The Architecture of Change – The 7 Key Phases of Change

Change is inevitable, but progress isn’t guaranteed! Industry, technology and information changes continuously, but this is no guarantee that your team will progress as a result of the change. Successful change needs to be deliberate and managed in order for the team to gain the full benefits. All change will require the leader to observe, guide and manage team knowledge and behaviour. Managing change is the reason leaders exist!
Gaining a working understanding of the seven phases of change will allow the leader confidence and in turn, can offer the team a sense of certainty during the process. Change rushed or unmanaged will not necessarily produce successful results, and the leader must orchestrate the process keeping timing in mind. The seven Phases of Change are: Research, Planning, Testing, Training, Implementation and Operation, Evaluation and Reward.  

      1.       Research:

A poor finish is often the result o a poor start. Twenty years of consulting has led me to discover the Number One Reason for Unsuccessful Change, WITHOUT FAIL, is the lack of consultation of role layers. Do Research! 

Research the root for Change needed. Research the impact if current methods are maintained. Research the impact the Change will bring. Research the People that will be affected by the change. Research the feeling and concerns of the Role Players. Research the ideal methods or strategy to implement Change. Research the Knowledge, skills and attitude to make the Change successful. Research the training and development required to guarantee positive change. Research timing and possible hiccups to Change.

Oh, I know you are already considering skipping this phase, but you do so at risk of failure! I also know why you want to skip this step. Twenty years of experience has given me the same answer to “why didn’t you research this?” The two main reasons for skipping this step are:

a.       Too costly

b.      Too time consuming

The time and cost to repair damage later will be far greater than the time and cost of doing a little research. Research will help you form your strategy and develop your plan for Change.  

      2.       Planning:
Research is not planning. Research is collecting relevant data and information. Planning is
sifting through the mountain of data you have collected and deciding on the best way forward. Do this in consultation with relevant role players. These role players could be: Investors, Management, Advertisers, Team Members, Employees, Customers, Community Members and Other People in the same industry.

What should you consider during the planning phase?

a.       Best Strategy to move forward

b.      Cost involved

c.       Time it will take to implement

d.      Engagement Strategy of Team Members

e.      Training and Development of relevant role players

f.        What outcomes are desired?

g.       What outcomes are not desired?

h.      What knowledge is required?

i.         What skills are required?

j.        What attitudes are beneficial?

k.       What form will training take?

l.         How will results be measured?

m.    How will communication take place during the change?

n.      How will role players be motivated and encouraged?

o.      How will implementation be monitored?

p.      What rewards are available for role players when change is successful

Remember to do this in consultation with the various role players. Involving them at the earliest possible stage will assist in getting their “buy-in” which will be crucial to your success.
3.       Testing

Testing ideas and concepts amongst your role players is crucial before you implement them permanently. Just because it is a good idea in your head, does not mean it will be a good idea in the minds of your team members.

Test the ideas and maybe even implement on a smaller scale as a trial run. You will be surprised at what great feedback a trial run can offer. This is also a great stage to encourage team member engagement and buy-in.

4.       Training

Training must focus on Knowledge, Skills (behaviour) and Attitude. Each role player must receive training before the Implementation and operation phase begins. Expect resistance and feedback during this phase. This is a really important phase to get buy-in and team member engagement. If you can’t make it work here, it won’t work during implementation!

5.       Implementation and Operation

Implementation is the time when the plan is rolled out and set in motion. Expect there to be hesitation and a few hiccups in this phase. Mistakes in this phase are not failure, but should be dealt with in a quick and decisive manner.

Please don’t punish people that make mistakes in the implementation phase as this will place your Change in a negative light. Don’t focus on behaviour and skills you do not want, rather focus on skills and behaviour you do want to see. It may be necessary to curb negative attitudes during implementation, but do it with positive reinforcement and encouragement.

Operation kicks in when the hype of the initial roll out phase dies down and people start to function on a competent unconscious level. During this phase, make sure that your plan has been implemented completely.

6.       Evaluation

Once Operation begins, the leader can evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the plan. Not everything will be implemented as originally planned, be open and flexible during this phase, evaluating the skills, behaviour and attitudes you observe. Praise beneficial efforts and correct deviations with kindness and encouragement.

7.       Reward

Praise and appreciation is a way of positively reinforcing beneficial behaviour and attitudes. It will also demonstrate to team members that they are appreciated and valued. Efforts and contributions celebrated and rewarded will encourage growth and reinforce loyalty. Consider rewarding effort at the various phases if the process is carried out over a long period of time, as this will induce focus and encourage engagement.

Change happens regardless of your involvement. Managing and guiding the process as a leader will help others be comfortable with change and create a sense of certainty in unsure times. As a leader you need to be courageous and decisive in the face of Change and remember to consult the various role players consistently. Don’t act like a dictator during the process. Act like a leader that has embraced Change and feels certain and confident of your teams abilities.

More Articles on change include:
1. 4 Common Traps that Prevent Change
2. Challenges of Change – 5 Key areas that will kill your efforts to bring change
3.Superpowers of the Superheroes for Change – 8 Traits for leaders of change

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