Author: Derek A. Murray | Director of Professional Services
If anything is guaranteed in life, it’s change. The world is changing every day. Technology is advancing; systems are shifting. For leaders, organizational change can be especially daunting because they are responsible for navigating a large group of people through what may seem to be an extremely narrow door. They need to make sure everyone is on the same page and on board with the impending shifts in responsibilities, systems, and/or organizational structure.
This is where change models come in. Change models are structured, strategic ways of approaching the change process within organizations. In this article, we look at two different models—the Leading People Through Change Model and the Conference Model. We consider their strengths and weaknesses and how leaders ought to function in each of them.
Leading People Through Change Model
Too often, when organizational change needs to happen, those in charge operate from a distance. Rather than including the people who the changes affect as part of the process, the leaders issue directives that the stakeholders have had no say in. Because of this, those being asked to change become resistant; they feel like the change is being done to them and not with them.
The Leading People Through Change Model (LPTCM), developed by Pat Zigarmi, Ph.D., and Judd Hoekstra, aims to address this common failing through nine strategies that involve stakeholders from the beginning.
LPTCM’s Nine Strategies¹
- Expand involvement and influence.
- Select and align the leadership team.
- Explain the business case for change.
- Envision the future.
- Experiment to ensure alignment.
- Enable and encourage.
- Execute and endorse.
- Embed and extend.
- Explore possibilities.
The first strategy—expand involvement and influence—is the heart of the model and is used throughout the change process. The idea is that organizational change will run most smoothly when the stakeholders have an influence on the change process. They shouldn’t feel like they’ve lost or surrendered their control. Involving stakeholders is key to overcoming resistance to change.
When implementing LPTCM, leaders must provide both direction and support throughout the change process. This requires clear, concise communication, because “in the absence of honest, passionate, and empathetic communication, people create their own information about the change, and rumors begin to serve as facts.”¹
The Conference Model
Similar to LPTCM, the Conference Model (CM) seeks to involve stakeholders in the change process—but on a much broader scale, not as personal, and at all levels of the organization. According to this model, organization-wide change can be realized by implementing a series of integrated walkthroughs and conferences.
CM’s Four Phases
- Build a solid foundation for change by creating scaffolding and support mechanisms.
- Utilize walkthroughs and conferences to engage the organization.
- Take action by making simple commitments and finding new ways of collaborating, as well as by designing new policies and procedures.
- Sustain the change by involving more people in the change process.
CM’s first phase is all about planning. Roles, goals, and boundaries are clearly defined during this phase. The planning team also gives direction to the change leadership team and provides resources.
The second phase is where the change starts to happen. CM uses conferences and walkthroughs as agents of change. Conferences consist of meetings with stakeholders from both inside and outside of the organization. Walkthroughs are interactive meetings that involve people who weren’t part of the conferences.
Phase three moves onto action—everything from implementing new ideas to following through on simple commitments that were made during phase two. Phase four, sustaining the change, is all about broadening the circle so that more and more people are engaged in the change process²—think of it as the snowball effect. The more people are involved, the bigger the snowball and its momentum grow, the more likely it is that other people will also get involved and that the change will take place and stick.
To successfully navigate through change using CM, the organization’s leaders must be willing to support CM’s principles and be fully engaged in the process.
LPTCM shines in the face of resistance to change. The model pinpoints the places where resistance tends to creep up and gives concrete reasons as to why people resist change—as well as strategies to combat and overcome resistance.
CM does well at moving a large number of people through change at a fairly rapid pace and engaging people at all levels of the organization.
LPTCM is slow and complicated. It is thorough in its strategies, but the model tends to micro-manage its way through a change in a way that can leave the organization wondering if a change will ever come to fruition.
CM, on the other hand, is too simplistic. It doesn’t offer a solution to resistance to change—and when you’re moving massive amounts of people, it’s almost inevitable that not everyone will get on board. Also, with so many people involved in bringing change, CM has a hard time building trust between leaders and stakeholders, which is key for overcoming resistance.
What Leaders Should Do
Regardless of what change model you follow, organizational change is a collaborative effort. You need the stakeholders to be onboard and engaged. Leaders must create an inspiring and empowering atmosphere that demonstrates their commitment to the change process, and they must cast a vision that excites stakeholders about what the change means for the organization. When all of those pieces are in place, an organizational change should be more motivating than daunting, and navigating the masses through that narrow door shouldn’t be overwhelming because they’ve already started lining up.
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¹ Blanchard, K. (2010). Leading at a higher level. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
²Axelrod, E. M., & Axelrod, R. H. (1998). The conference model: Engagement in action. Organization Development Journal, 16(4), 21. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/197984206?accountid=7374