Situation: A company wants to execute a strategic shift in direction – taking it into a new business which will diversify its offering to customers. The CEO needs to assure that everyone is on-board to both speed the shift and minimize cost. What are the keys to successful strategic change?
Advice from the CEOs:
- Be front and center with your vision. State the vision clearly, in terms that everyone will understand. Focus on the benefits of the change for the company and employees and be realistic about the challenges involved.
- Be enthusiastic. This is critical to all change efforts. Be cheerleader as well as leader.
- Plan ahead and begin to communicate well in advance of the anticipated change. Plant seeds and encourage the team to generate options or solutions. Give all levels of the organization the opportunity to become involved and participate in both design and implementation of the change.
- Be consistent in messaging and support across the team. Don’t vacillate or promise what you can’t deliver. Employees will watch for the presence or absence of consistency. If it’s absent, they won’t join in.
- Conduct scenario analyses. This enables you to try out different futures and implementation options.
- Identify critical issues. Look at possible results – first consider the “most likely”, then “best” and “worst” possible outcomes. Considering best and worst generates new alternatives, and improves the perspective on the most likely outcome.
- Conduct visioning exercises. Create a graphic vision of possible futures.
- This increases group participation and sparks creativity.
- It improves group function, thereby enhancing results.
- Visual representation is more memorable than standard bullets and lists.
- Special thanks to Jan Richards of J G Richards Consulting – jgrichardsresults.com – for her insight on this topic.