Making Change Happen 
Create Your Own Criteria

Harvey Thomson has a very clear and simple framework for making change happen. In his Lessons From Leading Companies, Harvey highlights the few key aspects of successful change efforts. The insight is in the simplicity of the analysis - it’s easy to communicate; it’s easy to get; and it’s easy to facilitate applying the principles to your own unique circumstances.

The Move to a New Design 

As we move from the traditional bureaucracy to a new organizational model we can identify a few key principles to guide our efforts to make change happen. These provide the intellectual framework around which we can organize - in terms of establishing decision criteria and crystal clear priorities.

The Key Principles 

We move from a focus on size to an emphasis on speed;

We move from a need to clarify roles to the need for flexibility;

We move from a structure of specialization to a structure that best enables integration;

We move from a management priority of control to an organizational priority of innovation.

What We Really Mean By Change 

What do we mean by change? Let’s define the key characteristics of the effort we are contemplating - what it will look like and what beliefs and values will guide us. These additional design criteria help frame the effort and the intent.

We want to transform how we do things as opposed to transition to new ways;

Our focus is results-producing as opposed to activity generating;

The efforts are ongoing as opposed to episodic;

The personal impact will be empowering as opposed to disenfranchising for individuals.

What Does it Look Like? 

How do we know if we’re on the right track? Every individual can relate examples from their experiences where very effective change happened almost spontaneously, and work teams accomplished - what were by any previous measure - extraordinary results. These peak performances are also usually recalled as the most energizing, uplifting, or gratifying work experiences of individuals’ careers.

An exploration and sharing of the experiences will surface most of the following comments, that Harvey has called the ‘zest’ factors. These are the visible, ‘tangible’ signs and ‘evidence’ that an intense, focused, urgent, and innovative change effort is underway. The ‘zest’ factors can also be easily contrasted with the ‘rest’ factors (as in asleep) that we normally call ‘business as usual.’

The Zest Factors 

· A sense of urgency;

· A challenge;

· Success is near and clear;

· People collaborate with a new team spirit;

· Pride of accomplishment;

· Fear of failure;

· Exciting and new, like a game;

· People experiment and ignore red tape.

We can then use the ‘zest’ factors to set the key design criteria for success. Your design criteria will probably look something like this:

Design Criteria 

· Set stretch challenges;

· Get short term breakthroughs;

· Focus on results instead of activities;

· Priorities are innovation and fun;

· Ensure cross boundary involvement and integration;

· Promote intentional learning and experimentation.

Thanks Harvey for a simple framework to create your own criteria for making it happen. N.B. Harvey Thomson is associated with Robert H. Schaffer & Associates. (ed.)

Many more articles on Leading Change in The CEO Refresher Archives


Copyright 1998 - Refresher Publications Inc. All rights reserved.

Current Issue - Archives - CEO Links - News - Conferences - Recommended Reading