them personally. Do it in small groups. It takes time, but in the end it yields much more.

The story and the figures
Focus your communication on the story and the figures. Why do we do it? How do we do it? And what are we going to do? Storytelling, in other words. Share stories from the organization’s history. The heroic stories and the blunders. Share in your fire department the story that you saved two children because you had your equipment in good order. But also the story of a large-scale call-out and finding out at the scene that there was a cat in a tree. You can have a great laugh about it together and the story says something about the importance of asking the right questions in the incident room. Stories have a binding effect. You want to be part of an organisation like that.

Present the figures as well: what are the benefits for the organisation? And what does it give the employees in terms of job satisfaction, nice collaborations, etc. Some people might get another job. Perhaps training should be provided. And some people may have to leave the organization. Be open and honest about it.

Communicating is also listening. What do employees think? What questions and uncertainties do they have? Are there any conflicting interests? And what ideas do employees have? Get this information and ideas from the shop floor. And who actually does something with it. So don’t just make the policy as management, but together.

From innovation lab to projects

The goal of phase 2 is to realize enough quick wins that you can actually implement the strategy. Phase 2 is completed when you can make a start with this as a trial. So what? Phase 3: Achieve.

Want to know more about value-creating leadership? Then download the ebook Leadership in the Economy of Value or check out our knowledge page on Value-Creating Leadership. Or click herefor our leadership training courses.

Pim Valentijn

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