John P. Kotter wrote an interesting article in November’s Harvard Business Review about how organizations can increase the likelihood, and the success, of making necessary changes. A key component of his strategy is to recruit volunteers who are more naturally adaptable to change, combined with “change agent” type leaders, to offset the natural tendency of some leaders to resist change.
Following are some excerpts from his recommended “Accelerate Change” strategy:
“Organizational leaders are torn between trying to stay ahead of increasingly fierce competition and needing to deliver this year’s results. Hierarchies and standard managerial processes, even when minimally bureaucratic, are inherently risk-averse and resistant to change. Part of the problem is political: Managers are loath to take chances without permission from superiors. Part of the problem is cultural: People cling to their habits and fear loss of power and stature—two essential elements of hierarchies. And part of the problem is that all hierarchies, with their specialized units, rules, and optimized processes, crave stability and default to doing what they already know how to do. To move faster and further, you need to pull more people than ever before into the strategic change game, but in a way that is economically realistic.”
Mr. Kotter recommends looking for volunteers with the following qualities in mind:
- A want-to and a get-to—not just a have-to—mind-set.
- Head and heart, not just head.
- Much more leadership, not just more management. The game is all about vision, opportunity, agility, inspired action, and celebration.
Mr. Kotter proposed the following Eight Accelerators:
- Create a sense of urgency around a single big opportunity.
- Build and maintain a guiding coalition.
- Formulate a strategic vision and develop change initiatives designed to capitalize on the big opportunity.
- Communicate the vision and the strategy to create buy-in and attract a growing volunteer army.
- Accelerate movement toward the vision and the opportunity by ensuring that the network removes barriers.
- Celebrate visible, significant short-term wins.
- Never let up.
- Institutionalize strategic changes in the culture.
The travel industry is all about change. At Christopherson Business Travel we are rapidly introducing new technology, new systems, and new process. Change is, indeed good and we’re accelerating it.