Businesses freeze their own change activities uncertain of how the newly elected
(incumbent or not) president will drive the economy, foreign relations or other
government investments. Secondly the voting population becomes anxious around
the same issues. Debate happens around the dinner, coffee houses and favored
bars. Much dialogue follows but how often are people’s opinions actually changed
by all this political socialization? Experts agree that family, schools and other
spheres of authority have some influence on how Americans decide to vote1.
However today’s American voter is continuously rethinking his or her opinion
against the past and rarely do they change their deep-rooted opinions based on
opinions around them. It’s the message from the leaders (candidates) that
influence them. According to Pew Research2 of those of those who voted in the
2008 election 67% were most influenced by live Presidential debates.
Elections are a massive change event-affecting people with diverse perspectives,
mobilizing activists and other policy/process organizations that cost tens of
millions of dollars. Every enterprise will recognize common elements from the
election theme. Enterprises begin change events both big and small.
Too often there is much activity with little effect on the key areas that must be
addressed. People, process, systems and technology (in that order) are the poles
around which all Planning and execution occur. By addressing these five areas
and defining key measures you will have a more impactful and lasting change
“Bad decisions can be reversed, slow decisions sow doubt.” How change affects
the people in an organization is the most overlooked portion of change
management. Often those in the roles closest to execution are the last know what
is happening with transparency, accuracy and clarity. This leads to speculation,
rumors (“I don’t know what’s happening but what I hear isn’t good”) and a
It’s the anticipation of the election of a new leader for the
nation. Anticipation of change has two profound effects.
It freezes decision making for large public and private
Every four years, the United
States faces substantial change.
Lawrence Lerner Business Consulting October 2012
Identifying the fundamental
motivators within an organization
requires time and discipline.
Through Constructive Disruption
we identify the pieces and re-
assemble them in new and
The first step of Constructive
Disruption is Uncover. Discover
the need and problem statement
without attempting to understand.
To begin to understand you must
have some basic understanding
of the change problem. As with
all communication, a common
vocabulary is required.
During this phase it’s important to
collect without making judgments
or assessments. The subject
matter collected, just is as is. It’s
not even important if it’s true or
not. It what the end user believes
is true. At the end of the phase,
organize or catalogue the
information based on your
experience or best estimate. You
can refine later.
Uncover via Constructive
Phases of Successful
There is also an element of WIFM (What’s in it for Me?)
that must always be overcome. Change may be the New
Normal but it doesn’t always mean people accept it
willingly. As the change process begins people look for
their place and how they maintain relevancy in the new
Key to people change is the development of a
communication strategy with specific themes that
describe the change and why it is happening. Themes
must be aligned with your core measurements of the
“Automating fabrication processes in the plants enables
you to be more adaptive and responsive to market
changes. You are gaining responsibility because you are
closest to the customer.”
Enterprises want those these to be unambiguous and be
reinforced in the communications
plan as well as training and role
important to take an inventory of
people, their skills and desire to
enable change. We call this “Skill
vs. Will.” Knowing who your
natural Change Agents are will
enable the program drive lasting
impact more quickly. The rest can be guided to the right
course of action or moved into a more appropriate role.
Erik Arnold Chief Information Officer at Path, the Seattle
based international nonprofit organization that
transforms global health through innovation, is someone
who drives change that affects lives globally.
“I believe that no matter the discipline, no initiative will be
successful if it’s not accepted and adopted by all
involved. You have to take the time to manage change to
realize benefits in any efficient way. For me, a successful
change management plan focuses on impact to people,
processes, and policies first. Early on it must identify and
mitigate the areas of resistance to change. I find that it
helps to partner the innovators and early adopters with
some of the identified resistors and laggards early in the
process to execute the plan together.”
Before you begin change, can you map the current way of
doing things to the specific interactions of business, your
computer systems and people’s roles? Taking a process
inventory and illustrating is the first step in change. From
there you can measure the impact and define how the
process impacts all of the individual components.
Defining a process map from the very highest level down
to work instructions give people a starting point. From
there, the change journey becomes much easier.
Understanding the present state and how it touches the
enterprise allows the change team to begin mapping
future processes with clarity.
Process maps allow change agents to define the
interactions with detail. This detail translates to actions
and data that is managed and defines how the whole
system interacts. Well-defined and documented
processes are essential for the execution and
Computer systems increasingly play a role in every part
of business life today. Systems are no longer monolithic
or limited to the four walls of the data center. They are
part of the business ecosystem. New or revised systems
are often the catalyst for change and change
management journeys. As we evolve to increasingly
connected businesses the systems that supported the
enterprise must change too. Many forces are at work
when a system changes. The stakeholders look to
improve the dynamics of the way the system processes,
gathers and interacts with other systems and people.
Additionally stakeholders may take this as an opportunity
to fundamentally change the way the system’s core
processes affect the business.
If we compare the way in which product fulfillment, the
way goods are shipped and delivered, today vs. just five
years ago things are very different. In my house, we
check to see if something is available as “[Amazon]
Prime3” as a key-deciding factor in the purchase.
In the past changes to technology were mostly about
improving scale (faster, bigger, more responsive).
Today’s underlying technology breaks the “normal” way
of doing things at a dizzying speed that often has large
enterprises, which need to make significant investments,
putting technical change on hold for a few years. They
“I believe that no
matter the discipline,
no initiative will be
successful if it’s not
accepted and adopted
by all involved.”
-Erik Arnold, CIO at Path
are then caught in the dilemma of being accused of not “future proofing” or overspending on the latest technical
fad (remember how bots and avatars where going to do all of our online purchases for us?). There is even a
solution for that problem with Cloud based ecosystems starting to emerge.
Changes to the fundamental technology require an enterprise roadmap that merges business need with technical
Keeping change alive and on track is more difficult than simply stating the goal. It may seem counterintuitive but
change is not self-sustaining. A plan that is equal parts roadmap, process, technology and systems with well-
developed communication themes is necessary. It needs to be nurtured with active support and management
guidance. If that weren’t the case, incumbents would always be re-elected.
Take the time to do your journey planning first and completely. While there may be detours in the road, a well
thought out plan helps.
• Create a set of themed communications and have all of your plans driven from there
• From those themes identify five key metrics to judge success. If you cannot do that you will never know
how close you are to journey’s end
• Today’s employees use many modes of communication! Mirror them with websites, brown bag lunches,
FAQs and internal tweet-of-the-day
• Identify different stakeholder and ‘at-risk’ groups and develop tailored messages
o All stakeholders must have “a seat at the table.” Ensure you know who they are
Leaders must provide transparency and clear direction for change to succeed. As with an election the people
affected by change look for leaders to provide clarity of their place in the New Normal. Some thoughts:
• Be transparent
• Bad decisions can be reversed, slow decisions sow doubt
• Of perfection, there is no end
• Mean what you say, say what you mean
1 Wagner.Edu “Family political views”
2 PewResearch.org “67% - Most Say Presidential Debates Influence Their Vote”
3 See Amazon’s Prime service http://www.amazon.com/gp/prime
For more than 20 years LLBC has brought the principles of Constructive
Disruption to the world’s top brands. The results have been growth and
transformation supporting the needs of change agents and companies seeking
to grow. Our trademark whiteboard sessions and engaging style are the first
step in the discovery process.
Hands on technical expertise and thought leadership have delivered leading
edge technologies including social media, mobility and payment systems.
Domain and industry skills include digital strategy, ecommerce, Retail, Life
Sciences, Healthcare and Media/Entertainment.
Lawrence I Lerner
Direct: +1.630.248.0663 Email: Info@RevolutionaryInnovator.com Follow us on Twitter: @RevInnovator