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successfully driving change part 2 – ownership

Most change projects fail, and only one in five is successful. That´s not new to us. The day-to-day business of organizations suffers under permanent change projects. Employees are under enormous pressure: 76 percent complain about the time pressure that projects cause in addition to day-to-day business. On the other hand, the top-management often complains about missing ownership & motivation to drive the change. So, who is right?

Well, we think both are right: If there is no motivation, you won´t see & get any ownership for change initiatives. Ownership on the other hand can motivate but will cause the opposite if you constantly overload your superheroes of the organization. In a recent episode we looked at Motivation. In this episode, we will put a spotlight on (right) Ownership to successfully run change initiatives.

Spotlight on: Ownership! In our episode about motivation, we stated that often more than +/- 80% of the workforce is not actively driving the change from the very first beginning. They are not motivated to change! But even if we look at the +/- 20% that might be willing to drive change there is sobering news:
In our experience just a few of the motivated or highly engaged people of an organization are able to sustainably anchor changes in the organization. Therefore let´s have a look at the “power of influence” of people. We think it is fair to say that in every single company – at least in the one´s that I know – you somehow have them all:

  1. People with high power of influence – these have many followers
  2. People with medium power of influence – these have some followers
  3. People with low power of influence – these have little to no followers

By overlaying both dimensions – the level of engagement/motivation & the power of influence – people in change programs can be stereotypically classified as follows:

Group 1 – The (Super-)Heroes
Those who are (highly) engaged and who have high power of influence in the organization.

Group 2 – The Faithful soldiers
Those who are (highly) engaged but with low power of influence in the organization.

Group 3 – The Poor Dogs
Those from almost to disengaged without having power of influence in the organization.

Group 4 – The Game Changers
Those who are almost engaged to not (yet) engaged but having high power of influence in the organization.

Group 5 – The Terrorists
Those who are (almost) disengaged with high power of influence in the organization.

So – what does this mean for (right) ownership for driving change in an organization? Here you go with four recommendations:

  1. Be aware of your people = know your Super Heroes, Game Changers & Terrorists! When it comes to assignments of the most important change initiatives, we strongly recommend to categorize you people according the matrix above prior to assignment.
  2. Set priorities & assign your Super Heroes to lead the (most important) change initiatives of your organization – but be careful: don´t over-assign – don´t overload your Super-Heroes! Otherwise, they will become demotivated.
  3. Get the Game Changers involved in these change initiatives as well (= team members of change projects). We call them game changers because they are usually still undecided at the beginning of the change, but can become the decisive ambassadors of the change by being involved in these projects.
  4. Get rid of Terrorists (assh…) – never assign “faithful soldiers” & “disengaged poor dogs” & never ever assign “Terrorists” to be on top of or to be team members of change initiatives. To underline the importance, watch out again the video from Simon Sinek on “Performance vs. Trust”:

If you don´t care about your people (Super Heroes, Game Changers & Terrorists)
& if you don´t care about your team lineup for change you won´t win the game of change – and most likely you will wonder about a demotivated team and another ineffective change campaign – Conclusion: Low or high level of Motivation & Ownership is not a given but very often the result of leadership quality in every organization!

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