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Leading Change (Step 3) – Develop a Change Vision and Strategy

In This Article

(Click the links below to move easily to sections of this article)
Getting to a Change Vision and Strategy
What is a Change Vision and Strategy
How to Develop a Change Vision and Strategy
What Does a Successful Change Vision and Strategy Look Like
Conclusion
Video: Developing a Change Vision and Strategy
Quiz: How Well Do You Understand Change Vision and Strategy
Leading Change in the Workplace Article Series
Member Content: Additional Resources

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Getting to a Change Vision and Strategy

silhouette image of a man hiking toward a horizon in the distance

John Kotter’s Eight-Step Model for leading change remains a popular approach for giving structure to the difficult process of organizational change.

Senior leadership begins the change process by rallying the organization to act. It does this by creating a sense of urgency for a needed change. (Read More at Leading Change Step 1 – Create a Sense of Urgency.)

Second, senior leadership forms a credible guiding coalition and then delegates the authority to them to work across the organization. (Read More at Leading Change Step 2 – Create the Guiding Coalition.)

Once these first two steps are successfully implemented, the third step of the model  is to develop a change vision and strategy. 

Organizations sometimes rush through this step too quickly.  When done correctly, however, it requires time to get a change vision and strategy right.

To rally the organization to change, senior leadership has to create a change vision and strategy of an appealing future — an ideal future state. Click To Tweet

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What is a Change Vision and Strategy

the word "what" written on a chalkboardThe change vision and strategy give the organization a picture of what the future looks like after the change is implemented.  It tells organizational stakeholders why they should let go of the past, sacrifice and work hard in  the present, and follow senior leadership into the future. 

If done correctly, a change vision and strategy creates a sensible and appealing picture of the future that provides guidance for organizational decision-making. 

Sensible and appealing are important here!

Managers and employees especially will want to know that the proposed change is feasible and desirable.  If either is missing, they will not embrace the change. 

Think about it this way: It is not in the managers and employees best interests to make the necessary sacrifices now for a future that is worse than the present. This operates against human self-interest.

Senior leadership and the guiding coalition must develop a compelling message that will tell managers and employees that the future is a desirable place to go. When they do this, they have a much better chance of gaining the cooperation of others.

People are less likely to accept change when the leader's vision of the future looks undesirable! Click To Tweet

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How to Develop a Change Vision and Strategy

the word "how" shown on a white backgroundA critical responsibility for leadership is setting the direction for the organization for the future.

For this reason, senior leadership must retain some of the responsibility for creating a high-level description of the change vision and strategy.  Delegating all of the responsibility for this step to the guiding coalition is not desirable.

Often, it is best for a single senior leader or a small group of senior leaders to make a first draft. From there, the guiding coalition can refine the draft. 

An effective process uses data to produce the vision and strategy.  For example, company business data, market data, emerging business trends, forecasts, etc. are all relevant data to produce a sensible and appealing change vision and strategy.

Some patience is required for this step as different individuals will have various perspectives on the best route to reach the desirable future.  Many roads lead to a destination, but not all routes make sense! 

As smart and opinionated people work on developing a change vision and strategy, sufficient time should be allowed for the two steps forward and one step back group dynamic.

When a leader can't explain where everyone needs to go, people question why this person is leading them in the first place! Click To Tweet

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What Does a Successful Change Vision and Strategy Look Like

a road sign with the words "success ahead"So, what does a successful change vision and strategy look like?

Once completed,  a compelling change vision and strategy should be easy to communicate. In five minutes or less is ideal!

Complexity is not good here! No one wants calculus formulas when you are asking them to change what they are doing and how they are doing it. If employees and managers do not understand the desired future, the resulting organizational change initiatives will be unsuccessful. 

A successful change vision and strategy will identify the areas of change,  provide clear and realistic targets for measuring success, and appeal to the long-term interests of organizational stakeholders. It will look better than the present.

A good change is one that is better than the present way of doing things! Click To Tweet

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Conclusion

the words "the end" are written on a chalk boardSenior leadership, in conjunction with its guiding coalition, greatly enhances the chances of success for a change effort when it develops a sensible and appealing picture of the future. 

This sensible and appealing change vision and strategy provides the rationale for the necessary hard work and sacrifice to create that future. 

With this third step implemented, senior leadership and the guiding coalition can begin Step 4: Communicate the Change Vision.

A successful change vision and strategy identifies the areas of change, provides clear and realistic targets for measuring success, and appeals to the long-term interests of organizational stakeholders. Click To Tweet

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Video: Developing a Change Vision and Strategy


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Quiz: How Well Do You Understand Change Vision and Strategy


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Leading Change in the Workplace Article Series


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Member Content: Additional Resources


If you don't know where you want to go, any road will take you there. Click To Tweet
Written by Robert Tanner | Copyrighted Material | All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Robert Tanner, MBA

Welcome to my leadership blog. I'm the Founder & Principal Consultant of Business Consulting Solutions LLC, a certified practitioner of psychometric assessments, and a former Adjunct Professor of Management. As a leadership professional, I bring 20+ years of real world experience at all levels of management.

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