A key attribute of a strong leader is the ability to successfully manage organizational change.  A leader must be able to determine the need for change, to paint a clear picture a desired future, and to assess & analyze the current state to determine what must be changed in order to move to the desired future state.

I have always been a a big fan of “the change formula” developed by Beckhard and Harris (1987) from some original work by Gelicher.

The formula D x V x F > R is intended to express, in mathematical terms, that three factors must be present for meaningful organizational change to take place.

Here’s the model (picture from George Ambler’s The Practice of Leadership blog)

The formula can be brought into play at any point in a change process to analyze  how things are going. When the formula is shared with all parties involved in  the change, it helps to illuminate what various parties need to do to make  progress. This can highlight several of the following problem areas:

— Staff are not experiencing dissatisfaction with the status  quo.

— The proposed end state has not been clearly communicated to  key people.

— The proposed end state is not desirable to the change  implementers.

— The tasks being given to those implementing the change are  too complicated, or ill-defined.

(source: Super-Business.net)

Much has been written about the formula, by many commentators.  The best description that I have seen comes from Dan McCarthy on his “Great Leadership” blog.  McCarthy explains :

Three factors must be present for meaningful organizational change to take place.

These factors are:

D = Dissatisfaction with the status quo

V = Vision of what is possible

F = First, concrete steps that can be taken towards the vision

R = If any of these factors are missing or weak, then you’re going to get resistance

The model has two very practical applications:

Before the change: When planning a major change, planning teams need to make sure all three elements are built into their plans.

During the change: Use it as trouble-shooting tool for figuring out why people are resisting the change.

Here is some additional information on the three change elements for supervisors and managers to use:

D = Dissatisfaction with the Present:

  • We must be clear why things need to change
  • We need to articulate why it is unacceptable and undesirable to conduct business in the same way
  • If we, and our people, are not dissatisfied with the present situation, then there is no motivation to change.
  • Managers and Supervisors need to provide your organizational cases for change here. You should include the perspectives of the three publics:
    • Shareholder Perspective (i.e. market share, revenue, cost of goods)
    • Customer Perspective (i.e. customer satisfaction, quality)
    •  Employee Perspective (i.e. employee satisfaction, turnover)

V = Vision of the Future:

  • It is critical the employees fully understand and can picture
    • our future as an organization and
    • their place in the new organization.
  •  Supervisors/Managers need to share their vision for the future organization:
    • Share where the organization is headed to remove/reduce dissatisfiers
    • Make sure you describe the future in a way that is very clear and easy for anyone in the organization to envision.

F = Practical First Steps:

  • Employees still need one important factor: their role.
  • Supervisors/managers need to make sure each employee understands what steps they need to take in order for this change to be successful:
    • they need to know what to do to prepare themselves for the change (i.e. skill development),
    • they need to know how they will be contributing to the successful implementation of changes (i.e. re-engineering, job changes).

How can you put this equation into use in your own organization ?

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