Keys for a transformation and impactful changes in an Organization

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By Raúl Molteni

The mistake of relying solely on asking

When an organization embarks on an impactful change, we might encounter situations like the following: the CEO is asked to provide a deep understanding of the organizational vision, the change sponsor is asked for a precise explanation of the reasons and objectives behind the transformation, a clear exposition of the guiding principles of this metamorphosis is required, and a distinct definition of individual roles in the project is sought.

From my perspective, we fall into an error: assuming that when someone initiates an impactful change, they have all the answers. We ask assuming that the “other” – the one promoting the vision, policies, and transformation – has a complete clarity of their intentions. My experience has shown me that it’s not the case.

Do they have a clear understanding of the behaviors that will need to change in each of their closest team members? Are the roles each individual should assume clear? Are the results they need to achieve well-defined? Are all the difficulties involved in achieving the vision clear to them? It’s worth considering that it’s something they desire but haven’t fully grasped yet.

A transformation or impactful change doesn’t begin with that level of certainty. If the change is impactful, you must embrace uncertainty and learn along the way. Understand that the best plan incorporates the analysis of progress and improves in light of the outcomes of that analysis.

The coalition of sponsors

I would like to emphasize the need for a coalition of sponsors (the board, senior management). Aligning the leaders within an organization, gaining their conviction, visibility, and support from the frontline leadership with strong leadership qualities is a key factor in showcasing and convincing others about the project’s importance for the organization.

When it comes to impactful changes, investing time to build such a coalition pays off significantly. Sometimes this coalition doesn’t need to be formally organized (it can be dispersed across different layers of the organization), but there must be clarity that a “critical mass” exists.

This allows you to demonstrate and paraphrase the old adage of the “Rule of 10%”; it states that an active minority of 10% of a committed and convinced population can significantly influence the passive majority and bring about a change or revolution in a society or group. If the change is impactful, one sponsor is not enough. Consistent messages and behaviors are required from the entire senior management and leadership.

The contribution of Coaching

On the other hand, achieving genuine teamwork within an organization is not easy, especially at higher levels. This can be due to beliefs and convictions, differing interests or objectives, or even shared interests and objectives.

I’ll leave the precise explanation of what coaching is to those who know it best, but I confirm that it’s an excellent way to achieve flexibility and open-mindedness, understanding, and a willingness to accept others’ positions. This, in turn, allows for synergistic and creative collaboration.

Allowing oneself to be guided by a coach, having the opportunity to discover how that internal voice we all have can lead us to judgments that work against us, and understanding how we condition others and ourselves with our judgments are key learning elements for those leading impactful changes.

The Facilitator is essential

Coaching has a starting point: the coachee’s willingness. However, when an organization requires change, it’s not always feasible to expect everyone to reach that point, especially if the owner, CEO, or a highly involved manager needs to do so.

This is where the role and necessity of a Facilitator come in. Unlike a coach, the Facilitator engages in addressing the issue at hand. They seek the causes of differences and help find solutions. They don’t facilitate individual reflection but directly intervene in resolving conflicts. They are the ones who “grease the wheels” of relationships to find common interests and agreements.

So, to avoid the temptation of relying solely on asking, to achieve the coalition of sponsors, and to leverage the benefits of executive coaching, a good Facilitator is ultimately key to the transformation.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

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