In Parts I, II, III, and IV of our series on successfully managing change, we identified why an aligned coalition of leaders is the first step in achieving success; why these leaders must design and implement a plan to guide their efforts; how to overcome the types of resistance to change that hinder the majority of change initiatives; and how to unlock breakthrough thinking needed to achieve success.
The final critical success factor we must address is how to manage and engage the network of constituencies touched by the change you aim to enact.
Managing Change by Identifying Your Constituencies
According to the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at University of California-Berkeley — which consists of researchers, organizers, and policymakers who identify and eliminate the barriers to an inclusive, just, and sustainable society — “Developing a network that can mobilize a broad constituency and scale up to address intractable and enduring problems at every level provides the collaborative structure to realize [various] goals.”
So what does academia seem to realize that many in business — particularly those managing change — seem to overlook? The answer: You must enroll all groups — every constituency — in an organization toward a common mission of accomplishing the goals associated with your change initiative.
Two things in particular must be understood:
• All enterprises are constituted of a network of constituencies;
• Each constituency has its set of commitments and concerns.
Credibility Within Constituencies
In the case of one change initiative brought about by a merger between a media company based in Hong Kong and a purchaser in North America, the leadership coalition commissioned a grassroots team to launch a campaign to engage the workforce into the new corporate culture. Each member of this smaller team designed and executed a campaign that they knew would be most effective with the group they represented. In doing so, they were able to engage the hearts and minds of their peers and establish credibility with their constituencies.
By empowering these smaller sub-teams, various organizational groups, each with their own identities, had a seat at the table. And following the finalization of the acquisition, a truly new company with a new understanding of its mission has been formed — one where each constituency could sustain the positive momentum that went into the M&A.
While change isn’t easy, it’s achievable and lucrative, especially when entered into with these five critical success factors at your disposal.