Once the current culture has been diagnosed and culture change inhibitors have been identified, it is necessary to craft a vision depicting the future reality that we want to achieve and the path towards this achievement. The new vision statement has to depict both the new destination model as well as how and why the culture has to be changed. So long as the culture change is an essential step towards achieving this vision statement, communicating why the culture needs to change and the benefits it will bring is the first step to take.
A vision that depicts a feasible path towards a state where the challenges have been overcome is a tremendous motivator and mobilizer. Research indicates that employees respond extremely well in terms of positivity, engagement, and of course productivity, when the company leaders have a clearly articulated and communicated vision that responds to people’s concerns and aspirations, as long as the leaders really walk their talk and results meet expectations along the way.
A well-crafted vision is essential to align the workforce and motivate them to make change happen. To be effective, the future vision has to comply with these six conditions:
- Imaginable: it conveys a clear picture of what the future will look like upon attainment of the vision statement.
- Desirable: it appeals to the long-term interest of employees, customers, shareholders and others who have a stake in the enterprise.
- Feasible: it contains realistic and attainable goals that stakeholders believe can be achieved.
- Focused: it is clear enough to provide guidance in decision-making and serves as a true north that aligns the actions of others.
- Flexible: it allows individual initiative and contingency plans in light of changing environment conditions
- Communicable: it is easy to communicate and to understand by the stakeholder audience.
Engaging people in the change process requires first the establishment of a sense of urgency, according to Kotter 8 step process for leading change. One of the best ways to do so is to craft a powerful case for change. This consists of a story that explains the change process that is coming to the organization. Its objective is to provide a common baseline of awareness and understanding among stakeholders. When facing the audience you should be able to tell the story in 10-15 slides and include visuals and graphics to enhance the story whenever possible.
The major content pieces to incorporate in the Case for Change story are the following:
Context: set the stage by explaining why changes are needed now, mainly referring to the opportunities and threats that make it necessary.
Changes: explain what will change, who will be impacted by the changes and to what extent, stating also what is not going to change.
Process: describe how the changes will be implemented and its expected timing, providing the next steps and introducing the team members who will lead the change.
Benefits: highlight the expected benefits as a result of the changes. Be sure to address all levels of benefits: enterprise-wide, specific divisions, and individual roles.
Consequences of delay: list out the consequences of delaying the changes. These are the counterpoints to those who would say “we can wait until next year to do this”.
Expectations: inform your stakeholders about what is expected from them. Make it clear that everyone has a role to play in successfully implementing the changes.
Commitment: the top leader should present the Case for change first. Then, subordinate leaders should present it to their teams, stating their commitments to make them accountable to their employees.
This blog post is from the Whitepaper “Building a culture of collaboration and innovation”, freely downloadable in this weblog. You may check the Whitepaper’s references to know the sources used for its elaboration.