Change is Difficult; Not Changing is Fatal

November 17, 2015

Last month, I wrote about how critical it is for organizations to manage change (The Change Imperative: Organizational Survival is Optional).  With all organizations facing an extraordinary level – and accelerating pace – of change, and with nearly 75% of change efforts failing, successfully managing change today could be the difference between success and failure.  Between survival and organizational demise.  As I quoted Deming last month: “it is not necessary to change; survival is not mandatory.”  It’s really just that simple…

But there are ways to tilt the odds.  Last month, I outlined 10 best practices that increase the chances of facilitating successful organizational change – all based on many proven models of change (such as Prosci’s ADKAR Model, Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model, McKinsey’s 7-S Model, and Lewin’s Change Management Model).  And this month, I offer 63 more tips, insights, and best practices for managing change and harnessing culture.  Yes, there are 63 – but they are all 140 characters or less, as they are tweets from a conference we hosted last week in partnership with the MN Section of ASQ and the MN Healthcare Quality Professionals (Thriving on Change; Harnessing the Power of Culture).

The event was well-attended, the speakers were truly outstanding in the insights and knowledge they shared, and the audience and discussion was full of energy.  If you missed it, I’m sorry!  But slides for most speakers at on this page, and the highlights are captured in these 63 tweets.  Read one a day, and you’ll have two solid months of insights to reflect on to help your organization better manage change.  In no order:

  • Change is difficult; not changing is fatal. – Dr. Rosie Ward, consultant, speaker, coach at Salveo and director of health coaching education, Fairview Physician Associates.
  • Most behavior change is “stuck” in old – and incorrect – motivational theory.  Change starts with THINKING. – Ward.
  • Most change efforts fail b/c they are outside-in, not inside-out.  We must change thinking to make change stick. – Ward.
  • We are creatures of habit; organizational cultures are hard to change. – Ward.
  • Culture = the underlying, hidden beliefs and attitudes that shape organizational behaviors. – Ward.
  • High performing cultures have employees who are engaged, enabled, and energized. – Ward.
  • Leaders need to create and nurture an intentional culture, not an accidental culture. – Ward.
  • Leaders can’t change or motivate employees, but need to change the conditions that inspire and motivate employees. – Ward.
  • People only support what they help to create.  Get employees involved. – Ward.
  • A positive, high-performing culture starts with strong, effective leadership. – Ward.
  • So we must invest in making difficult, meaningful changes (not the easy, quick fixes). – Ward.
  • Oftentimes change efforts get “stuck” b/c of the desire for and illusion of CONTROL. – Ward.
  • Organizational change cannot only be mechanical and technical.  Must also be adaptive b/c it involves people. – Ward.
  • Leaders shape the culture, but more importantly, the culture shapes the leaders. – Jack Priggen, CEO, Cardinal of Minnesota
  • To preserve culture, leaders have to bring in the right people, and also have to let go those who don’t fit. – Priggen
  • Organizational habits become traditions and rituals.  Culture can be hardwired. – Christine Miller, director of quality & strategy, Cardinal of Minnesota.
  • To create movement, you need an engine, a rudder, navigation – the same in organizations as it is on a boat! – Scott Martens, Chief Innovation Officer, Hennepin County
  • All organizations have knowledge networks.  Connect the dots to connect the networks.  – Vikas Nurula, creator and cofounder, Keyhubs.
  • Culture can be assessed, changed, and reinforced. – Nick Eian, president, Endurant Business Solutions.
  • Culture is reflected in the organizational leaders’ words, actions, and artifacts. – Eian.
  • There are written and unwritten cultural rules.  Ceremonies, rites, rituals are important to sustaining culture. – Beth Schaefer, director of the Institute for Professional Development, Metro State University.
  • Organizational systems – structure, rewards, decision making, measurements – should reflect its culture. – Schaefer.
  • An organization’s core values are core – not always written, but always central to decision making and behavior. – Mike Frommelt, principal, Keystone Search.
  • To preserve culture, organizations should recruit, hire, and train employees in alignment to the organization’s core values. – Frommelt.
  • We can’t serve others if we are not in relationship with them. – Rocky Chapin, CEO, Benedictine Health Systems.
  • Leaders need to appeal to peoples’ head, heart, and hands to mobilize effective and sustained change. – Paul Batz, Good Leadership Enterprises.
  • Biggest mistake leaders make in leading change is in not taking care of themselves first.  Resiliency is critical. – Batz.
  • Tools – like Lean, PDCA, Six Sigma – are means to an end.  They facilitate change, but they are not the change. – Linda Wadewitz, director of continuous systems improvement, Winona Health.
  • Improvement and change has to consider the entire system. – Wadewitz.
  • Training will help change behaviors; development will help change beliefs, values, and attitude. – Becky Lyons, training and development manager, Forum Communications.
  • Change requires first a plan, communication throughout the change, and measurement of the impact of change. – Phil Zeccardi, improvement consultant, Children’s Hospitals & Clinics.
  • Change plans should align priorities, be fact-based, be outcome-oriented, and consider the impact on stakeholders. – Michael Garner, improvement coordinator, Olmsted County and president of Momentum.
  • To inspire change, connect purpose to goals to strategies to priorities. – Neal Simon, director of enterprise continuous improvement, General Mills.
  • Change centers on what is important to the customer – it’s inspiring and motivating to employees. – Simon.
  • Kotter’s change model works: create a sense of urgency, form coaltions, create and communicate a vision, remove obstacles. – Maggie Shreve, OD Consultant.
  • Leaders need to prioritize and sequence change to optimize employees’ ability to change. – Skip Valusek, CEO, In-Home Lab Connection
  • To facilitate change, leaders must have compassion and empathy.  They must lead one person at a time. – Tammy Krings, organizational effectiveness specialist, Conversations that Matter.
  • It’s critical to socialize change – to get buy-in, input, and gradually sell the change. – Corin Hammit, corporate quality director and process improvement, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.
  • In any change effort, start with data, but don’t end with data.  Take action! – Cathy Beil, improvement data coordinator, State of Minnesota.
  • In communicating during change, the words you use are critical. – Amy Baskin, director of community education and communication, Austin Public Schools.
  • Systems drive behaviors.  Be deliberate in design to get the behaviors you desire. – Didier Rabino, VP and Lean Sensai, HealthEast.
  • Having a strong culture begins with having a strong mission and purpose. – Jeff Thiemann, CEO, Portico Benefit Services.
  • During change, you want commitment, not compliance.  The head AND the heart. – Sayre Darling, change management consultant, Courageous Communications.
  • To create change, focus on what works best for ALL – on collaboration, not collision. – Michael Sunnarborg, professional speaker and life coach.
  • Leadership transparency is critical to gaining employee trust. – Sunnarborg.
  • Expect positive relationships and you’ll get positive relationships.  But the same works in reverse.  You choose. – Sunnarborg
  • Between leaders and employees, successful change is based on mutual feedback, trust. – Kimberlee Williams, president, Center for Strategy Implementation
  • From birth, our cells absolutely crave connectedness. – Anna Maravelas, president, TheraRising.
  • We don’t resist change because we’re pigheaded.  We resist change because we’re invested in the way it used to be. – Maravelas.
  • In change, you cannot focus on 100 things, but you can focus on a few. – Robert Netzer, senior director, Seagate Technology.
  • Employee engagement increases the odds of above average organizational performance. – Nate Dvorak, workplace researcher and consultant, Gallup.
  • Only 30% of the workforce is engaged.  Millennials – the fastest growing segment of the workforce – are the least engaged. – Dvorak.
  • Teams of 5-9 employees are the most engaged. – Dvorak.
  • 3 ways to improve engagement: 1) talented manager, 2) focus on employee strengths, 3) performance management system: expectations, recognition, development. – Dvorak.
  • Culture is the way people behave and how work gets done.  It can be created and managed. – Dvorak.
  • Drivers of cultural identity: leadership, human capital, work structures, values, and performance. – Dvorak.
  • 4 hallmarks of a strong cultural identity: clarity, consistency, alignment, and commitment. – Dvorak.
  • Employees who are aligned with an organization’s aspired identity perform better on all indicators than those are not. – Dvorak.
  • Change starts at the top, but needs to be managed in the middle.  Train, coach, support middle managers. – Jeff Keller, manager of leadership and organization development, Mayo Clinic.
  • Leaders are put into place to lead change, not to maintain status quo. – Keller
  • People don’t need another tool; they need to have better relationships. – Keller
  • Choosing a change management methodology provides a common language. – Keller
  • The antidote to change fatigue is not rest, but engagement. – Keller

So thanks to everyone who attended the conference, to those who shared their insights, and to those who captured them on Twitter using #Change2015!

What comments do you have regarding how to successfully manage change?  Participate in a discussion on this topic: visit our LinkedIn group to post a comment.  And follow me on Twitter @LassiterBrian!

Never stop improving!

Brian S. Lassiter

President, Performance Excellence Network

Catalyst for Success Since 1987!