How to manage CHANGE and COMPLEXITY: Your 5 ingredients to surf the wave of transformation
"Change!" is probably THE unword in any company. In 11 years of supporting these processes, I've never experienced a raving crowd of fans just waiting to get started.
As we all know, the only thing that is for sure is change.
There are such cool resources, tips, and tricks that can really help you make this process easier, way more employee-centric, and, therefore, totally successful.
In this episode, I'll share with you one framework our team has often used to analyze the status quo and boost companies' change processes. It's a fantastic tool by Knoster, Villa, and Thousand (2000). Shout out to them!
It's 5 fundamental elements, almost like a checklist, you need to pay close attention to before starting your process (never mind, when you're already in one or the next or the next-next...;))
So everyone is on board and aligned and motivated to follow you.
Shall we start? Okidoki!
First: Create a vision.
Your perfect most wanted best-case picture of your desired reality in 5-10 years. Your dream with a deadline.
Now, why is that important?
I asked my friend Antoine de Saint-Exupéry to say it in his magical words:
"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders.
Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea."
Make your people yeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaarn for the desired outcome. For something they can almost taste, it's so delicious that they want to get to work, change processes and routines and create with their full power.
Cause let's be honest: Change, transformation, pivoting, innovation...however, you call it... it's nothing that happens automatically.
You have to make it work. Long term.
And whatever it is that gives your people the focus and energy: Almost a magnet that naturally gravitates them towards it. YOU need to create it for them—wholeheartedly.
And that basically answers the question of:
And what happens if you don't have a vision?
Hmm... People are super confused; they are so lost.
They have no energy cause they don't know what to put it into? Things like: "Is it even worth it?" Will most probably run through their heads. Or they'll ask you questions that start a lot with the word "WHY?"
Direction and clarity are so super important!
Second: The Action Plan
A Japanese proverb says best why vision and action plan are practically twins.
Vision without action is a daydream.
Action without vision is a nightmare.
Now, what is a good action plan?
It's the start of every process and keeps you going.
It's something that gives you the direct steps within the next weeks and months. So I, as an employee, see what my team needs to be doing, which gives a lot of certainties.
Don't make this a big super long term thingy.
Cause, remember Muhammad Ali? He had it all figured out when he said:
"You have a plan till you get punched in the face."
Plan 3-6 months and adjust accordingly in an agile way.
What happens if you don't have an action plan?
Well, no real start of the new process.
People will probably be like: "Great vision, and do I just press an app to get there?"
Actually, to my experience, that can lead to a lot of sarcasm. And if you start the process without the steps, people tend to do stuff but again without direction, going kind of in circles, losing a lot of their energy and your company energy.
So action plan, check, you've got this.
At this point in time everyone is probably like:
"Great, we have a vision and a plan to get there. So let's go!"….......
"Ahmmm but how exactly?"
"I don't know."
If you don't have the skills in your company or people who temporarily give you the skills to go through or to create this new process. There will probably be a lot of insecurities and anxiety.
So if you want to be more agile in your company, you want to establish innovation processes?
Have people join you that are experts.
But way more important than that:
make your people become experts!
Every single one of them. That it becomes their DNA and not some kind of "project".
Meaning some recognition. Not necessarily raises or bonuses. Cause I've never experienced that to be the best option when it comes to long term, purposeful change into a new, better reality.
If you think money, rather think profit sharing. Cause if I'm a shareholder of the company I work with? Wow, I would make pretty damn sure that I put all my effort into that product to succeed.
But also think about appreciation and praise.
Publicly praise your employees, or let them present their work and get praised by their peers. Anything that increases the feeling of:
"We're in one boat."
"I am a valued part of this boat."
"And I am seen for my efforts."
What happens if you leave incentives out of the change equation?
Again, you probably get a lot of "Why questions".
No incentives can lead to resistance and total inaction.
So make sure you have some exciting ones in store.
Meaning: a Budget.
A money bag that empowers you to get help from outside or within. That helps you pull off workshops where you create a vision, action plan, skill training, and whatever is needed to kick off the new era.
Cause otherwise people most likely get frustrated, they're like "Great, I want to create, but I can't"…, so definitely have a budget.
Now I don't think the biggest budgets are always the winner. Cause they can lead to people asking:
"Is it worth it?!"
"Shouldn't we invest otherwise?"
So rather start small, with little hacks and little changes, a fair budget. And then see what does work in your culture and increase on that.
Now I hope these 5 ingredients will help you boost your change processes.
Please help support people in this time to move forward and to thrive and forward this post.
Thanks so much for your time and energy, and see you next time for another innovation training session.