3 Ways to Launch Productive Change

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

In today’s increasingly flat, networked and collaborative organizations, leaders seeking to drive productive change actively engage with their teams to make something better that improves performance, strengthens competitive advantage and creates strategic value

Most teams want to do meaningful work, to make a difference beyond their functional responsibilities; but they need their leaders to provide direction and grounds to act on this aspiration. Their leaders perceive change initiatives as opportunities to produce positive outcomes while enabling them to practice and refine their relational, communicative, interpretive, and affective skills. So all involved share the ownership for a change initiative, and the benefits produced when its promise is fulfilled. 

The most effective way to begin building ownership for a change is for the leader and team to collaborate on identifying the right first project. Here are three ways forward: 

  1. Conduct an operations assessment. The leader facilitates a discussion about which department processes are working well in producing quantifiable benefits for the organization, and which require improvement. Processes targeted for an upgrade are then prioritized by (1) estimating quantifiable benefits expected from a process improvement (moving faster, increasing adaptability, reducing waste), (2) projecting when those benefits might be realized, and (3) identifying likely obstacles to be overcome. The rankings from this exercise then guide the selection of which initiative will be launched.
  2. Review a book. The leader or a team member reviews an insightful book or article with the team, after which the leader solicits agreement that they all will read and discuss the content of the text by a specific date. The subsequent discussion then focuses on what the team has learned from the reading, how it relates to the department’s functionality, and which department processes could be improved as a result. Potential change projects are then prioritized as described above and the first project is initiated.
  3. Bring core values to life. The leader asks the team to choose one of the Company’s core values and think about a time when they witnessed that value in action within the team, the organization or elsewhere; this assignment is then completed for each value. Sharing these stories helps the team understand how the Company’s values should live within the organization, to shape its culture and produce better results. Expected behaviors become clearer, highlighting departmental processes that either enable or disable the team’s ability to achieve goals and objectives in a manner consistent with core values and accepted behaviors. Potential improvement projects are then prioritized.

Which of these methods could help you and your team identify and launch the right change initiative?

How do these concepts strengthen team ownership
for the targeted change?

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