Change is in Your Future

Organizational Agility:
Change is in Your Future

Can your organization remain exactly the same and continue to be successful?  We don’t know of any organization in any industry that has developed a sustainable “sweet spot” immune to changes in competition, regulations, economic conditions, or political climate. In the face of those challenges, organizations must develop what the Baldrige Excellence Framework refers to as “agility.”  This concept is so important to successful organizations that it is part of the one of the eleven core values.  “Agility requires a capacity for rapid change and for flexibility in operations.”  However, creating a culture that embraces change requires leadership.

At the recent Quest for Excellence® conference earlier this month, nearly every leader of current and previous Baldrige award recipients spoke about the need for change in pursuing performance excellence.  Many expressed how difficult that was for their workforce to accept.  David Ramsey, President and CEO of Charleston Area Medical Center said that their employees often said that CAMC wasn’t an acronym for the center’s name but stood for “change and more change.”  He continued, “Change is inevitable, organizations have to embrace it, and leaders have to lead it.”
In his acceptance speech of the 2016 Harry S. Hertz Leadership Award, John Heer (the only person to have led three organizations to the Baldrige Award), talked about the importance of culture to the Baldrige journey. “We’ve got a recognition now that culture is extremely important, but then we’ve also got the recognition that a lot of people really don’t know what culture is or how to start to change it.”  And once again, that change has to be led by the leaders.
One of three concepts added to the 2015-2016 Baldrige Excellence Framework was “change management.” Part of the explanation for its addition reads, “The roadblock many organizations face is that designing change is much easier than the dedication and commitment to implement, fully deploy, and sustain changes.”
In a recent article in McKinsey Quarterly, Tessa Basford and Bill Schaninger describe their observation of the dilemma leaders face in getting their employees to embrace change.  “Rather than adapt to the demands of an organizational transformation, employees are more likely to resist passively, undermining the effort and spreading that contagion throughout the organization.  Or they might simply decide that such a transformation isn’t worth the risk and look for their next opportunity elsewhere.”  In “Winning Hearts and Minds in the 21st Century,” they describe four building blocks leaders need to use for changing employees’ mindsets and behaviors.  These are:  role modeling, fostering understanding and conviction, developing talent and skills, and reinforcing with formal mechanisms.  Each of those building blocks has related requirements in the Baldrige Criteria, senior leaders personally serving as role models and fostering frank, two-way communication in Item 1.1; and workforce development, performance management, and reward and recognition in Item 5.2.
If you missed the Quest for Excellence® conference in Baltimore, it’s time for you to mark your calendar for one of the regional conferences in September in either Chicago or Dallas.  Hear from the 2015 Baldrige Award recipients how they successfully led their organizations through change to achieve benchmark levels of performance.
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