The What, Who and How of Delivering Results
Buying the gym set doesn’t make you fit; the habit of exercise does. So good intent, embodied in a new strategy or new operating model, will take you only so far. Only 12% of companies actually achieve what they set out to accomplish. And 50% settle for a significant dilution of results. In successful programs, executives anticipate and overcome the blind spots by addressing the ‘what, who and how’ of change:
- What do we want to achieve? (And why is this important?)
- Who will make change happen? (And who will support them?)
- How will we get there? (And what might get in the way?)
Clear direction on changes in strategy, organization and processes are, of course, critical, but new programs most often fail in the implementation. And it’s the behavioral dimension that companies tend to neglect—especially the challenge of building a pragmatic plan to change the specific new behaviors required, both at leadership level and at the front line. Effective change requires leaders who can inspire people and provide them with the internal compass to align their subsequent behaviors, decisions and actions. This vision often works more through metaphors and stories than facts, and it emphasizes the destination as well as the journey.
Who makes change happen? While some innovations come from people just doing their jobs, breakthrough ideas often need a dedicated effort from people freed from daily work pressures. But project teams overseeing the new program can become disconnected from the front line that carries out the change. It’s essential to identify who on the front line is most affected and how the company can support that group of people. Accountability for delivering results rests with front line employees and their supervisors. Among them it’s crucial to identify who will be instrumental in sharing the case for change and motivating the right behaviors.
The pace and scale of a change program cannot exceed employees’ capacity to handle it along with all their other responsibilities. So take a breath, step back and ask, “How much more can our sponge absorb?” What might seem from the top to be a logical sequence of initiatives can feel very different to someone on the front line being asked to engage with several initiatives at once while also carrying out business as usual. Then once a program starts, it’s important to maintain a clear sense of progress.
If you can answer these questions positively, then you are much more likely to be among the 12% of companies that actually attain the goals they set out to achieve.