In my work as a business advisor helping organizations execute, part of my process is to talk to everybody—well, if not actually everybody, I make sure to talk to many people at multiple levels in the organization. So I've talked to a lot of people at a lot of levels in a lot of organizations in a lot of industries.
What I have noticed is that many transformation efforts seem to hover at the top. They primarily include discussions of strategy with executives. But I have found that this high-level-only approach misses the most important part of a transformation.
Although you can lead a transformation from the top, you can't execute a transformation from the top.
And you can't even start a transformation if you fail to engage people at all levels in the beginning—because they hold the keys. And if they are not going forward, you are not going forward.
I, of course, talk to the executives leading the change, but in addition I talk to the leaders on their teams and others throughout the organization. I can't count how many times, though, while I am having confidential conversations with each of them, I am left thinking, “Do you people ever talk to each other?”
The executives and the people inside their organizations are often in violent agreement about how they feel, about what needs to be done, and about what role each of them should play in doing it. They are completely frustrated with the other ...