I have been lucky to be a part of the change management initiatives across organizations, sometimes as an advisor, sometimes as a team and a couple of times as a leader. Every change management initiative had its share of challenges and frustrations, but it has always taught me a few important lessons, which I thought I should share.
One aspect that many great leaders understand, which differentiates between their failure and success, is that they first focus on people and their alignment, mind-set change and capability building instead of getting enamoured by the process and product design.
Below are some of my learnings that I continue to learn from many great leaders while introducing a successful change management:
a. Collective intelligence: All successful change managements begin by harnessing collective team intelligence. Many leaders ignore the same assuming that either they or a few high of the performers in the organisation have all the required knowledge and ideas. Team intelligence across the spectrum is not only useful to generate innovative ideas, but also highlight the pitfalls. I have seen ‘many successes being shaped through strategies emanating out of collective intelligence which remains far more practical, comprehensive, and detailed.
b. Identify niche strengths to build lasting competitive advantage: Every organisation is like a human with its own character, behaviour, and unique strengths. Many times change management exercises are guided by superficial benchmarking of successful competition (processes and products) which becomes a risk rather than success. Great leaders undertake benchmarking, but try to find inherent “niche” strengths of the organisation to develop unique processes and products – which in the long run not only provide success but also emerge as a significant/valuable competitive advantage.
c. Know the motivation of super performers: It is necessary for any organisation to encourage super performers, who provide both great results and inspiration to others. However, before making these super performers champion change management initiatives, successful leaders invest time to understand the personal motivation of these performers. Many times failure stories emerge out of the differently aligned personal and organisational motive of a super performer, who are almost always the chosen champions. In fact some change management initiatives may need tough calls which apparently many may not understand initially, but in long runs work wonders for everyone.
d. Avoid personal obsessions: Last but not the least one of the biggest risk in any change management is the personal obsession of a leader. Many a times leaders do get possessed by an idea, area of interest, personal strength domains or personal gains (including recognition) which can at times not only derail an organisation but produce risks. Almost all successful leaders put their personal gains in the end and focus on successful completion of change management to ensure there is no derailment – after all life is long and fame will come around.