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How to use the eight pillars of change in business transformation

by Leon Labovitch on 12 Dec 2016

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In her recent inaugural address, Prime Minister Theresa May cited the word "change" no less than 29 times. This included: "Change has got to come" (seven times), "change the direction of our nation", "change in the way our country works", "deliver the change they need", "change will never just happen by itself", "driving change", and others.

One might correctly surmise that the agenda for our country, and its success in business and government, is change and transformation!

Having thrown down the gauntlet, how can we best respond to the Prime Minister's challenge? In a series of features, I'd like to demystify the many aspects of "change" and explain how we can deliver successful change and business transformation.

When I first began helping clients, transformation and change management as business concepts were in their infancy. I came up with the concept of the "Eight Pillars" to focus on the "must haves", in order to guide and deliver success.

This article describes the Eight Pillars of Change, each as illustrated icons, which are easy and practical to grasp. In future articles, I'll provide case studies and explore important topics, such as engagement, purpose and creative expression, in greater depth.

Each icon is a headline guide, which must be included as a cardinal item in each programme:

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1. Agree a high-level plan

Treat your programme as a change programme. Too often, a tactical and piecemeal approach is wrongly adopted. Agree a high-level plan, including the case for change, sponsorship, staff readiness, change planning, risks, communications, implementation and benefits realisation.  

2. A business model for the new world

The success of a change programme will hinge on developing the right business model for the "new world". This should be shown clearly in early presentations, including how the business will work across central functions, operating companies and geographies.

3. Develop toolkits

These are learning kits for tackling all the new skills required to deliver effective and lasting change and, among others, include effective engagement, leadership, culture, conflict resolution, negotiation and managing resistance.

4. Engagement is key

Everyone should feel part of the change, giving feedback, demonstrating new behaviours and showing involvement.  State the facts and give the benefits. Answer the question: "What's in it for me?"

5. People resist change

The well-known "change curve" shows phases of denial, resistance, acceptance and reconstruction. In practice, only 10 per cent will be early adopters, 10 per cent will resist strongly, and the majority (80 per cent) will slowly come around to new ways of working (accelerated by a good change programme!).  Get the early adopters to lead resistors. 

6. Opportunities for creative expression

There are wonderful opportunities for creative expression. For example, with a merger develop the leadership story and new values/ brand identity through graphics, sound bites and film. Get staff to show they are engaged and adopting new ways of working by making their own local videos through a "credibility campaign".

7. Assess and develop culture

Cultures are fascinating, differing, vital and living expressions of "how we do things around here". Some are "command and control", others are dynamic and empowered. You can assess and change culture and behaviours – a start is a good diagnostic tool to provide the baseline and vocabulary for moving forward. 

8. Make change happen!

Ultimately, managing change combines the hard business skills and rigorous approach to programme management with the emotional intelligence, creativity, good judgement and practical awareness that people are "the ones" who will make change happen and deliver business results.

The Prime Minister's comment that "change will never just happen by itself" is an understatement, and the need to "deliver" and "drive change" underpins the importance of high level markers - the Eight Pillars.

The Eight Pillars are a good guide but the need for an experienced person to help a client deliver change is equally important. In addition to top leadership backing and managing resistance, I often emphasise the importance of the "3Ds" - that is: delivery, delivery and delivery!

You may raise your eyebrows, but delivery is the most difficult Pillar to achieve and an experienced interim to help you successfully step off the sidewalk and across the road is excellent value.

An original version of this post first appeared on LinkedIn

Leon Labovitch is the founder and CEO of Labovitch Consulting Limited

Creating adaptable businesses

Topics: business transformation, Change

Leon Labovitch

Written by Leon Labovitch