John Kotter in his book “Leading Change” calls creating a sense of urgency the first step in the change process. Many organizations fail in implementation stage as they have not created enough buy-in among the stakeholders for the need for change. The change could be initiated either to take advantage of an identified opportunity or to overcome a threat. Without urgency, the organization becomes complacent. As the people do not see the need to change, projects take unreasonable amount of time to complete, and at times could lose their relevance by the time they get to see the light of the day.
To motivate people to take immediate action, people need to see the need for change. Having an honest dialogue with all the stakeholders in the organization about the opportunities and issues that need to be addressed in the early stages provides initial understanding for the need to change and can provide solid foundation for it.
A SWOT analysis at this stage is vital to assess the current situation. It will answer the questions related to:
1. Current organizational performance.
2. Organization’s strengths and how it can capitalize on them.
3. Organization’s weakness and how it can improve.
4. The external and internal factors affect organization in future.
Since any change will impact individuals, it is important to consider how it will impact individuals and to engage both minds and the hearts of the people. Change could initiate an emotional response from the people and therefore must be addressed early on in the process.
It is equally important to understand why status quo is not an option, what will happen if the organization does not change and what will be the benefits of the change.
To create sense of urgency, the leaders need to paint an inspiring picture of how the future could look like. Communicate the benefits at all levels. Once sense of urgency is established, the organization can move on to next stages of the change.
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