I wrote about the requirements for Change Leadership in my article 'Breaking the Mediocrity Barrier' , in which I gave an overview of an essential measure of the success of a Transformation approach:
VCRSP: Vision, Commitment, Resources, Skills and Plan
A large proportion of these programs fail due to the loss of Commitment, which requires the following to be successful:
The Senior Leadership must be fully committed to the change and be willing to accept that they will have to change as well as the rest of the employees. The Transformation starts with them and will then cascade through the organisation as priorities and expectations are aligned across the business. The behaviours that got them where they are today are not those that will get them where they want the organisation to go to and so they need to be Role Models in the change. This means being both a Visible Leader and ensuring that Communication is clear, consistent and frequent.
This is where I very often observe the fall-off in momentum in a Transformation, as the Leadership fail to realise that it is not sufficient to set the Vision, Resource the Program, Train and Skill the People and have a great Plan; they must be the change that they want to see. This is often a challenging issue for the person or people charged with the Transformation Management, as they cannot ignore this watershed moment in the Program or they will consistently run up against its barrier until failure is reached. This point in the Transformation I describe as follows:
The Leadership have had the Transformation described to them very much as Christmas might be described; a time when all of their wishes will come true; a time when gifts will be lavished upon them; sustenance will be in abundance; and joy will be on the faces of all. They will have wholeheartedly voted for Christmas.
However, at a certain point, this watershed juncture in the Transformation, the Leadership realise that they are, in fact, the Turkeys and Christmas may not be as comfortable as they thought.
What I hope to convey with this message is that Business Transformation cannot be about simply setting the direction and that, to gain the significant rewards on offer, the Leadership must be Change Leaders and, if at the time of loss of commitment it is not recognised and acted upon, the Transformation will be doomed to failure.
This element of Leadership Commitment is one which I think is the defining element of the ongoing discussion around whether Business Transformation, and in particular Lean Business Transformation, can be effected better 'Top-Down' or 'Bottom-Up', with my view being clearly that we need both the Leadership commitment and the Team Members engagement to be successful. Those Transformations that have been successful and are described as 'Bottom-Up', may well have significant evidence of employee mobilisation and bottom up leadership but will also have clearly met the VCRSP criteria, including Top Leadership Commitment. Similarly, for those Transformations that have been described as 'Top-Down' there will certainly have been very visible Leadership Commitment but the success would not have been attained without a clear engagement of the 'Troops'.
All elements of the VCRSP test of Transformation must be met if it is to be successful, although the Leadership Commitment is the one that most Transformation Managers struggle to deal with, due to the difficulty in challenging the Leadership, and this must be a real focus for all of us involved in Business Transformation if we are to deliver the results that we aim for.
"I aim to promote the global sharing of best practices in the application of Lean Thinking."