September 8

How To Implement Strategic Change: Are You Ready to Take Some Hits?

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This Week’s Focus Point
By Dr. Jason Carthen

Beginning of the NFL Season

This past weekend marked the beginning of the NFL season and there were many high points and for some teams…low points. One of the most talked about plays was the kick returner for the Pittsburg Steelers who leaped in the air and placed his foot squarely in the face of an opposing Cleveland Browns tackler. Based upon the commentary from the TV analysts, many believed the Browns did not come to play, until this act caused them to refocus and switch proverbial gears.

Shifting Process in Life

During my years in the National Football League, there was always a shifting of the gears depending upon where you were on the team’s timeline. For example, during training camp, there was one gear because competition was taking place and people were fighting for positions…that gear was full speed because jobs were at stake! During the regular season, there was another gear, and during the playoffs, yet another gear. The point is this…you had to be ready for the change required at each level of expectation or quite frankly, you would not be able to deal with the impending hits.

Dr. Jason Carthen: Strategic Change in Life

Leaders Indicate Better Direction

In leadership, this same premise holds true and the best way to introduce change in organizations is to do it strategic. You see, a leader does not just stand in front of a crowd and say “change” and then all of a sudden, change happens. So why as leaders, do we become frustrated when change does not occur? What are we not seeing that could help us move our organizations in a better direction? What’s missing? For some of us it’s support, for others it could be loss of the organization’s mission and ability to carry out its full potential. Whatever it may be, strategic change must occur in order to begin moving in the right direction again.

Qualities To Lead Strategic Change

One of the main qualities and skills necessary to lead strategic change is that of being a visionary. For example, a leader that is able to think beyond limitations set by daily normative actions can anticipate change. When leaders have a vision, they anticipate change based upon their environmental setting, economic stressors and the day-to-day changes in their respective markets. Additionally, visionary leader possess an openness to change and a desire to explore new opportunities and possible advances.

Five Key Steps to Implement

Before Strategic Change can occur, proper planning and organizational assessment must take place to gain momentum and achieve success in any organization. Five key steps prior to implementation would include:

1. Looking at the entire systems, not just their parts.
2. Realizing that there is a relationship between order and disorder, and self-organizing change occurs as a result of their interactions.
3. Understanding that even a small event in one sector can cause tremendous turbulence in another.
4. Utilizing essential tools including maps, models and visual images to make it easier to see the connections, relationships, and patterns of interaction.
5. Developing the ability to see emerging conditions, paradigms shifts, and opportunities for innovations by scanning across disciplines and industries.

The leader that seeks to get their organization ready prior to introducing change will be ready for the hits that are sure to come once change has been initiated.

As a leader, what are you doing to prepare your organization for environmental change?


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