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Monday, October 17, 2016

Adapting to Change, Start with a Clear Vision

When a person is undergoing significant change, five things are necessary to adapt successfully to the change:
  • A clear vision of how the situation will be after the change
  • Time to absorb the new vision
  • Time to adjust behaviors
  • Coping mechanisms to manage the stress of change
  • Time to ponder the meaning of the change, and to internalize and own the change
People are more likely to do things that move them toward a goal if they clearly imagine what their world will be like after the change is successfully accomplished. This mental adjustment needs to be imagined in positive terms, not in the dread scenarios we often create in our minds. Helping employees shift their mental context from today’s problems to tomorrow’s successes is the role of a Lean Champion.

Successful change is hinged on a picture of a desirable future. Vision can provide both a corporate sense of being and a sense of enduring purpose. While incorporating a measure of today's success, vision transcends day-to-day issues. And, by providing meaning in both the present and the future, vision can empower and encourage leaders and followers to implement change.

An unclear change vision can derail the transformation of a company. Without a sensible vision, change efforts can dissolve into a list of confusing projects that take the organization in the wrong direction. Efforts without a clear vision are bound to fail, even if plans, directives, procedures, programs, goals, and deadlines are properly laid out. The many details of transformation can confuse or alienate employees unless they have a clear understanding of where they are being led. It is important that the vision be easy to communicate.

A change vision should be compelling enough to motivate fundamental rethinking at all levels of the company. However, it should not be impossible to realize. If the change vision is difficult to attain then it will have no credibility, and change will never take place.

According to John P. Kotter, the success of a company's transformation process depends on how easily and quickly the leader communicates the change vision to his employees and on how readily the employees understand and take an interest in the vision.

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