In today’s fast-paced business world, leaders know that their organization’s success is tightly linked to its ability to change again and again. Yet many change initiatives fail. One reason, the authors say, is that leaders often underestimate the impact of the politics and emotions of change. The authors suggest a five-step process for leading a major change initiative:
Step 1: Map the political landscape. Map the key external and internal, formal and informal stakeholders who will be affected by the change.
Step 2: Identify the key influencers within each stakeholder group. Once the key stakeholder groups are mapped, leaders should identify the key influencers within each group. Key influencers are those individuals who might be able to marshal resources, enroll others, build legitimacy and momentum, and provide ideas crucial to driving the change.
Step 3: Assess influencers’ receptiveness to change. People have different levels of receptiveness to a given change. Both supporters and skeptics must be engaged.
Step 4: Mobilize influential sponsors and promoters. Sponsors have access to financial and human resources. Promoters, on the other hand, can be extremely useful in igniting the enthusiasm that can draw fence-sitters into the process and propel change forward.
Step 5: Engage influential positive and negative skeptics. Skeptics can either make a change process more effective or turn a minor hurdle into a major roadblock. Positive skeptics may offer important perspectives and insights about the vulnerabilities of proposed changes. Influential negative skeptics are also important to work with.