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Leading Change (Step 6) – Generate Short-Term Wins

In This Article

(Click the links below to move easily to sections of this article)
Maintaining Organizational Commitment and Momentum for Change
What is a Short-term Win
Why Are Short-Term Wins Necessary
How to Use Short-term Wins
Conclusion
Video: Generating Short-Term Wins
Quiz: Generating Short-Term Wins
Leading Change in the Workplace Article Series
Member Content: Additional Resources

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Maintaining Organizational Commitment and Momentum for Change

animated GIF of newton's cradle showing silver balls in motionIf you’ve ever been involved in a large-scale organizational change effort, you know how difficult implementing change can be.

Many change efforts begin with good intentions but produce minimal results.

As frustration, blame, and counter-blame spread in the aftermath of a failed organizational change effort, change stakeholders are left with the burning question: What happened?

Looking back, senior leadership can see that they followed the first five steps of John Kotter’s change model. It even seemed like many important change stakeholders were working to fulfill the change vision.

As they retrace their actions, senior leaders can rightfully point to many things that they did well:

  • They enthusiastically and forcefully identified the urgency of the needed change.
  • They created and empowered an effective guiding coalition.
  • They communicated a compelling change vision.

So, why do change efforts that start well still fall short in the long run?

There can be many reasons for poor outcomes from a large scale change effort. Many times, however, failure comes from the lack of any early success.

The truth is nothing dooms the momentum for a change initiative more than the lack of any evident and significant progress after a period of sustained effort. To sustain a change effort over the long term, senior leadership and the guiding coalition must generate short-term wins.

Without some early success, it is easy for stakeholders to believe that the change effort is only wishful thinking. 

Generating short-term wins is the sixth step of John Kotter’s, eight step Leading Change Model. This step addresses the important fact of leading change: your organization has to realize some benefits from your change effort to maintain stakeholder commitment.

Don't lose the momentum for change in your organization. Create some quick wins. Click To Tweet
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What is a Short-term Win

the word "what" written on a chalkboardA short-term win is an organizational improvement that you and your organization can implement in 6 to 18 months. 

An effective short-term win is not a gimmick. It is a significant organizational improvement.

A short-term win must meet three criteria:

  1. Its success must be unambiguous.
  2. It must be visible throughout the organization.
  3. It must be clearly related to the change effort.
In an organizational change effort, a short-term win must be undeniably successful, visible in the organization, and clearly related to the overall change effort. Click To Tweet
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Why Are Short-Term Wins Necessary

The word WHY written on a chalkboard
Why

Generating short-term wins is necessary to prevent the loss of momentum and keep your organization engaged.  

In reality, implementing major change takes time. You and your guiding coalition use short-term wins to eliminate any organizational discouragement with the slow pace of implement  major organizational changes. 

Short-term wins can also derail cynics and self interested resisters of change in your organization. This occurs because your short-term wins provide real evidence about the validity of your change vision.

It's a lot of work to make change happen. Keep your organization from getting discouraged by creating some quick wins. Click To Tweet
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How to Use Short-term Wins

the word "how" shown on a white backgroundTo use short-term wins, you and your guiding coalition identify feasible organizational efforts that meet all of the three criteria for an effective short-term win.  This could be a short organizational effort that results in significant cost savings, increased revenue, streamlined procedures, more effective use of existing technology, etc.

As with all of the other steps of the leading change model, your continuing engagement is critical. 

You will need to support the allocation of organizational resources to the short-term wins.  These organizational resources will include allocating effective managers and staff who are able to plan, organize, and implement the short-term wins effectively.  Structurally, these managers and staff will be aligned with your guiding coalition.

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Conclusion

the words "the end" are written on a chalk boardThough many major change efforts stall because of organizational discouragement with the slow pace of change, this result is not inevitable. 

Through thoughtful implementation of step six of John Kotter’s, Leading Change Model, you and your guiding coalition have a tool to sustain organizational commitment for the change vision. 

By implementing short-term wins that are clearly successful, visible throughout the organization, and clearly related to the change effort, you and your guiding coalition maintain the momentum for change.

Short-term wins are an important part of any large scale change effort.  They are like the rest areas where a family eats, refuels, and rests along its long journey across the country.

While these rest areas are not the ultimate destination, they are necessary if the family is to arrive at the desired location.  The same is true of short-term wins: they are not the fulfillment of your change vision, but without them it will be difficult for you to lead your organization on its long journey to change.

Create enthusiasm for change in your organization. Create some quick wins. Click To Tweet
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Video: Generating Short-Term Wins


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Quiz: Generating Short-Term Wins


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Leading Change in the Workplace Article Series


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Member Content: Additional Resources


Show your organization that your change vision is worth the effort. Create some quick wins. 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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