As it appeared in the Daily Nation on January 8th 2019
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu

In the world of business, we consider change as inevitable. We have witnessed many organizations go through different kinds of change. Some have changed their organizational structure, others have changed their product offering, geographical footing, while others have changed their overall strategic direction. Some of these changes have been premeditated while others have been prompted by unexpected changes in their internal and external environments. Both positive and negative change is evident in many organizations. Besides major changes affecting entire organizations, managers also make changes in how their departments run. We must therefore expect change but even more importantly, we must prepare our organizations adequately for positive change to happen.

Preparing for change is an ongoing process. Individuals, teams, and the organization as a whole must be ready for change. Readiness for change requires first a leadership that is change ready. For change to happen, leaders must take the crucial role of being the lead change agents. Leaders must not only create organizations ready for change but they must also help their organizations cope successfully as they go through the change process. Leaders must be at the centre of change.

Today, the business environment and the world at large is characterized by constant change. For example, change in technology is at the heart of today’s innovation and strategy and a key success factor for future competitiveness. In addition, there are many changes in the external environment. How do you at the personal level respond to change? How does your organisation respond to change? Before and during the change process, it is important for the lead change agents to communicate effectively about the changes. These agents must also support those that will be part of the change process.

Is your organization ready for change? Have you shaped the internal environment and especially prepared your team to be ready for change? Have you identified the strategies that will make positive change happen? Have you empowered teams to create the desired change? Are you showing the way? Are you holding the team to account? To make positive change happen, business leaders must paint a picture of how the desired future of their organizations looks like and inspire others towards making that future a reality through a change process.

In a 2012 Harvard Business review article, change guru Dr. John P. Kotter shares eight accelerators that make change happen. These are (1) create a sense of urgency around a single big opportunity (2) build and maintain a guiding coalition (3) formulate a strategic vision and develop change initiatives designed to capitalize on the big opportunity (4) communicate the vision and the strategy to create buy-in and attract a growing volunteer army (5) accelerate movement toward the vision and the opportunity by ensuring that the network removes barriers (6) celebrate visible, significant short-term wins (7) never let up, keep learning from experience, don’t declare victory too soon and (8) institutionalize strategic changes in the culture. These eight accelerators are tried and tested. According to Dr. Kotter the best companies focus and align their people’s energy and urgency around what calls the big opportunity. What is your biggest opportunity? Seize it – make positive change a reality this year!

Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy