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Ziggy Stardust: The Ultimate Continuous Improvement Professional Managing Change

June 11th, 2012

Time may trace me but I can’t trace time – Changes…released as a single in 1972.

As I pull the vinyl out of the attic box marked 1972, a year marked by Watergate, anti-war demonstrations and Mark Spitz’s gold medal run at a terrorist marred Olympics, I realize we are in a time of tremendous societal change.  In the world of commerce, businesses have posted incredible productivity gains during the last five years which should be followed by hiring.  Yet payrolls remain muted due to concern about what is next.  So companies are left to find new ways to produce goods and services, meet customer demand and still have a healthy workforce.

To successfully lead our organizations through that change, it is good to remind ourselves of change principles because it isn’t just technical skills that produce success.  In fact, anyone who has lead any initiative in an organization understands that without the elements of change, no amount of technical skills can get us to the promised land.

So, let’s think about the key principles of change –

  • First and foremost, authentic, committed leadership throughout the duration of the initiative is essential.
  • There must be compelling reasons to change, that resonate not just for the leadership team, but that will appeal to all stakeholders.
  • Leadership must articulate a clear and legitimate vision of the world after the change initiative.  The vision must be widely understood and shared.
  • With the foundation pieces in place, leverage the “early adopters” where there is low resistance and from whom to learn from mistakes with a forgiving partner.
  • Leverage early wins by taking what you learned with your early adopters to the broader organization.  Integrate with competing, initiatives.
  • Set benchmarks, measure progress and celebrate wins.
  • Identify the systems that influence the desired change and modify them support (and not fight) the desired change.

Remember that continuous improvement is about continuous change.  Facilitating the ability to change is critical.  Focusing on technical skills without addressing the foundational elements of change won’t yield any progress.  It’s not that it is only half right.  Technical and cultural capabilities work together and, if either is missing, progress isn’t possible.

If you’d like to discuss any of these topics, please feel free to contact me.

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