Turning a vision into reality
Tuesday, July 10, 2007/
Time to reinvent the business? There are seven steps from developing the vision to mapping the future. I know: I’m on the path myself.
After nearly three decades in my business I am faced with a reinvention of our current business. Making a library of 300 video titles an online business, one we are calling 7DTV.
Many people become disillusioned by change and if managers and business owners are not strong in driving the vision, the changes fizzle or become poorly implemented.
I have just revisited one of our early change programs, The Vision for Change, and am delighted to see how relevant the principles are for me right now. If you have a change to implement, make sure you have these seven steps:
Step 1: Develop the vision. A vision is a picture of how the organisation can be for the future. It needs to be described clearly and needs to have a driving value. For example, it might be to provide excellent customer service. For us we need to make this 7DTV process very easy to use and very accessible, and we have to make it a pleasure for people to deal with us so it is easy for them. So we need to describe this vision in clear language, and it needs to be inspiring.
Step 2: Identify the gap. So what is the gap between where we are now and where we will be when the vision is realised? We need to do a lot of research and come up with something “real”: specific, quantifiable and something we can precisely work towards. It needs to be something everyone can relate to.
Step 3: Set targets. Now develop the steps to make the change. We need to set realistic targets that we can all achieve and deadlines we can meet. We need some way or monitoring our progress and we have to keep communicating all the way. We have to keep defining what exactly our vision means, and ensure the steps and targets are clear – sales results, customer feedback, market share – and we need to discuss our progress towards the targets.
Step 4: Develop strategies. Devise some strategies to meet these targets and realise the vision. We need to turn the vision into an employee goal for each and everyone. All the way this means a lot of communication about the gap and the targets, we need to measure our progress and see it visually, we need ways to report to each other our progress (especially when the team operates in a virtual workspace as we do).
We need visuals and clear words, the graphics and website are critical here, and regular team meetings and training sessions to make sure everyone is going in the right direction. We need rewards for mini targets achieved along the way – and we need our clients to know we are going through this change and how we are going with it. And of course the best way is for personal feedback on excellent individual performance while implementing the change.
Step 5: Generate commitment. The best way to get staff to commit is to involve them in the change. Even though the vision may make a lot of sense, it won’t necessarily immediately get commitment form everyone. Many changes require a deep level of commitment and the most effective way to generate commitment is to hand over some ownership.
Posters, memos, emails and meetings will never achieve the same results as involvement and empowerment. This can mean work-based problem-solving sessions. It’s a great time to bring up challenges and problems and solve them together. This group decision-making on various aspects of the change will generate stronger commitment. And when management backs the suggestions of the team and implements them where possible it provides a very positive and powerful enthusiasm.
Step 6: Check alignment. Staff will easily become cynical when there is a misalignment between stated values and what actually happens. You need to ensure that the behaviours, procedures and systems are all in line with the vision and the strategies.
For example, if the change is about service, and you do a lot of training for the frontline staff to ensure the customers are getting the improved service, yet someone in accounts is not delivering that level of service, or maybe your process for handling orders and quotes is cumbersome, then the vision will not be implemented properly. As soon as you discover that something is out of kilter, change it. It can only take the misalignment of one element to affect the end result.
Step 7: Map the future. Review how the change progressed, celebrate the success and achievements, but keep looking to the future. Change is always ongoing, and new pressures and demands will mean refinements to the vision and consequently new targets must be set. If you have successfully created a culture for change the people in your organisation will themselves be looking at ways to improve, and will not struggle against changes for the future.
When your change involves new technology, multiple suppliers, client education and risk it can be very challenging. I hope to be writing more about 7DTV in the future.
By Eve Ash, psychologist and Managing Director, Seven Dimensions, and co- producer with Peter Quarry of Ash.Quarry productions The Vision for Change (A System of Change Series) www.7dimensions.com.au
Watch the video, The Vision for Change.
To read more Eve Ash blogs, click here.