This feeling, sometimes attributed to the fame of Captain Bligh or Riot for Bounty, often elicits introductory laughter and shrugs when someone jokes at a business meeting. But we were all there: “We have to solve the problem with [sales, service, morale, quality, others]. Or let your head spin.” (And it inevitably happens in companies where this is the standard mode.)
Communication is the key to successful business change and language is important. This may be one of the reasons why “digital transformation” works better in companies than simply increasing “digital capacity”. Transformation seems to be a goal. Managing data to improve the customer and work experience feels like work.
In addition, change is unlikely to succeed if it is imposed on people; it has to happen to them. And while change must be supported from above, it works best when it comes from the center. In other words, involve the people who make things happen within an organization on a daily basis and are closer to the customer.
There are, of course, more detailed steps for a successful transformation, but if you follow most approaches at your basic level, there are two things: communication and engagement.
A good example is the 8-step change process, developed in the 1990s by John Kotter of Harvard Business School and adopted/adapted by many change managers and consultants. Kotter’s eight steps:
1.It creates a sense of urgency, which some call a ‘fire platform’, which communicates and acts quickly through bold and inspiring statements about the importance of action.
For example, communicate how changes in the industry open up new spaces for growth or overcome new challenges.
2. Build a leadership coalition, a group of leaders who can help support change and communicate it from above.
Create a strategic vision of how the future of the past will be different and how we can achieve this with the main initiatives associated with the vision.
Get support across the organization and communicate interests and opportunities quickly and regularly. People will gather a movement, but they will oppose another project.
5. Remove as many obstacles as possible in terms of unnecessary processes, hierarchies, or rules to give people the freedom to make a real impact.
6. Create short-term wins and recognize results to further engage people in change, create enthusiasm, and demonstrate the ability to deliver results.
7. Here you may be encouraged to slow down, but Kotter says it is time to work harder to maintain momentum and release energy for other parts of the organization.
Finally, block the change by rewarding and praising the new behaviors associated with the change.
Most transformations do not live up to their promise, mainly because they ignore the keys to successful change. Think about the most recent change project in your business. Which of these stages of change do you think happened? Which one is missing? How was it?
Now, back to Captain Bligh and the importance of language and history.
Blight, CEO of Bighty Inc., convened a meeting and said: “We are receiving complaints about our delivery times and errors. Our customer service is down. I have stopped. We need a change, it needs to be fixed. is the right Solution fundamental to the problem we must replace everything? Who has an idea?
In Company B, where even customer service is experiencing problems, the CEO talks about the problem, the vision, and the strategy of the business and its successes. Then he says: “Think of a time when you did or received good service. I like that? How did you get involved? What made it great? How can we present this type of experience here?
Given human nature and neuroscience, the first approach has little chance of success. Faced with the threat, the amygdala takes over our brains, the prehistoric instinct to fight or flee comes into play and our tunnel vision focuses only on survival. All we see are saber-toothed tigers. Creativity and problem solving disappear.
The CEO of Enterprise B has re-drafted the issue based on the so-called expectation principle, where organizations conduct their dominant conversations. In other words, if we focus on talking about what is broken, we will be there; if we focus on the possible, creativity and involvement can be unlocked.
This type of re-evaluation is one of the foundations of positive change models (related to problem-solving), such as Appreciative Inquiry, which was also developed in the 1990s by David Cooperrider and others at Case Western Reserve University.
The evaluation study aims to involve the whole system in the development of shared views on the desired result through a five-step process:
• Define the general theme of the research and conclude with a positive result. British Airways once used the valuation study to solve a problem with lost luggage and focuses on the ‘extraordinary arrival experience’.
• Discover what works, the strength, and the success of the organization in this area.
• The dream enables stakeholders to imagine what could be based on the successes identified in the previous phase.
• The project offers to limit possibilities and sets priorities.
• Deliver / Destiny takes care of the promotion planning and execution.
If you think this ‘good thing’ seems really moving, it is used by organizations ranging from schools and cities to large industrial enterprises, the US Navy, and the United Nations. I worked in a studio at ArcelorMittal Steel, where metallurgists, union representatives, managers, community leaders, family members, and others met in a hotel room to develop new approaches to significantly improve safety at the plants.
And even if you do not want to go through the process, I have found that positive reformulation is invaluable in more traditional approaches to change. During a strategy session for a client, when the team focused on the strengths and opportunities of a SWOT analysis, instead of the weaknesses and threats, new ideas emerged.
I can also channel the energy of members who are resisting change with the default position “Not working” and ask my favorite question: “How do you think it would be if they worked perfectly?