I have written previously about the challenges of adjusting organizations to our rapidly changing environment in my Slideshare “Digital Transformation and the Customer Experience: Overcoming Barriers and a Framework for Success”. The reality is that over 70% of all major change efforts in organizations fail, so any sort of strategies to help mitigate this and achieve success are welcome additions to this framework.
One of the most referenced change strategies comes via John Kotter and his Kotter International Consulting Firm. Kotter’s 8 Step Process for Leading Change offers a great starting blueprint for organizational adaptation, and will be explored in this essay.
Defining the Problem
Kotter offers a fantastic overview of the problem at hand via this short video (see full post).
The rate of change in both markets and our lives is creating unprecedented uncertainty. Between new software platforms underpinning new and existing business models, and the growth of interconnection and complex adaptive systems, digital disruption is an ever present threat.
Members of the S&P500’s lifespan has dropped to just 15 years. Billion dollar businesses can now be built by a few entrepreneurs in a few years, often rising and falling just as quickly. With entire entrenched industries being threatened by much nimbler competition, the need to rethink bloated middle management, global divisional structures lacking connectivity, siloed departments operating as fiefdoms and toxic internal politics is an ever present reality.
Organizations facing this challenge without a plan often fall back on reflex behavior like outsourcing perceived problems to overpriced business consultants which often just repeats the cycle in the long term. Worse, when faced with the need to make decisions when facing this complexity, organizations let paralysis take over moving into a slow decline.
Reorganizing to be more nimble, intelligent and reactive to ever present change (especially from the influence of digital) requires a lot of hard work and diligence. Kotter outlines a great framework to hopefully drive greater success in these efforts.
Defining Success Goals
Before we jump into the process itself, it’s good to understand three categorizations of urgency where organizations are on the spectrum of change - Complacency, False Urgency and True Urgency. By defining a successful mindset first, we can get a better handle of what we are aiming for when we initially begin change efforts.