Wade- Leading change is a process that is directly influenced by the culture of the people. As you work as a change agent people will be scrutinizing your every move looking for ways to validate their own self-justifying images. The greater certainty and integrity you can project the greater chance you have in leading change. In that process you need to be a situational leader that can respond to the audience and see the bigger picture and not get caught up in the nuances which can be a distraction to the vision. When you take on the responsibility of a leader you need to commit and not oscillate. When you hesitate that is when people get hurt. Be bold and communicate with integrity.
Accountability. Rules are only rules if they are enforced. People are always looking for boundaries and trying to figure out where the limits are. In the context of change, if I adopt the desired behavior will my sacrifices be rewarded and conversely if I ignore them will there be negative consequences?
In the absence of accountability change will not happen for the good. Altruistic motivation has its limits. Cultural norming takes over and individuals adapt to herd. Each step in the change model brings with it a new level of accountability and each time members of the team will look for reinforcing justification of why they should or should not conform. These justifications have significant influence on the effectiveness of the change initiative.
Unfortunately there is not a one for one exchange for accountability. If you are consistent in your standards for applications to the change, but then backslide on a seemingly trivial point it could have reverberating negative consequences.
Each level is interrelated as the boundaries are tested in the strength of the integrity of accountability.
Lessons learned from answering Ben’s questions to us and our combined brilliance.
We found the dialog with Ben to flow nicely going back and forth in an exchange of experience and insights. One of the key learning moments came when we acknowledged the universal need for trust in change. Even though we all brought different experiences to the discussion which crossed age, language and culture, trust was a common theme.
Organizations, at their core are just people. People want to be appreciated and feel that their contributions are appreciated and that they will be treated fairly. We are typically skeptical people that have had our trust betrayed at varying levels in our relationships. In order for change to be welcomed, trust needs to be high. When trust is low, costs go up and speed goes down. All of the most brilliant models and smooth talking cannot compensate for the human need for certainty and trust.
We are confident that Ben also found value in discussing these topics. He seemed genuinely interested in our backgrounds and asked thoughtful follow-up questions to our stories. This is consistent with his character as seeker of knowledge and not being a respecter of persons.
Fresh perspectives on the possible strengths or weaknesses of the 8 step model.
The 8 steps as they are diagramed seem to insist on a linear stacking arrangement. There is validity in the argument that if a foundational step is missed, the longevity or probability of success is in jeopardy is not necessarily true. Each of the steps will carry different significance depending on external and internal factors unique to the organization.
For example, creating short-term wins could be going on from the very beginning if that is what the team needs to build momentum. On the other hand a team could be so well conditioned to change that short term win recognition would be less significant.
The strength in the model comes from offering insights and a process that encourages thoughtful introspection when initiating a change. The magic is not in the model or the linear process. The power of Kotter’s 8 step process is from the awareness and application of the human elements in leading change.