Kurt Lewin, the father of Organization Dynamics, taught that change happens in three stages: Unfreeze, Change, Refreeze.
John Kotter studied over one thousand initiatives to identify eight reasons change fails to happen as intended.
IntelliVen Manage to Lead System Modules integrate Lewin and Kotter insights to help leaders conceive and implement Planned Change as suggested in the figure below.
1. Collect Insights
IntelliVen Offsites (circled in the figure) start with an electronic survey and one-on-one interviews with top team members to gain insight into how the organization functions as a whole, and / or in the context of the single, most important initiative, with these questions:
How are things today?
What good things happen if we change and what bad things happen if we do not?
How would things be if the ideal change were successfully implemented?
What needs to be done to go from where we are today to where things would ideally be next?
What will make it hard to do what needs to be done?
2. Share Insights with Leader
We organize collected data for the Leader and:
Highlight important and surprising findings.
Prepare to share it with the full team.
Help the leader prepare to articulate Where the Organization has Been, Where it is Now, and Where it is Headed to capitalize on the opportunity afforded by the offsite for the Leader to Set Direction, Align Resources, and Motivate Action.
3. Facilitate Team Offsite
At the offsite, IntelliVen Senior Operating Partners guide the Leader and Team to review insights, align to reach consensus on each of the five topics, and to decide what needs to be done using the workplans and facilitation approaches described here:
Schedule a Zoom session with PeterD to explore how IntelliVen Senior Operating Partners can help you and your team wrap up this year and get ready for the next as we have so successfully with many others over the years.
Manage to Lead (MtL) is a system of integrated tools, methods, and principles that executive teams use to pave and follow a reliable path to architect, build, govern, and change their organization for breakthrough improvements in performance and growth.
Users frequently comment on how helpful MtL Tools are when preparing:
A Business Plan
An Investor Pitch Deck / Management Presentation, Confidential Information Memorandum, Financial Model, and Teaser
Website and marketing collateral
New board and executive team member indoctrination
Access the Complete MtL System
To make MtL even more useable, you are invited to access the complete MtL System 24/7 for everything you need to apply MtL tools, methods, and principles on your own, including:
Ten Workstreams with step-by-step instructions that show how to deploy MtL tools and templates to prepare what your business needs.
When top leaders are informed, thinking critically, and engaged enough to provide guidance and direction, things tend to go pretty well. That is, things get done better, sooner, and more smoothly when leaders pay attention. This note describes an efficient way for top leaders to get and stay up-to-speed, see and understand what is going on, ask questions and think critically, develop a point-of-view, and provide advice and guidance on their organization’s most important functions, projects, and initiatives.
Nearly all of the things that cause activities and initiatives to go off track (see Kotter’s list of eight reasons initiatives fail) could be averted if someone in a position of authority had been involved enough to give guidance along the way. It is hard, though, for leaders to stay sufficiently engaged even in the most important activities and initiatives because it takes time and focused attention that is easily diverted to other urgent matters.
It Pays to Pay Attention
There are a lot of reasons why a given activity or initiative might be considered important. For example, it may be relatively large; risky; involve skills, technology, and methods that are new to the organization; have the potential for great leverage in terms of intellectual property development, revenue generation, cost savings, or skill development. When an activity or initiative is important, it is also important that the effort stays on track, on time, and on-budget!
The best way to ensure on track, on time and on-budget performance are for top leaders to regularly review with those responsible for completing the activity or initiative how things are going. Doing so provides an opportunity for:
Activity and initiative leaders to step back from the press of day-to-day in order to pull together a consolidated picture of what they are doing to share with others in a safe environment, to challenge their thinking, and to provide advice and counsel on strategy, focus, next steps, and to provide guidance, ideas, and resources that can be brought to bear so as to increase the odds of success.
Top leaders to stay in touch with what is going on with frontline activity. Any important activity (e.g., delivery, sales, development, marketing, strategic initiatives, etc.) should be reviewed regularly to keep leaders informed about what is going on and for leaders to efficiently provide guidance and direction, consolidate insights across activities, and to drive cross-sharing of resources, insights, and ideas in the best interest of the organization as a whole.
Informal communication on progress is not enough. Neither are occasional one-on-one chats. It is important that those in charge of the function or initiative need to be asked to prepare to brief others on their efforts in a scheduled forum where the activity or initiative is the only agenda. Even better is when others from across and outside the organization with a stake in performance or with relevant past experience and knowledge are also in attendance.
what we said we’d do
what we did
what we learned
what we plan to do next
Leaders set the tone for reviews to ensure that they serve their intended purpose (see: Review POAD) and that they are not done just for the sake of it and to be sure they do not become a “show and tell” exercise. Reviewers must make it safe for those whose work is being discussed to embrace the process and seek input from participants because what is being reviewed is what the organization does and deserves input from the best the organization as to offer.
Leaders ask questions to:
Draw out clarity
A review is an efficient and smart way for leaders to keep close to what is really going on and to increase the odds that important work gets done well. Reviewers must not look to find fault or assign blame. Instead, they strive to understand what is really going on and to find the best way to improve performance and learn the most.
Provide visibility for key staff.
Create high-stakes circumstances that push up performance.
Create a forum for executives to model the behavior they want others to emulate.
Reveal important lessons and insights to share with other teams and initiatives.
Reviews are successful when:
The Project Manager (PM) and the project team feel:
They have successfully stepped back from the press of the usual day-to-day to pull together what they are doing into a consolidated whole and shared it with a team of supportive professionals who themselves have reviewed advance materials, showed up, paid attention, participated, and supported the team by challenging its thinking, offering the best advice, and providing access to resources that can be helpful (such as written materials, outside experts, training, and time that will help improve performance).
That the preparation process, the review meeting itself, and the follow-up will help them achieve project objectives better, faster, and more smoothly.
Management is enlightened with respect to what was reviewed; specifically, what is working, what is not, and what needs to be done and learned as a result
The organization’s best ideas, thinking, resources, and skills have been brought to bear.
Supported, appreciated, enlightened, engaged, heard, and respected.
Appropriate next steps have been lined up in the face of the realities and understanding reached.
The PM understands and internalizes:
The group’s best thinking in terms of what can be done to most improve performance and/or lower risk and is committed to making that happen
The top few actions necessary to follow through
What others will specifically do to support these efforts.
An open discussion of status leads to the fertilization of ideas across the organization.
Top leaders collaborate in support of the PM on front-line work.
The work is completed successfully or it is going so well that reviews are no longer needed to ensure success!
Strategic Leadership is to change your organization the way you want. You don’t just want change, though, because change means different, not necessarily better.
We could say develop, which implies better, but towards what end? More specifically we want to improve but in what ways? What we want is to improve how well we do what we do, or performance, and how much of it we do, or growth.
Any organization is more likely to reach its potential to perform and grow when its leaders are clear about their organization today, where it is headed next and why, and when they know how it will get there. Strategic Leadership: Manage to Lead Using the Seven Truths introduces a straightforward yet rigorous way to describe and assess any organization as it exists and as its leaders would like it next to be considering external and internal threats and opportunities.