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How to Make Change Stick

By Kate Mercer

There are two clear groups of factors to take into account if you want to make the changes stick and produce outstanding results quickly, efficiently and permanently: the ‘internal’, and the ’external’. And there’s a sensitive balance to strike when you consider which to pay attention to at any given time.

‘Internal’ factors include people’s mindsets, and ‘groupthink’, together with the attitudes, values, perceptions, feelings and beliefs that dictate how people think individually and in groups. Most importantly, these ‘internal’ factors colour how people react to change in the world about them, including the organisation they work in.

‘External‘ refers to what the organisation needs to change. These are the concrete, tangible structures, processes and systems that are needed in an organisation of any size to make it work effectively. Examples include organisation structures, salary schemes, IT systems, and business processes.

In our experience, one of two things happens when most leaders think about developing their organisation. The first is that the instinctive reaction is to focus on the ‘external’ factors – after all, these are generally tangible and concrete and capable of development using the skills many leaders have in abundance: planning, directing, implementing and analysing. Making visible efforts at change also demonstrates to their managers that ‘real’ change is happening. So we see over and over again new leaders, filled with the excitement of their new appointment, restructuring their team; or firing somebody and hiring in a person they knew in their previous job; or scrapping a system that has been used more or less effectively for some time, and installing the very latest thing they have read about.

The second thing that happens is that a leader recognises that his or her organisation is adequately equipped for the moment with the ‘external’ factors, and that the focus needs to move to bringing the hearts and minds of the people along with the changes. But they try to work on these ‘internal’ factors using the skills they know to work on the ‘external’ factors: information, analysis and presentation. Or they find the whole area too difficult and fraught with the possibility of disagreement or conflict, and retire quickly and with relief to restructuring and reengineering!

And this is the point of the diagram above: ‘internal’ and ‘external’ factors need to be focused on equally over time. If you as a leader do not attend to both ‘internal’ and ‘external’ factors and manage them with equal rigour, your change efforts will fail. To produce effective change in your organisation - that is, to produce enhanced results through the changes you introduce, requires that you develop your awareness and skill equally in both areas.

However perfect for your organisation’s current and future needs the process you design and install seems to be, if it fails to get buy in, or even alienates people, the change will fail to deliver. Better to ensure that you take the people with you who will make the changes work and deliver their intended results in the long run than to lose the passion, inspiration and commitment in your team and your business!

==> for more information view the original newsletter article here <==

Kate Mercer is a director of Shine Consulting, a partnership of business consultants committed that people and organisations produce a new standard of results through the passion, inspiration and commitment of people.


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