At the Ten Ways Change Gets Stuck webinar earlier this week, I polled the audience to see which of the ten ways they felt were most likely hindering their current change initiative.
The top result: A whopping 63% of webinar attendees said Focus on Implementation was holding them back.
Focus on Implementation means you’re checking all the right boxes, moving your metrics, and getting things done, but if you do a reality check, you realize you haven’t really changed much. Even after all that success, if you or your project team stopped working on it, the project would fizzle out and the organization would go back to the way things used to be.
Some change agents take on the responsibility of implementing the change, and then hand the responsibility for sustaining the change back over to the business once the implementation is complete. The problem is that if you’ve been doing all the work, the business doesn’t really own the change, and may not be as committed to keeping it going as you are.
The key is to build sustainment into each step of the implementation. Here are some tips for how to embed the change throughout the process:
- Go for commitment and ownership, and not just buy-in.
- Be specific about roles and relationships that will reinforce ongoing change. Equip managers to lead change without you.
- When you design the vision, clarify what the organization will look like after you leave, not what it will look like during the change process. Ensure your success metrics measure that future state.
- Beware of the project team doing all the work. Enlist people in the business to participate beyond giving opinions.
- Find ways to prevent going backwards. Eradicate mechanisms that enable old processes and behaviors.
- Make it safe to voice resistance that may be lurking, waiting for things to go back to “normal.”
Focus on Implementation looks good on the surface, but success may only last until the implementation is over. Although it may seem easier for you or your team to implement the change yourselves, build change sustainability by driving ownership into the organization at each step.
Wondering how to customize all these elements to work in your organization? It would take a 3-day class to explain it all. Literally! Join the next Fundamentals of Influencing Change at Work course to learn the steps to making a long-term impact and apply them to your current change project. You’ll leave with practical steps you can start implementing right away.