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Tuesday, 26 November 2013 12:43

Copy of A Neglected Aspect of Change

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Sagacity Consulting is constantly engaged on projects that bring about change. There is no lack of advice and plenty of ‘experts’ in the field of change management. Some of our consultants have been getting successes in organisational change for more than 30 years. We talk about it regularly and we adopt sound models and frameworks within which we work.

For example, Sagacity Consulting, through its own experiences, has added to Kotter’s framework for organisational change[1] to create a set of organisational change principles that it uses to support its change consulting. These are expressed in the 8 step framework below.


Un-freezing   Phase

1.  Introduce explicit energy for change - a sense of urgency.

  • Change the organisational context to make the existing arrangements no longer comfortable, sensible or sustainable.
  • Begin to talk about what the new arrangements mean in terms of improved performance.
  • Examine market and competitive (contextual) realities.
  • Identify and discuss crises, potential crises, or major opportunities.
  • Engage people and respect the past.

2.  Develop effective governance for the organisational change program.  

  • Form a powerful guiding coalition team with the organisation’s leaders.
  • Encourage this group to work together as a team.
  • Constructively involve the organisation’s staff.

3.   Create a clear vision expressed simply.

  • Identify and get agreement on the arrangements that exist in the organisation and how they   need to be changed.
  • Make explicit the values base of the paradigm at the centre of the desired arrangements.
  • Make explicit the performance changes that will be required.
  • Develop strategies for achieving the performance changes while maintaining the paradigm.

4.  Communicate the vision.

  • Use effective communication aimed persistently at re-enforcing the new vision, associated arrangements, performance changes and the values base underpinning these.
  • Make it very clear what is expected now – the new arrangements, the paradigm and the new performance.
  • Show that the claimed benefits will flow logically from the proposed changes.
  • Develop and demonstrate Signature Behaviours[2] with the help of the guiding coalition        team.

Driving   for Change Phase

5.  Change the key elements of the organisation to align with the required new arrangements.

  • Engage people and respect the past.
  • Get rid of obstacles to change.
  • Change systems or structures to support the vision.
  • Encourage risk taking and non-traditional ideas, activities, and actions.
  • Provide the techniques, tools and training to do things the new way.
  • Develop ways to ensure leadership development and succession.

6.  Plan for and accumulate short-term successes.

  • Plan and create visible performance improvements.
  • Recognise and reward employees involved in the improvements.
  • Undertake Critical Momentum projects[3].
  • Make sure that doing things the new way is easy.
  • Re-enforce achievements.

7.  Consolidate improvements and produce still more change.

  • Use increased credibility to further align the key elements of the organisation with the required new arrangements, paradigm and performance expectations.
  • Hire, promote, and develop employees who can implement the vision.
  • Provide the techniques, tools and training to do things the new way.
  • Reinvigorate and re-enforce with second-wave Critical Momentum projects.

Re-freezing Phase

8.  Institutionalise the new approaches.

  • Talk about the connections between the new behaviours, outcomes and corporate success.
  • Keep improving the alignment between the key elements of the organisation and the new arrangements, paradigm and performance expectations.
  • Make sure that the organisational context makes the old arrangements and performance   levels no longer comfortable, sensible or sustainable.
  • Engage people and respect the past.
  • Continue to improve leadership development and succession.

However, such models often don’t make clear the importance of individual elements. For example, in step 1 of our adapted Principles, there is the dot point:

Change the organisational context to make the existing arrangements no longer comfortable, sensible or sustainable.

and in step 8 we say:

Make sure that the organisational context makes the old arrangements and performance levels no longer comfortable, sensible or sustainable.


My contention is that this is the one element in change programs where organisations often falter. Often all the positive elements of the change process are beautifully constructed and executed (clear vision, good communication, aligned structures, training, reward etc). However, i f you ask:

‘What will you do if Fred doesn’t change?’

The answer is often about more positive re-enforcement (more communication, more training etc).

That’s fine but remember if a person is comfortable as they are, they are unlikely to change.

And making people uncomfortable takes courage.

[2] Signature Behaviours are behaviours that are identified, defined and modelled because they embody the new arrangements, the values based paradigm and the new performance expectations.

[3] Critical Momentum Projects are carefully selected and designed projects which immediately and directly advance the move to a new set of arrangements and performance standards within the values based paradigm.