3 Questions to Ask Before We Start Any Transformation Effort

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One of the biggest challenge when it comes to successful transformation efforts, is the stickiness of change in behaviour expected as part of the transformation. Any intervention is considered successful only if it leads to a lasting change in behaviour. And this is where most transformation efforts fail – they do not create a lasting change in behaviour that it set out to create.

When we think about the reasons for this, we usually find the following:

1. People do not want to change

This is the most common situation. This can happen when the change is being forced on the teams without their buy-in. Almost all change efforts (including trainings) fail because no one thought it was important to involve the people who need to change in the prep or planning phase.

They do not see the need to change or perhaps there are fears, doubts or objections that they have which needs to be addressed first, before we can even plan the change. Sometimes, this could be a deeper issue with respect to their mindset or belief systems. A lot of times, it is also about lack of trust in the leadership.

2. People do not know how to change

This can happen when there is a lack of know-how. They might lack the technical know how or skills required for them to make the change stick. This usually happens when leaders want to drive change without first adequately training their teams on the new process or tool or the combination there of.

This can also happen if the teams do not know what is clearly expected of them. This is a communication problem – no one knows what the new behaviour should be. The end state has not been clearly defined, which is a failure of the leadership.

3. People do not have a chance to change

This can happen when the teams are already too busy working on their current workload and have no time to learn the new skills required or are busy fire fighting and do not have the time to think about the change that is expected of them.

This usually happens when leaders want the teams to continue to stay on their current course and at the same time make the necessary changes they expect. This is like changing an aircraft engine while in flight – never works.

This could also happen if there is no tolerance for mistakes on the part of the leaders. When you are making significant changes and interventions, there is always the risk of mistakes and failures. If the leaders are averse to such mistakes or failures, the teams will remain skeptical of any interventions and will continue to exhibit the tried and tested behaviours.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, if we really want our teams to change, adapt and learn, we need to first answer these questions:

Is our team willing to change?

Do they know what to change to?

Do they have the time, energy and the skills to bring about this change?

We need to kick start any intervention only if we have a “yes” to all the three questions. If the answer to any of these questions is in the negative, we need to first address that and get them to a “yes” before we start any intervention.

This post is inspired by a post by Adam Voigt about Systemic Enablers. You can read his entire post here.

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