If some day you have to implement a change, here are the eight steps necessary to get people to follow you. This can be within a company, in your family or in a community of neighbors. If the change is very desired, you may not have much resistance. The problem arises when the rest do not see or understand the problem or when fear arises. That’s when you need a different strategy. John Kotter, professor Emeritus at Harvard outlines the steps you should take to make change possible, like for example when you want to implement a new strategy, product or innovative idea. Let's see them below:
1. Generate a real need. The question you need to ask yourself is: what would happen if the change were not made? Is it really necessary? If you believe that not much would happen if things stay the same, then it becomes difficult to move. It’s like when you go to the gym without a clear intention to take care of yourself... you will happily pay the fee, but not much else. Therefore, if you want to mobilize others, convince them of the sense of urgency and need for the change.
Ask yourself: what would happen if the change were not made? Is it really necessary?
2. Look for resources and authority. It is nice to using messaging to open new lines of business, but often not even a minimal investment is made. We cannot pretend to make a transformation if we do not have the authority to decide. Therefore, the question you have to ask is: do I have the resources and the authority to realize the change?
3. Involve key people. It is possible that the transformation you are looking for cannot be done by yourself. To solve that, it is important to create a list of people or departments that can help you and analyze if they would be willing to do so, or if they would oppose it. Once that’s done, define different strategies for each one.
4. Convey what will not change. When we are working on something new we dedicate a lot of energy to talking about what will be different. But remember that feeling like there’s a lack of control can usually generate fear. Therefore, in addition to communicating what is going to change, be sure to inform people about what will remain constant.
5. Remove barriers. Sometimes we launch into change without planning what to do if we face obstacles. As summarized by José Conejos, expert manager in transformation processes: “It is more useful to remove the wheel chock for a truck to move forward, than to encourage people to push the truck.” The chock is a resistance that costs little to remove but that has a very strong impact. Therefore, what kind of shoes could you face? How could you remove them?
In addition to communicating what is going to change, be sure to inform people about what will remain constant
6. Create short-term goals. We all need to know if what we are doing is appropriate or not, or as they say in the business world, get feedback. If that only happens at the end of the process, people can fall into discouragement and lose motivation. Therefore, define intermediate goals, communicate them and, above all, celebrate when they are achieved.
7. Maintain energy with peaks of intensity. Any transformation goes through high and low moments. A transformation process needs energy, especially to overcome the potholes. Continuous improvement is important so intensity is not lost. You should have concrete initiatives throughout the whole process.
8. Establish the “new normal.” Once the change is made, you need to institutionalize it through recognition and communication. When the goal been achieved, make that clear and celebrate.
English version by Debora Almeida.