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Changing the way change is done in turbulent times

By Graham Wilson, Author of Leadership Laid Bare! and creator of ChangePro

I'm on a mission the transform the way organisations lead change, fancy joining me in the leadership revolution?

The reason for my mission is that I so many organisations getting it wrong. It still amazes me when I see an organisation spend a huge amount of money on a technical solution and then very little on the change piece... and then wonder why the project fails as the benefits aren't realised!

I also see so many organisations jumping to solution mode before thinking through what really needs to be done and exploring the real change opportunity. An example of this is that I see organisations tackling digital disruption and the digital opportunity by creating an old world digital function tacked on as another silo and then throw serious money on the wrong things using old world thinking and approaches.

I'm also saddened by seeing many Project Leaders overwhelmed, stressed, under massive pressure and struggling to operate in today's fast paced world.

I believe it doesn't have to be like this!

One of the reasons for overwhelm is that forward thinking organisations are waking up and realising that with all the disruption going on and the pace of change there is a real need to become much faster and a great deal more agile. They are realising that their structure and way of operating just aren't cutting it anymore. The old command and control approach is too slow and risky. It just isn't possible for top leaders to know all the answers. They are realising they need to implement huge amounts of change through projects ... and quickly! And they don't really know how to do it properly.

But not all is lost!

Enlightened organisations are also realising that they need to change the way they think, behave and take action. What worked before isn't cutting it anymore.

From a leadership point of view, more authenticity is required in order to build a high-trust culture, more collaboration and use of intellectual capital are required and the need to bring people together and create new ways of working is vital. They are realising that they need leaders who can operate using a new leadership manifesto. They need leaders to be able to inspire action and give meaning as teams journey through ambiguity. Some organisations are also realising they need to build quick response teams to grab opportunities and make change happen to stay competitive.

They are also needing resilient leaders who are comfortable at operating at pace, unleashing innovation, managing ambiguity and risk. Leaders who can make the right great decisions quickly, educate people to operate with a new mindset and use a new suite of tools, and leaders who can sustain momentum.

There is a universal need for organisations and senior leaders to realise that the way you implement strategy is through projects and change. Once they realise that they will also realise that they need leaders who can balance the 'here and now' tasks with the change and be super capable of doing both.

I believe that to be successful in the future organisations will also need to be really mature in their approach to delivering projects and change. They will need to have an agreed framework to guide thinking and enable a common language to develop. They need to build a flexible approach and be able to utilise a range of project and change methodologies and not take the one size fits all approach.

Agile, Lean, Six Sigma, Waterfall, Human Centred Design, PRINCE2 will all be used for different types of projects withing the organisation. These will be combined with a suitable change methodology based on the requirements such as ADKAR or AIM or Kotter's approach and others. And these will be guided by an overall Project and Change Framework.

To give you an idea of what this can look like, here's an example of a complete and comprehensive organisation wide framework ...


Imagine how much easier and quicker it would be all using the same language and understanding.

And here's an example of a crafted delivery stage of an initiative showing how Project Management and Change Management need to be combined as one in an agile context (ie a foggy situation where you know you need to change but the problem and solution are unknown):


Added to this organisations will need to have the right level of governance, adaptable and fit for the context. They will strive to keep things simple and understandable. One page plans (with supporting documents) will be the norm. Programme Offices will move from just control and bureaucracy to control and support and enablement.

We will see projects and change teams working together creating plans on a page in a well thought out sequence. The teams developing the solution will work in harmony with the team engaging and building emotional commitment to the solution. The business will understand the why, what and how and truly embrace change as a way of staying competitive.

And finally, successful organisations will have leaders who:

  • Create a high performance environment where success is inevitable
  • Awaken possibility in people to deliver extraordinary results
  • Operate with boldness, simplicity and speed
  • Are authentic and can leading without authority
  • Inspire action
  • Can influence cross functionally, network and collaborate
  • Truly understand the purpose, customer proposition, business model, vision and strategy of the business
  • Can unleash innovation
  • Help the organisation learn and develop
  • Build high-performance teams quickly
  • Manage ambiguity and risk
  • Educate, coach, mentor and develop people
  • Are resilient and can deliver at a sustained pace

To make this change happen Leadership Laid Bare and ChangePro are part of my response to enabling organisations to be really fit for today's world and grab the opportunities out there.

And to enable leaders to get their lives back and put a smile on their faces!

Every success


Graham Wilson is the UK’s #1 Leadership Trainer, author of Leadership Laid Bare! and founder of Successfactory™

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