The third step in the process of leading change involves forming a strategic vision. This vision is vital to allow you to demonstrate a strategic direction and to inspire those people who will be involved in the change. The vision must be clear, and must be understood and spark an interest in no more than five minutes. One trap to avoid is the risk of producing a long document that no one will really read.
Presenting the vision is equivalent to preparing a sales pitch. When salespeople approach their customers, they must resist the temptation to talk only about their products. Instead, they must focus on the customer’s expectations and the benefits that they expect to receive. Similarly, in order to “sell” change internally, you must first address the question of “why?” Simon Sinek has very successfully emphasised that “why?” must come before questions relating to both “how?” and “what?”
The answer to this question is a way of rephrasing the urgent needs that have previously been identified in a positive light. It also involves setting your priorities and making decisions in order to show strong and consistent lines of thought.
What impact do you hope to achieve? How will that benefit you? Why is it essential? How does it justify the energy that will need to be expended? In this way, you can retain only those objectives that are truly justifiable and thus which are capable of attracting belief and commitment.
The vision must be realistic. This means that, in addition to setting a goal, you must appreciate the current situation and depict the first steps required to achieve your vision.
I would summarise this by saying that the vision must describe a path: you define the goal that you want to achieve, recognise where you are, and start your journey by determining the first steps to follow. In reality, the shortest way from one point to another is very rarely a straight line.
Answering the question of “What?” for a collaborative environment means, on the one hand, conveying the vision of the new organisation and its impact on the management (and other stakeholders) and, on the other hand, specifying the new tools and processes that will need to be implemented.
It is important, especially for IT departments, to assess the need for organisational change: you cannot change people’s ways of working solely by deploying a technical solution. The quest for greater collaboration goes hand in hand with a new approach to management in order to involve employees, give them more autonomy, encourage knowledge sharing and facilitate team spirit and community involvement.
As for line of business managers, they must show an interest for tools which, in some cases at least, will not be worthwhile. Rather than allowing a choice to be made for them, without their involvement, they must actively recognise that the tools that are chosen will determine the scope of what can be achieved. Nevertheless, some solutions only make sense when they go hand-in-hand with a particular approach, and an awareness of the state of the art will allow leaders of change to avoid the pitfall of setting unrealistic goals while, above all, providing inspiration for their vision.