Organisational change can be defined as the process through which an organisation adapts its structure, processes, and/or culture in response to external or internal pressures.
Organisational change is a constant in today's business world. Many organisations have undergone tremendous changes in recent years due to global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic downturn. Hence, in the last few years, we've seen numerous organisations undergo huge changes, whether it's a merger or acquisition, downsizing or restructuring.
While some changes are driven by external factors, others are the result of internal decisions. But one thing is certain – Successful change requires the support of enablers.
For employees, change can be disruptive and stressful. For managers, it can be challenging to implement and manage effectively. And for organisations as a whole, change can be risky and costly.
According to HBR 70% of change programs fail to achieve their goals, largely due to employee resistance and lack of management support. It also mentions that when people are truly invested in change it is 30 percent more likely to stick. Despite universal recognition of the need to change and adapt frequently, businesses have, if anything, gotten worse at it. Some studies suggest that as many as 75% of change initiatives fail.
Despite the challenges, change is essential for businesses to stay competitive and relevant. Organisations that do not adapt to the ever-changing landscape will quickly become obsolete.
Leaders play a vital role in setting the tone for change within an organisation. Leveraging the John Kotter’s Eight Steps to Successful Change, Dr Lily developed the Real® Change framework which comprises 9 enablers for a successful change: “Perceived Gap” is among one of the key enablers for change
In terms of successful change, the perceived gap can be defined as realising the difference between the current state and the ideal state.
To successfully implement successful and real change, leaders must be able to effectively communicate the gap to employees to establish the desire and urgency for change. Failing which, employees may not be able to understand how the changes are relevant and significant to their specific context.
Leaders must be able to articulate the perceived gap and instil urgency in the situation and inspire employees to buy into the change initiative. Change requires the support of enablers, and with strong leadership, it can be successfully navigated.
Jeff Immelt served as GE's CEO and chairman for 16 years. Under his leadership, GE underwent a major transformation, including the sale of its financial businesses and the focus on becoming a more digital company. He revamped the company's approach, global presence, personnel, and culture. He led several bold changes that doubled industrial earnings, refashioned the portfolio, restored market dominance, increased a solid share position in important sectors, and quadrupled emerging market sales during his term. To communicate the gap to employees, Immelt held town hall meetings and gave speeches in which he outlined the need for change and GE's vision for the future. One of the key aspects of Jeff Immelt's transformation of General Electric was his focus on creating a sense of urgency within the company. He felt that it was important to explain the perceived gap between the current state and the ideal state of the organisation to his employees, to ensure a smooth change. He also implemented several initiatives to help employees adapt to the changes, such as training programs and mentorship opportunities. By doing so, he motivated them to close the gap and achieve the desired state.
In the volatile dynamics with which organisations operate today, change is inevitable. Therefore, the focus should not be on avoiding change, but rather on bringing about a smooth transition towards the new change by communicating the perceived gap and ensuring all parties of the change that it is for the best of all those involved.
Dr Lily’s Real® Change Framework is a helpful solution for leaders looking to implement real change within their organisation. It helps to create a sense of urgency and the need to change for leaders to mobilise employees towards bridging the perceived gap. This process is essential in today's fast-paced business environment, where organisations must be able to adapt and change quickly to survive.