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Posted on 03.01.2016

What’s your playbook for managing change?

Up to 70% of our work time gets wasted. When facing significant changes at work or big projects, don’t discount the power of the pause button.  Do some relatively simple pre-work by using this short-and-sweet approach, adapted from John Kotter’s 8 steps.  With a little discipline and dedication on the front end, you can save time, and some would even say, your back end, from derailment. 

  1. Begin with the end in mind.

What’s the problem you are trying to solve?  Clearly define the issue or task at hand and identify the most compelling data points that prove the need to fix it.

For example: Quantify missed opportunities, like lost revenue or decreased productivity to illustrate the magnitude of the problem, OR quantify potential gains if the problem is fixed or the project gets executed.

  1. Pick your team.

Assemble a core team of experts and create excitement and a shared need for the potential benefits of change by using the data from step 1.    

For example:  Think through all the subject matter experts you’ll need for success – a great place to start is with a communications expert.  Others include finance, IT, HR, clinical, operations, etc.  Picks stars and those who can influence others.

  1. Don’t take the stairs – use the elevator.

Using the “meat” from step 1, have the team create a short, memorable elevator speech.  It must tell the story of the problem, create urgency, and end with a persuasive call to action – all in the time it takes to ride an elevator. 

Here’s an example framework:

  • Did you know that (state the problem)?
  • Every month/quarter/year, we lose (insert data) or could gain (insert data).
  • A few of us have gotten together and want to (improve/capitalize/fix this).
  • Can I count on you to (support/join the team/participate)?
  1. Listen to their voices.

Make a plan to engage stakeholders from whom you need to “buy in.”  Generate an exhaustive list of players and key influencers involved in and around the issue.  Rank how much they agree or disagree with the need for change. (For scale, we like using 1 to 5; red, yellow, green work too). Use the elevator and spend some time listening.  

  1. Shape the vision together.

Using the feedback from the voices in step 4, have the core team shape the vision for what success looks like and how you are going to execute the work ahead.  Unharness the power of groupthink.

  1. Set the tone for accountability.

Create well thought out strategic and tactical plans with a timeline for sequencing milestones and setting realistic expectations. 

  1. Get it done.

Keep a master action item list that includes “who, what, when” (the person responsible for the action, the status of the work, and the deadline).  

  1. Celebrate the wins.

Don’t forget the emotional aspects of managing change.  People need to feel success early and often to keep the momentum.  Share stories, take time to socialize and thank those who are “making it happen.”

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