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Driving People-Powered Change

Four tips on how to create dynamic and lasting change.

Making change stick isn’t the easiest feat to accomplish.

In their new book, “Stragility: Excelling at Strategic Changes,” co-authors Ellen Auster and Lisa Hillenbrand explain why change is so hard to accomplish and offer tips on how to create dynamic and lasting change.

The key, they say, is in bringing your people into the mix and using their ideas and energy to propel change.

“Change today is constant. But sadly, in most organizational changes, much more attention is paid to the plan, costs and investments than to the people who have to make a change work,” said Auster, who has worked as an academic and a consultant for more than two decades, and Hillenbrand, former global marketing director for Procter & Gamble.

The two refer to this ability to create people-centered change as “stragility” (strategic, agile, people-powered).

“…It focuses on such key issues as sparking people’s passion, overcoming politics and preventing the change fatigue that can paralyze even the best people,” the authors said.

They offer four goals to shoot for when driving change:

Redefining Strategy to Win: Too often companies set a strategy and then never systematically reassess if it’s working. Auster and Hillenbrand explain how sometimes companies need to change course, like how Macy’s redefined its strategy after undergoing multiple mergers.

Building Support: Ignoring politics doesn’t strengthen change efforts. Rather, organizations need to navigate politics to build support, they say. Take KFC for instance. A new president took the reins when corporate and franchisee relations were in dire condition. He addressed the issue directly, which led to his success.

Fostering Ownership and Accountability: To ensure buy-in from workers, organizations need to engage people. It’s important to ask for ideas and listen to input, the authors say. Starbucks in the late 2000s asked its employees to help recreate the company’s vision at a time when it was struggling.

Creating Successful Change Again and Again: Prioritize initiatives and bundle concepts to avoid change fatigue and burnout. Steve Jobs used this approach in 1997 when he returned to the then nearly defunct Apple; he made the company focus on just four products, Auster and Lisa Hillenbrand say.

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