Many people see large-scale change
as the execution of a well-formed idea, a clear set of objectives that
are carried out through a project. However, change is not that easy. A
project plan is required, but that is only the road map and the map is
not the territory.
To drive change successfully you need change leaders, those who face
the reality of uncertain and unforeseen events. The change leaders
steer day-to-day experience. They may adhere to the roadmap or they may
decide to deviate, doing whatever will achieve the best possible
outcomes. It is change leaders that wring the highest returns from the
realities of circumstance.
Further, change involves multiple constituencies. What the change looks
like from one group’s point-of-view is not what it looks like from
another’s. This is especially true of transformational change; i.e.,
those change initiatives that prompt the system to move to a new level
of performance, fundamentally shifting the nature of work.
Here it is helpful to have a Collaborative Change Leadership Team
working under the project’s leadership. This group of champions is
assembled from many points in the system, all the key constituencies.
They work together and individually.
Individually they reach out into their home constituencies, learning as
they go along, getting involved in the details of implementation. They
identify challenges, issues, and unique value opportunities.
Periodically they reconvene to share what they are learning and build a
robust, holistic model of the change which is conveyed to the project
This model is drawn not from what they imagine or
believe. Instead it comes from first-hand experience. What they have
gathered from the source is critical to assembling a powerful
understanding of the reality of the change. Collaboratively they
compile the future, piecing together a whole that will thrive on the
rigors of implementation, rather than suffer from it.
Running the Collaborative Change Leadership Team
1. Identify and recruit the champions
2. Bring them together and educate them on the transformation, helping
them learn, question, absorb, and articulate the change from their
3. Collaboratively develop a plan of action for each member to go out
and communicate the ideas to their people.
4. Periodically convene the Collaborative Change Leadership Team.
Reassemble regularly to compare notes and support/inspire each other.
To update everyone on recent developments in the project, listen and
reflect on what has been learned, identify themes and places in the
system that require special attention. This attention generally falls
into one of three areas:
- Specialized action – a particular group
requires a customized application or approach to implementation.
- Troubleshooting – an issue or warning has
emerged that needs to be addressed to either resolve a problem or
address it before it culminates.
- Harvesting unique value – one or more groups is
in a position to make a significant contribution to the project’s
success and action is required to take best advantage.
The Collaborative Change Leadership Team is an ally to any complex
change, providing the community that will carry the responsibility of
implementation. Their collective experience, political good will, and
group intelligence are invaluable in the inevitable ups and downs of
implementing difficult change.
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