It’s fairly common knowledge that creating and communicating a compelling vision is important for any change effort. A well-crafted vision helps align people on a clear path to the future. The vision gives people direction so that short of any other information they still know where to aim.
The trouble is that organizational change only happens when there is a change in behaviors. If you want to influence change, you have to figure out what you want people to do, so you can figure out how to get them to do it.
The vision does not tell people what to do; it tells them where they are going. If you tell a group of people in New York that their destination is San Francisco in three months, left to their own devices they will decide for themselves if they want to fly, drive, bike, walk, or somehow swim.
Of course, you also cannot figure out every task of every person every day that is required to reach the vision. Not only is it an impossible task, but it would surely end in revolt.
The happy medium that will attain results is to determine the key behaviors of certain individuals. For example, in Case Study: A Roundabout Path to Increasing Employee Suggestions, it was assumed at first that the key behavior was to get people to turn ideas into the suggestion box. It turned out that the key behavior that increased suggestions was to have the managers ask for them.
Once you know the key behaviors that will elicit change in your organization, you can work with those individuals and groups to ensure that they happen (through accountability, incentives, communication, etc.). Use the vision to give people a sense of direction and purpose, but don’t rely on it to align important consistent behaviors.
What are the key behaviors that will drive change in your organization?