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A Transformation Tale

Optimize Blog - July 11, 2016 - 0 comments

Transformations call for more than rhetoric and superficial conversations around change. Old and existing habits need to be challenged and potentially discarded as it becomes clear what new habits and behaviours are required to be learned. We find however that it is hard for some to achieve the objectivity needed to question and change their daily routine while they are still actively immersed in it.
In our experience corporate leaders in a transformation tend to default to the same things but just doing them cheaper or faster. However full cognitive and emotional complexity of the transformation process can only be successful when its leaders have sufficient opportunities for reflection and take time to create a picture of the future. In short, everyone affected by the transformation has to land on the same page.
The most energetic proponents of change are often naturally drawn to the rhetoric while for others the pressure of day-to-day events results in a complete lack of motivation to be involved with the need for change.
The transformation of any company or organization requires all leaders and employees to adopt a new view of its future, a future they must regard as essential. Before employees can arrive at this deep conviction, three things must be absolutely clear to them.
First, the “why” of the transformation program, as well as the “why now,” must persuade them. In addition, the benefits of success and the consequences for failing to act must be equally obvious. Second, the company’s new future—the “where to”—must be clear and exciting to everyone. Third, each employee must understand the personal benefits of the program. As we have stated many times before, the leadership must have credible answers to that natural question, “What’s in it for me?” To inspire genuine conviction, the program’s rationale and goal must withstand the toughest scrutiny from the most cynical observer.
But here is the rub. It needs to be recognized that leaders cannot create a compelling new reality simply by voicing the arguments supporting the need for change because human beings master complex new activities not by reading or thinking about them but through experience. A corporate transformation therefore requires that everyone in the organization has a direct, non-abstract experience. The vision cannot be brought to life through speeches, documents, and PowerPoint presentations as each individual must re-create it personally. Leaders can, however, create an environment where those required to transform can get an experiential perspective.
To help individuals cross their threshold of conviction, the leaders must provide a “screenplay” for the drama to come—a story showing why the company must transform itself, where it is heading, and how it will get there. The story must be so convincing and vivid that its readers will want to help it come true. Effectively framed, such a story can help people strengthen their conviction and start experiencing “the new world” even before it arrives.
Getting teams and individuals to move across that threshold of initial experience is undoubtedly the hardest task facing a leadership team trying to implement a corporate transformation. After all, the company’s leaders cannot know or experience anything on anyone else’s behalf.
The leadership group can’t transform individuals, but it can do much to foster their readiness to accept a transformation……..

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