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The five factors critical for change

Spinning wheelsYes, change is hard, but there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing a really good organisation, with inspiring ideas and outstanding opportunities, spinning its wheels and getting nowhere.

Initiatives that could deliver brilliant breakthroughs get starved of support, disappear under day-job or become pinned down by politics. If that’s your situation, and you want to change it, here are five critical success factors to consider. Which of these factors are you missing?

Urgency: Every day your people are making trade-offs between what is important, and what is urgent. In that environment, urgent will always win out. Only when it’s your first priority in every conversation will it become your team’s first priority, and only then is it likely to happen.

Vision: Are you clear on what future you’re trying to build, and why? Does the whole team share that clarity? Ask them individually to describe the change they want to see, and listen out for passion and commitment. If they aren’t committed, you’re not going anywhere fast.

Objectives: To turn a vision into reality, you have to break it into “chunks” and define objectives that are near-term and achievable. This is where your vision can get blurred, so be challenging. Make sure you have clear short-term goals, and solid plans to deliver them.

Ownership: Agree key milestones with those who will lead the change and let them decide how to achieve them. Have frequent check-ins so that it stays on the urgent and important piles; they get the support and advice they need and you get to shine a spotlight on their success.

Capacity: In turbulent times, it’s not the most efficient organisations that succeed; it’s those most able to rapidly adapt. Change isn’t cheap; it takes time, money and people with the skills and the head-space to overcome the challenges they will inevitably face. Are you prepared to free-up and skill-up your best people? If not, it’s clearly not that urgent.

Bottom Line: When leading change, momentum is everything. Land some visible wins and you’ll quickly find people getting off the fence and onto your bus. You don’t need to map the whole journey, but you do need to commit: put some fuel in the tank and open the throttle. It’s a lot easier to turn a vehicle once it’s moving.

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