Talking Point: The Disney Institute Blog

When Failure is Not an Option: Nurturing Organizational Change

August 07, 2014 by Jeff James, Vice President & General Manager, Disney Institute

Earlier this week, we discussed the reasons that 70 percent of all organizational change fails. These obstacles can continue to plague future attempts at change, and even worse, they can have dire impacts on employee engagement and organizational culture.

But, knowing the cause of failure is only half the battle. In part two of this series, we explore how to overcome these challenges and nurture successful organizational change. Here are several things you can do to help ensure that the change your organization seeks becomes a reality:

Talk to colleagues. Have an honest, open dialogue with trusted colleagues to determine whether or not the four key challenges cited by author Rick Maurer (listed in our previous post) exist. Once you have identified the gaps, begin to develop a long-term strategy to address them.

Assess your organization. Sometimes the conversation that needs to be had the most is the "elephant in the room." Don’t shy away from the awkward conversation. 

Involve others early on. Look for as many opportunities as possible to involve others in the decision-making process. People are much more receptive to change when they feel they have been given the opportunity to weigh in on and be a part of the process, and it will have a direct impact on sustaining organizational culture throughout the change period. 

Establish a vision for the future. Great leadership skills inspire people to action, and successful organizational change requires an engaging and inspiring vision that creates excitement and motivates employees to commit to the proposed change. Consider the following when developing and communicating your vision

  1. The Audience: Who is the audience for the vision you are proposing? Your audience may be your direct reports, your front line, your peers, or even your own leader.
  2. The Status Quo: What is the urgency for change? Explain why change must occur, and why it needs to happen now.
  3. The Change: Explain why this is the right thing to do. Who will it benefit and why?
  4. The Barriers: Change isn’t easy. Describe the obstacles your audience might encounter along the way. More importantly, reinforce the steps you have taken and will take to ensure those obstacles are overcome.
  5. The Call to Action: What will success look like? Use imagery to tell an inspiring story of how your vision improves the current landscape for everyone involved.

Consider including these steps as part of your change management “action plan,” and you will stand a much better chance of nurturing successful organizational change.

*Source Credit: Rick Maurer, "Beyond The Wall of Resistance"

Tell us about successful or unsuccessful changes within your organization — what worked and what did not? Why?

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Posted in Leadership Excellence | Tagged Organizational Change, Change Management, Leadership, Vision, Culture, Jeff James

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