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  • Writer's pictureRiikka Tanner

From Vision to Execution – How Hard Can It Be?

Updated: Jul 30, 2018

Earlier this week I was listening to a Gartner webinar about change leadership and I actually learned something. I learned that when we communicate, about ten percent – as in one out of ten people will understand our communication from the first message. This reminded me of an old marketing fact that you need to send out your message seven times before it clicks and connects with the recipient.

Unsplash / Brendan Church

I did have a plan for this week that I would blog about business transformations and how and why there is such a deep divide between strategic vision and operational execution and most importantly, how do we bridge that gap? But that got me into thinking why there exists the gap in the first place? Before we can transition digital business from vision to value, I think we need to go couple of steps back.

Do the communication math

Last time, I wrote about competing agendas. If you don’t have alignment in the management team, how can you expect them to drive for one common agenda and especially communicate that agenda for the rest of the organization? When leaders don’t communicate the same thing, they cause only confusion.

It is easy math, if you have 7 people in your management team and it takes on average 7 times to get the message understood correctly, you need to nail it 49 times before you can even begin to think your message has hit the target. And that’s only for your management team. No wonder there’s a saying that strategy is only 5 % direction and 95 % communication.

Culture is an easy target

One noteworthy thing in that webinar presented was a graph presenting the biggest barriers to scale organizational change. The original question was “What do you think is your organization’s biggest barrier to move from the initial phases of digital business transformation to scale?” and the top three answers came out 46 % for culture, 23 % resources and 13 % talent.

But the presenters made quite a compelling case against this saying that organizational culture has become the number one culprit in the blame game. It is maybe too convenient to accuse organizational culture for failing business transformations when the change effort itself has not been so well thought off in the first place. Where we lack, is understanding how people change and how we can drive change in a sustainable way.

Change your mindset

Hand to your heart now, leaders. How often when someone challenges your change plans or asks a lot of questions you have thought that they are change resistors? Truth is that resistors don’t bother. The 3-5 % of people who have no desire and no intention to change, are not the ones asking questions and pointing out challenges. Too often we confuse challenges with resistance when instead we should take that as a sign of engagement! They are showing interest which means they are engaged in your initiative and offering you a perfect opportunity to reinforce your message.

Another change? Thanks, but no thanks

One other thing that doesn’t get voiced out so often anymore is change fatigue. We have sort of accepted that change is constant and omnipresent in our work environment and while this is true, there are also limits to how much one organization, one team or one person can take. This ties back to leadership.

There might be several simultaneous change initiatives going on at any given time so it’s up to managers and leaders to prioritize and value various activities. If the change requires time, learning new things and plain work, what will you take out from the already full plate of tasks?

Let’s do a quick recap, the top pitfalls for change programs are sending mixed messages and failing to make sure that at least your management team sings in tune, expecting turnkey adoption which means expecting change to take place immediately from go-live, ignoring individual change adoption pace, which relates tightly to the previous one and ignoring change fatigue and confusing challenges with resistance.

From first message to sustainable change

Oh, and by the way, do you know the tipping point of organizational change? You need to win 65 % of your organization’s hearts and minds to create sustainable change. Next time, we will dig a little deeper how you go and do just that.

With that I will wish you a great start for year 2018! New year, new beginnings, new blog posts to come about change leadership, driving business transformations, designing digital business and creating value both for your employees and customers. Can’t wait!

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