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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Creating A Sense of Urgency

Change management guru, John Kotter, has released his latest book, A Sense of Urgency, published by Harvard Business School Press.

Kotter has written about urgency before. Raising urgency is the first of his eight-steps for successful organizational change, a topic we talk about a lot here at Six Disciplines.

For a quick review, here's Kotters "Eight Steps To Transform Your Organization":

  1. Establish a Sense of Urgency
  2. Form a Powerful Guiding Coalition
  3. Create a Vision
  4. Communicate the Vision
  5. Empower Others to Act on the Vision
  6. Plan for and Create Short-Term Wins
  7. Consolidate Improvements and Produce Still More Change
  8. Create a New Culture.

In his latest book, Kotter reminds us that "70 percent of large scale initiatives in companies failed or were not fully launched. Only 10 percent of the cases achieved what they set out to do--and in some cases overshot their expectations."

"In those ten, a similar formula was used in virtually all instances, and they all began by creating a sufficiently high sense of urgency among enough people to set the stage for making a challenging leap into some new direction."

BOTTOMLINE: How do you create a heightened sense of urgency and then sustain it? Do it by appealing to individuals heads - and hearts. Within that heart-head strategy there seem to be four sets of tactics that work best:

  1. Use a variety of methods to help people better see the hazards and opportunities that are all around them--and incredibly, people don't often see them.
  2. Become an urgency-beacon in the way you behave each and every day. The vast majority of people do not.
  3. Always look to see if there is an opportunity in a crisis to help increase urgency.
  4. Confront those people who hate change and are remarkably skilled at fostering both complacency and false urgency.

(Hat tip to Todd at 800-CEO-Read)

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