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Conditions for Sustainable Change

With most Transformation initiatives people gradually revert back to their old habits of doing things.  Sustainable Change Management necessitates 4 key processes:

  • Chartering—defining the scope, rationale, and team for the change initiative.
  • Learning—testing and refining ideas before a full-blown execution of the initiative.
  • Mobilizing—using symbols and metaphors to engage people and gain their buy-in for the change program.
  • Realigning—redefining the roles and responsibilities and managing performance of the initiative and the people driving it.

These processes are critical to enable an Organizational Culture which encourages execution of lasting change.

In addition to these key processes, for the change to entrench into the organizational fabric, Leadership needs to put in place the environment necessary for the people to embrace and own the new processes, systems, and desired behaviors.

The 4 critical processes aid in creating the enabling conditions necessary for institutionalizing change in the organization.  These enabling conditions for sustainable Change take place in 3 settings:

  1. Structural Context
  2. Procedural Context
  3. Emotional Context

The environment for sustainable change must be put in place way before the actual execution of the Transformation initiative.  These enabling conditions encompass making changes to the organization’s structure, procedures, and sentiments / behaviors.

Let’s dive deeper into the 3 conditions critical to enable sustainable change in the institution.

Structural Context

The first element of the enabling environment requires the change leadership to work on reshaping the organizational structure.  The 4 key processes have a direct bearing on the organization’s structure.  Their effect pervades over:

  • The organization’s hierarchy and reporting lines.
  • Compensations, benefits, and rewards systems.
  • Monitoring and control systems.

The Structural Context significantly affects the way employees’ work and expend their time and their interest in certain types of projects.

The structural context is altered during the Realigning process of Transformation in the way new personnel practices are employed.  The Learning process informs the redefinition of linkage between the leadership and field staff.  The Mobilizing process informs the changes to be made in the roles and responsibilities of the management and front-line people—through storytelling and metaphors.  Whereas, the Chartering process helps instill a reformed, team-building culture in the organization.  Together, these changes in the structural context cascade down across the organization.

Procedural Context

The Procedural context pertains to a feeling of objectivity and authenticity of new processes and systems.  The Procedural environment involves the perception of people that their views are taken seriously and acted upon while designing and implementing a new initiative.

Procedural authenticity is critical in gaining commitment from the employees on initiatives that were not validated by them earlier.   It involves belief of the people that the change initiative integrates well with the philosophies of the organization and the way business should be done.  It makes the people feel heard, ensures trustworthiness of the change leadership through positive track records and effective decision making abilities, and alignment of the change initiative with the core values of the organization.

Interested in learning more about the other enabling conditions mandatory for institutionalizing change?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Conditions for Sustainable Change here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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