The Change Journey

More than ever, understanding the dynamics of transformational change is becoming table stakes for the survival of senior leaders.

Over the past several months, we have been working with healthcare organizations on a new reality that they are facing within the industry reconfiguration of healthcare reform, and with financial services firms that need to recreate their organizations to accommodate the new landscape they envision for the future. Almost without fail, we have seen a thematic struggle that they experience during transition from an old way of doing things to a new way of doing things. The changes required necessitate a shift across their entire business model, including changes to structure, systems, operations, services and technology.

The new state also requires fundamental shifts in mindset, organizing principles, behavior, and culture, as well as organizational changes, all designed to support the new direction. A critical mass of the organization must operate from new mindsets and behaviors for transformation to succeed and be sustained.

One of the things that makes this so difficult is that the future state is not an improved version of the past, but rather a new state; the change journey must begin without full clarity and definition of the final destination - the very definition of transformational change - with the new state emerging from visioning and trial and error and learnings. The change strategy approach employed must move well beyond traditional project or program management, or even change management tactics, and consider multiple inter-dependencies and the flexibility to adapt.

If this is true, the competitive advantage is the capability to navigate and respond quickly, since the pursuit of a specific tactical path is almost impossible, and is unknown by its very nature. What we seek is the collective intelligence of the organization to envision, create, test, and innovate until the best future becomes apparent in an environment that is multi-complex. Three areas seem to emerge:
  1. Content - This includes strategy, the "what", "who" and "how" of services provided, structure, systems, operations, technology, and business processes.
  2. Process - The plan to go from current state to future state; the ability to do, learn, and adjust to create sound solutions, best practice sharing, standard practices / procedures, documentation, and full realization of the desired state.
  3. People - The emotional reactions and engagement with the change - includes changes in mindset and behaviors required by the future state; understanding the impact of existing culture on the change; how to engage people in design and implementation; and how to ensure commitment and capacity to change to positively impact the culture.
We believe that understanding the new environment of transformational change and crafting appropriate strategies to meet its challenges will have a central role in determining tomorrow's winners and losers.

Thanks for inspiration from 
Anderson, Dean, and Linda Ackerman Anderson. Beyond Change Management: How to Achieve Breakthrough Results Through Conscious Change Leadership. San Francisco: Pfeiffer, 2010. Print.

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