Change Requires Stakeholder Support – Professional Growth Systems

Change Requires Stakeholder Support

Taking a quick break from our series on Dann’s Principles of Leadership to reemphasize a key element in any leadership initiative: “ Be sure you have stakeholder support.”

Who has influence over a change?

In his brilliant book, Corporate LifeCycles, Ichak Adizes talks about the importance of a set of forces he calls CAPI to the success of any meaningful change effort in an organization. CAPI means:

  • C = Coalesced – def: brought together at the same time and sustained throughout
  • A = Authority – def: those who can say yes and/or no and can make it stick, i.e. not be overruled
  • P = Power – def: those whose cooperation you need to actually execute the change
  • I = Influence – def: those who have no authority or power but can create or destroy Authority or Power

The piece that change managers often miss is Influence.

Could the corporate lawyer create doubt in the mind of the one in Authority? How about the accountant? Could the union create opposition amongst your employees? Could the medical staff derail this? What about the potential impact of the press?

Improve your odds for success

Authority in this day and age is not enough. As an example, you can’t give an order for improved customer service and just expect it to happen. Threats don’t put a smile on the faces of your employees or do much to motivate positive change. You have to win their hearts and minds to get there.

If you want a well-executed organizational change that delivers on its potential benefit to the organization, then you need the enthusiastic support of those who have Power. Remember, a well-executed, sub-optimal solution will outperform a poorly executed optimal solution. It is all about the execution.

How do you get support?

To make sure you have stakeholder support as you pursue your change initiative:

  • Define who can influence the minds of the employees, whose cooperation you need for the initiative to go well. Look not only to groups, but also to individuals who are opinion leaders amongst employees
  • Define a strategy to secure and maintain the key influencers’ support. How does the proposed change align with what they see a important? How will the change impact them? What do they gain by the change being implemented well? The reasons can include being more productive, having fewer customers complaining, eliminating a backlog, benefits through a reward or profit sharing program, more ability to operate independently, etc
  • Communicate all these reasons to the employee group and determine whether it rings true. What are their questions, concerns, doubts, fears?
  • Address whatever comes up
  • Continue the process until you have their support
  • Time the physical change to the changing in hearts and minds of those affected rather than push the physical change and then try sell it
  • Outline the plan to accomplish all of this, hold individuals accountable for its execution and monitor its success

What’s been your experience?

Garnering stakeholder support is often an underestimated and overlooked step in leading an organization or change initiative. Though success can come without it, each step is painfully slow and burdensome, for you are carrying the whole load yourself. Learn who your key stakeholders are and what they value. Then gather them in your court to work toward improving the organization.

I am interested in hearing your experiences. Drop me an e-mail..