Seven questions to ask before leading change

August 4, 2016

When a business does not achieve its expected results, it may be time to think about implementing change. In these situations, companies evaluate the statistics, the cash flow, listen to the customers and take a closer look at everything from the day to day operation of the business to its corporate culture. It is then very common to also ask when is the right time to make any ambitious changes.

Dan Cable, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School, has written an interesting article in which he considers the ideal time to change. Cable suggests that, prior to change, the following questions should be asked:

1 – How big is the change? He believes “the basis of change is small in human behavior, rather than grand organisational changes.”

2 – How might your workforce respond? This would be difficult to predict. The labour force is now more connected, informed, educated and cynical.

3 – How will you create joined-up change? It is necessary for differing perspectives of change to be aligned to avoid confusion and to be beneficial to the organisation.

4 – How will you lead change? Change can be conducted in different ways and ideas can come from different levels within the company, from the bottom up.

5 – How will you reframe change? The word “change” is not always a good one and leaders should be able to encourage their employees to face any difficulties that may arise.

6 – Which “change stories” will you share? According to Cable, successful “change stories” in other companies are always helpful to encourage and give hope in times of change.

7 – Are people central to your change strategy? If people work today, looking for a better tomorrow, organisations certainly function better.

As you can see, a leading figure is fundamental in the change process. Before thinking about change, the ideal is that companies are in a constant process of change, rather than seeing themselves forced into a process of change. Cable speaks of change as though business leaders are implementing change projects which have clearly defined conclusions. Today’s leaders are typically overseeing continuous change and success in organisations, and often leaders do not need to ask these questions. Cable is right when he speaks of change being the group activity often led from the bottom up – the leader’s role is to ensure that the culture of their organisations means constant change is embraced by all.