Introduction

Introduction 

Dictionary.com defines behavior as observable activity in a human or animal; the aggregate of responses to internal and external stimuli. 

Change management strategies generally focus on a combination of people, processes and technology.  Ultimately the goal of a change strategy is to alter the behavior of an organization.  Specifically, the leader seeks to change how the organization is responding to its customers, to the marketplace, to competition, to new technologies, etc. 

What Great Leaders Know About Change 

The best leaders understand that everything else is a means to an end.  They are seeking to change the behavior of those they lead.   

Those who fail to grasp this ultimate goal can find themselves in an unending cycle of change that may gain short term results, but fails to sustain them.  They will seek newer technology, keep tweaking processes, or churn their people looking for the right combination. 

Even in an era where change is the only constant, change management strategies can be overwhelming to an organization if they always appear to be coming up short of achieving goals. 

When the leader is focused on people, process and technology, the organization isn’t really thinking.  The people are carrying out orders – they are reorganizing, they are implementing the new processes and learning the new tools. 

When the leader shows the ability to focus on behavior change, the people treat the organization structure, the processes and the available technology as the tools they can use, and are expected to use, to change the behavior of the entire organization.  This level of awareness is where breakthrough results are achieved. 

How does the leader change behavior?  

The steps are straightforward: 

Define the desired behavior — The first step is the most important.  If you cannot clearly describe the vision you have for how the organization will respond to specific challenges, there is little chance of success.  This is where effective change management must begin, with succinct definition of the desired end state. 

Contrast with current behavior — When you know what you’re trying to achieve, be aggressive in comparing and contrasting the desired behavior with current behavior.  This keeps people from falling into the trap of somehow defining their current behavior as consistent with or acceptable in the changed environment. 

Model the desired behavior — Start talking a new language with your organization.  Make it clear that people will become disconnected from you if they aren’t adapting to the changes at hand.  Never give anyone reason to doubt your commitment to the change strategy. 

Measure the desired behavior — Nothing will reinforce your commitment to new behaviors than changing the measurement system (and the rewards system) to reflect the changes.  If your goal is to improve quality of systems delivery, and all your change efforts are focused on that goal, your measurement and reward system can’t put top priority on cycle time.  It has to be quality. 

Expect the desired behavior — It seems obvious, but it’s important that you are constantly talking the talk, showing your own direct reports that change starts with you and them.  Never communicate with your people about anything, without making mention of the change strategy underway, progress to date, and your commitment to fundamental changes in behavior throughout the organization.  Settle for nothing less from everyone!

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