This article by Dorie Clark first appeared at Forbes.
We all know change is inevitable. Yet in the midst of transformation, too many leaders abdicate, says Rose Fass, CEO of the consulting company fassforward. After all, it can be hard to let go of a cherished initiative, or a product line that’s been successful for years.
But you have to be strong enough to take charge, says Fass: “The best kind of change comes when you envision, initiate and control it. That type of change creates opportunities, transforms companies and ignites growth.” Otherwise, you’re facing with the damaging prospect of “change that happens in spite of you, rather than because of you.”
Fass, author of The Chocolate Conversation: Lead Bittersweet Change, Transform Your Organization, says leaders should think of organizational change as a three-step process. First, you need to “define your change” – think expansively about the future and what change you’ll need to undertake. Next, you need to “sell your change” to your employees and other stakeholders. Often, this isn’t easy: “Expect it to be bittersweet, since you and everyone else are now exploring foreign company-wide territory,” she warns. Finally, it’s time to execute: “Genuine leaders get everyone else to buy in by diving headfirst into the cause and never asking anyone to do anything they wouldn’t do themselves.”
Fass offers a list of 10 “transformation topics” that she believes all businesses should discuss. If you have a handle on these questions, you’re well on your way to leading change, rather than letting it control you.
1) New Actions: Which ones do we need to make happen?
2) Core Assets: Do we know how to leverage ours?
3) Barriers to Success: What are ours and how do we knock them down?
4) Competitive Positioning: Where do we stand?
5) Key Differentiators: Are ours still making a difference?
6) Resources & Relationships: Can we get more out of ours?
7) Operating Climate: Where are we hot, cold, lukewarm or frozen?
8) Strategic Imperatives: Have ours been clearly communicated?
9) Strategic Options: Are our best ones identified?
10) Strategic Shifts: Where are ours occurring?
Change, says Fass, is bittersweet. But that realization means “you’ll be more prepared to persevere when the pain points start popping up. The course you follow to change also needs to be consistent or else it will cause confusion and slow everyone down to a crawl.”
How does your company master change?
Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Learn more about her book Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press) and follow her on Twitter.