“We have lost momentum!” These our words that chill the hearts of committed change leaders. They understand that momentum is critical to the success of a change program. It embodies an inherent force that propels teams into action and a positive energy that miraculously creates more momentum.
Every change program is constantly threatened by shifting priorities, organizational merry-go-rounds, economic conditions, resource constraints and mixed expectations. Change leaders have to nimbly ride the relentless waves of disruption and avoid the temptation to blame external influences as their initiative flounders. They understand that momentum is a commodity that can be sustained by careful management of six critical factors, as follows:
STRUCTURAL factors include making resources available and defining roles and responsibilities. All constituencies responsible for the change agenda need to be considered including; project teams, service providers, impacted stakeholders and executive management. Governance, roles and responsibilities and resource needs should be frequently assessed for effectiveness to sustain momentum.
PERFORMANCE factors concern monitoring and controlling progress. Achievement and evaluation needs to be emphasized and processes put in place to establish metrics, evaluate performance and provide feedback. A culture of continuous improvement and willingness to adjust should be cultivated to ensure things get done.
CULTURAL factors concern motivating individuals and teams to take aligned action. Cultural tendencies and biases need to be considered including; social-psychological mindsets, environmental factors, regional factors and industry predilections. Cultural constraints to success are best managed if their influence is well understood and accounted for within the change agenda and execution plan.
POLITICAL factors concern resolving conflict. Conflict caused by turf-battles, cultural differences, misaligned objectives, differing value systems, hierarchies and varied experiences needs to be dealt with in a way where opposition is challenged or incorporated. While there are many ways to deal with conflict, avoidance is unsustainable.
PERSONAL factors concern the leader himself/herself. Change begins and is sustained by a leader. All leaders periodically suffer self-doubt and loss of faith. This needs to be recognized and support systems put in place to revitalize and reengage the leader. Leaders have to be given the time and counseling to help them back in the saddle.
EXTERNAL factors concern those that are out of the leader’s control. These could include industry action, economic conditions, organizational shake-ups, shift in priorities, mergers, bankruptcies etc. External factors can overwhelm and overrun change programs. In these circumstances it is best to remain nimble and adapt and prepare to rise again from the ashes.
Keeping all these factors in mind can appear overwhelming. The good news is that, most times only 1-2 factors are in play, allowing the leader to focus and divert disruption.