Advice to become ready for a transformation

How to prepare and align as a leadership team for a major change in your organization

You are a senior leader in your organization, and you are facing some challenges. You have had that slow hunch for some time now that there are plenty of things that are just not right. Things beyond just individual isolated problems. People in your organization often bring up small things that should be looked at because they seem to be connected to plenty of recurring friction points in several places that hold people back.

You have also come to realize that there are a few big things we have to change to really tap into our potential. If we don’t, our goals may never come within reach. Maybe even worse, we may risk losing ground.

You feel you share this view with some of your colleagues on your senior leadership team. But you are not certain to what extent they see what you see and how they would explain what needs to change.

You want to take the initiative, but you are not sure about how.

How do we know if we are ready to start a major change effort, and what do we need to do to get there if more work is needed?

Aligning on a desired future as a senior leadership team

The situation above is a common one. Me and my colleagues at Crisp see it a lot with our clients.

How do we know if we are ready to start a major change effort, and what do we need to do to get there if more work is needed?

This article describes some key questions that we have come to value as very helpful. When discussed and answered together by members of your leadership team they help you become aligned on what you need to start on a transformation journey.

As a result, you create a shared leadership team view of the narrative and driving forces for needed change.

1) WHY (NOT JUST STAY THE SAME)

So what?

  • What are the key challenges we need to overcome, to reach our goals?
  • Why is there a sense of urgency to change at all?
  • What is at stake (if we don’t change)?

These questions help us understand our current situation, and why we need to do something different.

2) THE END OF THE RAINBOW

What can be gained by taking on the challenge to change?

  • What new capability, opportunity or outcome can we create?
  • What could become possible if we succeed, that is not possible for us today?
  • What could we see, feel and experience if we were there?

These questions help us understand why our future could be much brighter if we decide to commit to change.

3) CONTINUITY & SAFETY?

What of value do we want to keep the same, preserve and protect, as we change?

  • Which current strengths, relationships, identities, habits do we believe will still help us while other things in our organization change?
  • What solid ground can we keep standing on as we take on the new and explore the uncertain?

These questions help root us in our past in a healthy and helpful way. This can significantly lower the concern that things your people love about your organization are at risk. Research suggests that by reinforcing valuable continuity you increase your chances for success, especially when uncertainty about the change is high.

4) LEADERSHIP & DECISION MAKING

What type of leadership will we need, to enable motivation and persistence through this change?

  • What changes to overall priorities will be required to enable this change?
  • What will this require from leaders in our organization?
  • How might we need to change our approach on the senior leadership team?
  • What will need to be communicated?
  • What will we need help with?

These questions help us identify key decisions needed to create the conditions necessary for success. This can include elements of self-leadership, how we can lead by example and other shifts in behaviour.

The senior leadership team members can fully support a shared narrative for change and are ready to communicate it with a shared voice.

How do we know if we are there and have enough alignment?

The senior leadership team members can fully support a shared narrative for change and are ready to communicate it with a shared voice.

This means that there can still be some disagreement, but there is a willingness to actively support and sustain a shared effort over time.

How do we answer these questions?

There are of course several ways your leadership team can arrive at answers to these questions. Here are a few things you can try to speed up the process.

  • Leadership team conversations, in meetings you already have.
  • Offsite workshop with leadership team.
  • Conversations with co-workers, in different areas of your organization.
  • Workshop with a larger set of experienced and influential people in your organization, to help identify and validate key challenges and needs.

Summary

There is a lot to say about these topics. One insight from the above worth pointing out is that at a leadership team level you don’t have to align on a solution, before you start a transformation journey. Rather, finding that path that is right for you is part of what the journey is for.

This article has offered a dense summary of what you can do to help create good conditions for starting a major journey of change in your organization. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.

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