How to make nearly every change initiative last

70% of all change initiatives fail. According to HBR article – Cracking the Code of Change

People do not hate change, they hate change foisted upon them.

The brutal fact is that if you want your company to grow, it is constantly changing. You, as a leader, are a key agent of change.  Without a proven change process, you are rolling the dice.

Ari Weinzweig and his team at Zingerman’s have crafted a proven process that has been instrumental in growing the company, from a tiny bakery in Ann Arbor, MI in the early 80s to a ~$60M Community of Businesses. The process they developed, Bottom Line Change (BLC), accelerates growth, generates ideas and grows leaders,.  There are webinars to attend, classes to take and books you can read to get the full picture (link to the site at the end of article), but here are the highlights of the process:

Bottom Line Change (BLC) -> 5 steps

Premise: Any change relates to fixing a problem or creating an opportunity.  Any and all team members are invited to initiate and participate in the change process. All change creates resistance. The way to affect change is to overcome resistance. 

Their formula for change is:

Dissatisfaction x Vision x First Steps > Resistance

If any of the factors on the left of the equation are zero, you will not overcome the resistance and change will either not happen or will wither and die soon after implementation.

A way to overcome resistance is the following proven, 5-step process:

1.  Write up a clear and compelling purpose for the change. Share this proposed change DRAFT with a few people (don’t ask the senior team) who will be impacted to ask for feedback.  This is a crisp, and persuasive pitch as to why the change is necessary and beneficial. 

2.  Write up a positive vision for the change and get leadership buy-in.  To be effective, regardless of content, the vision must be:

  1. Inspiring
  2. Strategically sound
  3. Documented
  4. Well communicated.

Share this positive vision DRAFT with a few people who will be impacted to ask for feedback.  The Senior Leadership team must agree that the change aligns with the company strategy.

TIP: Line up your ACEs: ACE stands for Advisory Content Experts. These are people who might have valuable insights and contributions and who can help craft the vision early on in the change process. They are people who have some content expertise to contribute.

3.  Engage a microcosm of people to manage the way you share the change.  This microcosm will determine who needs to know of and be informed of the change as well as the best way to communicate the change.

Over the course of a couple of minutes or a couple of days, the champion will ask the same two questions of the microcosm:

  1. Who needs to know about the impending change?
  2. What’s the best way to get them on board?

IMPORTANT: This group need not have expertise on the topic.  You are looking for key individuals to build positive energy and inform all who will be affected by the change.

4.  Ask those impacted (or a subset) to draw up an implementation plan.  I think this is the most powerful step in the process as it has the greatest influence on lasting change . Once this plan is written and approved, move to step 5 below.

5.  Implement the change.  The shorthand for this step is as follows:

  • Plan
  • Do
  • Check
  • Adjust
  • Celebrate success – VERY IMPORTANT!

For more on this, please visit the Zingerman’s Training website – ZingTrain – for the BLC pamphlet. There are many other resources on the site as well.

Be Exceptional!

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Bill – Multi-certified Growth Coach, Foundations in NeuroLeadership certified with Distinction, Predictive Index Certified Partner

For MA companies ONLY, as an approved Training and Development provider, Catalyst Growth Advisors can offer you 50% off program fees.  Click here to see if you qualify.

Published by Bill Flynn

Gazelles Member Advisor and early stage startup specialist with a proven track record with 16 Boston-based startups (9 to date with 5 successful outcomes, advisor to 7 others); SMB to Fortune 500 companies. 20+ years of Senior Sales, Marketing and GM experience in industries including mobile advertising, security, digital advertising, e-commerce and IT. Core Competencies: Player/Coach, Metrics-driven, Execution-based philosophy, Life-long learner

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