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A Tried and True Model for Planning and Implementing
Change at Core

Great Circle Associates employs its signature model to enable implementation of strategies aimed at breaking from the status quo. The following seven imperatives are critical to the achievement of short term business-as-usual financial and operating objectives in parallel with the orderly but rapid transition to the desired end state. This, while mitigating for the potential of a temporary loss of business momentum and organizational focus. The approach has been refined over more than 25 years, incorporating the founder’s lessons learned, leading and managing the implementation of several change at core initiatives in a variety of business conditions and industries.

The model imperatives……

  1. Create an implementation plan that is based on an holistic analysis of change at core impact on key constituents. The planning for and implementation of strategic decisions aimed at breaking from the status quo should be grounded in a coordinated if not integrated understanding of the decisions’ current and future impact on customers, employees, shareholders, external influencers, strategic partners, and the local/global community(s) that organization operates in.

  2. Define short term metrics for success.  Make them highly accessible.  Measurement systems must be established to track progress in the short term, sometimes on a daily basis, in the early stages of enacting change at core. No measure of accomplishment is too small or too frequent – especially during the first 90 days of implementation. This is a defining period when organizational beliefs in the possibility and its achievability are forming, and internal resistance to change is typically greatest.

  3. Assign highest potential employees with dual responsibility for planning and executing change at core together with the achievement of business-as-usual financial and operating goals. The optimal organizational structure during transition is rooted in the leadership’s capacity to motivate high potential employees at all levels to “own” the achievement of seemingly contradictory objectives, especially in the early stages of implementation. This approach mitigates the risk of business interruption and creates a receptive environment for an efficient, if not rapid migration to the desired end state.

  4. Create incentives for the achievement of shorter term business-as-usual financial and operating objectives.  Care must be taken to allocate the necessary resources to support the business-as-usual environment while change at core is planned and implemented.  The seamless management of day-to-day operations, focusing on business continuity, should be recognized and rewarded.  The objective:  financial and operating performance while change at core initiatives are underway.

  5. Seed the development of “passionate champions” of change who embrace the “what” and the “why” of potentially destabilizing change. “Passionate champions” are trusted influencers providing momentum to the initiation and implementation of change at core. They are the employees up and down an organization who are most energized by the prospect of change at core – not for the sake of change, but for the good of the organization. These individuals distinguish themselves in the following manner:

    • They have a natural orientation to the realization of leading edge competitiveness;
    • They live and breathe continuous improvement in all aspects of their work;
    • They are not deterred by strategic and organizational ambiguity.

  6. Advance the presence of the leadership qualities that enable rapid and well executed change at core. Strategically considered, investment in the development of six unique competencies among those who have been entrusted with responsibility for implementing change at core can yield significant and immediate return. The benefits take the forms of speed and quality of execution, organizational agility, high levels of productivity and innovative approaches to problem solving. A wide circle of employees should be challenged to develop these qualities to maximize engagement in and the adoption of sustainable change at core:

    • A passion for putting the needs of the organization before one’s own personal agenda, including…..

    • The willingness to break from the status quo

    • The courage and resolve to never look back once hard decisions have been made and when the “going gets tough”

    • Laser focus on speed and quality of implementation

    • Unwavering commitment to the support of colleagues, especially during the most challenging – sometimes personally and professionally threatening -- aspects of implementation

    • Professional humility to course correct with the benefit of lessons learned and when the inevitable setbacks occur

  7. Create and continuously refine a robust, synchronized communications process.  Frequent, multi-directional formal and informal communications are crucial to building trust in the possibility and its achievability among key constituents.  Communications up, down and across an organization must reiterate the strategic context for change at core together with a well articulated, albeit developing vision of the end state.  They should celebrate progress against shorter term objectives including lessons learned, course corrections, and corresponding waypoints.
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