Working at the organizational level includes setting direction, clarifying structural roles and responsibilities, aligning processes and systems, and creating a culture of shared beliefs and norms. Executives and boards most often drive outside-in efforts based on changes in the external environment and strategic goals.
Leaders who mainly work at the organizational level must also address the behaviors and culture of the organization. This can't be a "quick fix" that changes the structure or merely mandates new policies. As one change practitioner, Michael Hammer, said, "Coming up with the ideas [for change] is the easy part, but getting things done is the tough part. The place where these reforms die is...down in the trenches." Warning: A weak attempt at outside-in change, such as moving lines and boxes on the org chart, is analogous to
rearranging chairs on the Titanic. Ultimately, the result will be the same because no significant action has been taken to fix the underlying problems. Outside-in approaches are necessary but insufficient to improve organization results.
"The world fears a new experience more than it fears anything. Because a new experience displaces so many old experiences.... The world doesn't fear a new idea. It can pigeon-hole any idea. But it can't pigeon-hole a new experience."
—D. H. Lawrence, British novelist
Working effectively at the individual and team level begins with frontline, customer-facing employees. If change is not focused on getting the commitment, ownership, and buy-in of all employees—top to bottom—it will fail. Effective change leaders know that their role is to help employees move along an individual continuum of change.
UNAWARENESS —> AWARENESS —> UNDERSTANDING —> ACCEPTANCE —> COMMITMENT
Unawareness: Employees don't know that a change is happening.
Awareness: Employees are aware things are changing, but don't know what, why, when, or how.
Understanding: Employees logically understand the change, but don't yet believe it will impact them.
Acceptance: Employees accept that the changes will impact them, and they begin adapting accordingly.
Commitment: Employees embrace the change and willingly alter their behavior in support of it.
To enable the movement along the individual change continuum, great change leaders engage the heads, the hands, and the hearts of their employees:
They engage the HEAD of each employee with facts, logic, rationale, data, and strategic plans.
They engage the HANDS of employees by letting them try out the change, determine if the changes are reliable, get involved in fixing problems, and link the changes to the work they will do day in and day out in their teams.
They engage the HEART of their people through stories of success, a vision for the future, empowerment in the now, and engagement and passion for the potential promised by the change.
Inside-out approaches are critical to success, but also insufficient to achieve sustainable results. When both an outside-in and an inside-out approach to change are combined, employees become engaged in change.
Research shows that organizations with highly engaged employees outperform rivals in operating income by 19%, net income by 14%, and earnings per share by 28%. Unless employees are on board "down in the trenches," leaders will struggle with implementation. It's critical that change leaders get both the technical solution right (outside-in) and help other leaders, managers, and employees want it (inside-out). When employees are committed to change and the organization is aligned to reinforce that commitment,
transformations are accelerated. Sustainable change only happens when individual, team, and organizational transformation happen concurrently.
"There is no contest between the company that buys the grudging compliance of its work force and the company that enjoys the enterprising participation of its employees."
—Ricardo Semler, author, CEO of Semco SA
Quick-fix changes don't work to improve our own personal health, and similarly they don't work to improve long-term organizational health. To get lasting personal health improvements, we need to focus on nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress reduction. To get lasting organizational health improvements, leaders need to create a culture that delivers lasting results. And that includes setting the direction, enabling processes and systems to work effectively, getting buy-in from employees, and "walking the talk." When all of these elements come together, change will happen at all levels.
This excerpt ends on page 17 of the hardcover edition.