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Page 101 D Key Guides to Successful Change Beyond the leader's role there are some key guides to or elements of successful change. The guides synthesize lessons learned from previous (successful and unsuccessful) changes in the private sector and from many investigations of the way leaders intuitively go about instituting change. The guides summarize these intuitions and enable leaders to explain their reasoning processes. The guides also provide a framework for thinking about how to effect change and a set of checkpoints for any leader initiating a change process within a system. These guides will be useful to the senior leadership as they undertake the necessary process of change within the U.S. Navy. The basic concept is that there must be overall change of an organization. Starting at the top is by far the best way to achieve major systemic change. Many people think that change “happens” from the top, when in fact it must be carefully “managed” from the top. Significant changes at any level should be considered desirable and should be sought even as overall organizational change is pursued. Overall organizational change very often starts in the trenches. That is, successes with change at a more local level, such as in the San Diego and Hampton Roads regions, are often motivations to accept larger changes in the system. Everyone and every level of a system has to create its own innovations and changes in the way it works and conducts its activities, rather than waiting for NOTE: For further reading on this subject, see Troxel, James P., ed. 1995. Government Works: Profiles of People Making a Difference, Miles River Press, Alexandria, Va., and Troxel, James P., ed. 1993. Business Cases from Around the World, Miles River Press, Alexandria, Va.
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Page 102 someone else to do it. The guides can be applied at each level of the organization, regardless of size. These guides form a basis for inculcating change as a common thread in all activities of the U.S. Navy, rather than responding only to the crises generated by reduced budgets. Guide 1Make a Compelling Case for Change Significant reductions in the budgets available for modernization of the Navy are a very real basis for change. The reasons for the budget reductions, and the negative impact on the Navy if changes are not made to deal with these reductions, must be communicated to the whole organization. All personnel must understand the dire consequences of continuing business as usual. In the reduced budget environment, weapons systems will not be upgraded, platforms and bases will not be maintained properly, and modernization of the forces with information systems, such as IT-21, and new platforms, such as DD-21 and JSF, will not materialize. The magnitude of the changes required to achieve the strategic objectives of the Navy within the expected budgets must be conveyed. For example, the fiscal reductions that are required in the infrastructure to fund the desired modernization goals of the Navy in a flat overall budget situation must be made clear. The CNO must identify a plausible, quantitative set of target reductions across the Navy that will achieve the strategic objectives. Once established, these targets must be communicated to the entire organization and a compelling case made that every element in the organization must do its part to make the required changes for the good of the Navy. Opportunities for change should be identified continuously throughout the organization as a way of stimulating innovation and motivation for improvements. Successful systems and best practices in the Navy and from elsewhere can be communicated continuously to stimulate considerations of a “change climate.” A continuing referral to the significant and continual change in the global business world is also a form of emphasizing the compelling need for continual change. The many and rapidly changing technological innovations that impact the Navy are another compelling case for embracing a continual need for creativity, innovation, and change. The organization can be restructured to foster a compelling and continuing need for change. It can be made relatively flat to reduce bureaucracy. It can use cross-hierarchical and cross-functional teams to stimulate enterprise-wide behavior. The organization can reduce formalism to a minimum by reducing policies and procedures. It can foster communication and cooperation by providing a comprehensive and easily accessible information network. The organization should encourage more participative decision making and should use matrix assignments for people to introduce innovation.
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Page 103 Guide 2Treat Each Situation Initially as Unique One of the major barriers in achieving change at all levels of an organization is the belief that once a process, organization, technology, or new system is developed, others in similar situations will know that they should use it. This belief has caused huge difficulties in transferring change in all organizations because it fails to recognize the uniqueness of each location. The details of the Southwest Region solution, as good as they may be, should not be considered “the” solution for the Hampton Roads region or vice versa. Local people must in most ways create and buy into their own change process and solutions. The differences in people and culture do not mean that ideas and technologies from the first situation will not be used. Good ideas and technologies will be drawn, when identified as needed, from previous solutions and the best practices of others. Guide 3Put All Change in a Context of Larger Purposes and Missions Even when a clearly stated purpose or mission is available, recognize that every purpose or mission must exist in a context of larger purposes or missions. Individuals make many minute decisions as time goes on in the change process, based on their unstated assumptions and the meanings associated with words and phrases. Focusing only on what may be considered a well-stated purpose leaves open for each individual the interpretation in his or her own way of the larger purposes that really ought to govern these minute decisions. The operating concept for expanding the purposes is to reexamine the assumptions that are hidden in each person's mind. Discussing the larger purposes lets everyone understand in a nonthreatening way the different thinking of others so that group acceptance occurs. It assures all that the real question is being addressed rather than accepting the problem as stated. It focuses first on doing the right things rather than on doing things right. Guide 4Develop a Vision of the Future System to Guide Today's Actions In effect, plan backwards from the future. The first part of implementing this guide is generating several alternative scenarios or options that satisfy the focus and larger purpose. Play with the scenarios, search for the operating dynamics, maximize the flow (remodel your mind, suspend judgment, use unusual media, seek the greatest value for the purposes, go back to zero, be absurd, and seek ways to eliminate the focus purposes by asking how to achieve the larger purposes). From these major alternatives, it is possible to select a future state solution that should be sought, in say, 5 years. Focusing on this future state identifies the changes and revisions needed today to achieve the target. At this point, it is
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Page 104 possible to determine if solutions are available elsewhere to save time and not “reinvent the wheel.” The consideration of many options will provide some degree of assurance that changes needed in the future will not be blocked by what is done today. Having options available also provides a basis for contingency planning as external conditions change. Being able to articulate the major alternative options from which the future solution target was selected is also very useful in making the recommendation for change to decision makers at all levels. The usual presentation to such decision makers puts them in the uncomfortable position of having to accept or reject the recommendation. Providing the options permits them to become part of the process of developing the solution and even to improve the recommendation and make it more workable. Guide 5Take a Systems Approach to the Change Process Every recommended change, however big it may be, is always part of a larger system. As indicated previously, the CNO should lead the change process for the whole Navy, the largest system entity. Doing so will then allow the subsystem organizations to place their changes in the context of the larger system. Being able to show how the change will fit into and impact the larger system will produce a much greater probability that the change will be accepted. Any recommendation should include specific enough systems detail to show that it is workable (i.e., the users that are affected, the interfaces required, and so on). Understanding this guide helps put changes in infrastructure into terms of specific system elements. The elements of the force operations can be related to force modernization and to the infrastructure to provide insight into the interactions of all, thus providing greater assurance that the complexities of the whole are appropriately considered and interrelated. Within this context, the committee views the Navy as an overall system, with fleet operations as the primary customer and shore installations and systems commands as major suppliers. Firmly establishing the real requirements of the fleet up front (i.e., what the customer is willing to pay for in the constrained budget environment) in any discussions of change will have a profound impact on what the shore installations and systems commands should be providing. The overall goal is to optimize the system. Guide 6Understand the Impact of Change on the People in the Organization Change impacts people in an organization in the following ways: possible loss of self-image, disruption of emotional involvement and role relationships, and negative impact on the employee's sense of importance. Even an employee
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Page 105 or person who suggests the idea for change recognizes there may be a negative impact on the role that he or she plays in the future system. Psychologists have studied the stressful effects of change on people in a wide variety of circumstances. They define a stress curve that people go through when change in their “normal” activities occurs. The progressive stress stages that must be recognized and managed by leaders include (1) initial turmoil, (2) recoil against the change, (3) depression, (4) mourning about the change, (5) reacting to the change, and (6) reconstitution of the person's mental state to the new conditions. The degree to which each element of the stress curve is managed will determine the depth and duration of the stress curve. Even those who want and suggest change go through this cycle, although they usually experience a lesser degree of and time in depression, for example. These guides to successful change provide a framework for minimizing the effects of each part of the stress curve. The guides focus on generating early buy-in to and acceptance of change rather than on overcoming resistance to change, an activity that has a negative connotation, takes much longer and has higher costs, and too often leaves a bitter residue in the minds of the people involved. The conventional approach to the development of a change tends to foster defensiveness (turmoil, recoil against change) rather than the openness and less stressful conditions needed. For example, starting a change effort by asking questions about what is wrong, whose fault it is, what measurements can be obtained to “show how bad things are,” and who should be blamed for the poor performance creates a negative attitude almost immediately. A far more positive reaction can be obtained with different questions. Consider, as an illustration, the reaction of people to questions such as, How would you do it if you started all over again? The questions raised by these guides provide a way to get people to be comfortable with a situation so that change can proceed effectively. They also encourage a culture of continuous change because they show that there is never only one answer to the way we do things. Change is always about people. Leveraging their core competencies in the organization is the crucial element in successful change. People are the critical factor in any specific system or subsystem (i.e., a ship, a submarine, or a weapon system) for it to operate effectively. Therefore, skilled sailors should spend a maximum of their time assigned to systems for which they were highly trained. The current practice of assigning new but highly trained sailors to mess duty aboard ship for extended periods creates a great deal of stress and adversely affects performance and reenlistment. Rather, a system perspective would strongly suggest that the galley (food delivery system) should be redesigned to require fewer people in order to deal with the shortage of younger personnel aboard ships.
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Page 106 Guide 7Involve All the Stakeholders This principle provides a basis for people with different interests and backgrounds who have a stake in the outcome to come together, work together, and change together. Involving all the stakeholders will provide a positive probing framework with different perspectives. This guide honors people and their ideas. A comprehensive process or methodology for engaging all of the stakeholders in the creation of a shared vision and in the implementation of an action plan is required to accomplish enduring change in any organization. A successful process is one in which the participants contribute to and buy into the products and actions created. The process itself must include a proper sequence of meetings, topics, and events that have been shown to produce results. The critical elements of one such successful process are described in the following sections. To have the maximum impact, the change process to be described should be initiated at the most senior leadership level of the organization and then repeated down through successive levels of leadership until the entire organization has been engaged. In the case of the Navy, the process should be initiated at the CNO level and should involve the fleet commanders, systems commands, and CNO staff. After this, fleet commanders should conduct similar processes with their fleet operators, the regional base commanders, the next level of systems commanders, and any other stakeholders critical to the organization. Following this, each command element, (e.g., each regional base commander) should conduct the process for his or her organization, carrying forward the work previously accomplished. Continuing this process down to the lowest level is the most efficient and lasting way to transform the overall organization. The first step in the change process is to conduct a conference involving all of the stakeholders for the purpose of planning for the subsequent meetings. This is often referred to as the design conference. The objective is to identify critical issues, to articulate what the key focus is, and to design a process that will deal with the focus issue. The next step in the process is for the stakeholders to create the vision of the future state discussed in detail in Guide 4. Following this would be the development of a set of strategic proposals or goals. These are creative proposals to move the organization in the new direction. The time for completing these major proposals may be many years, but significant segments with a scale of a few years should be identified. Within this shorter time frame, milestones can be set, measurements of progress can be made, and successes can be celebrated. For example, a strategic proposal might be to design all future ships with the minimum number of personnel on board. Sailors drive many of the support requirements aboard ship and heavily impact the size and cost of shore installations. This strategic proposal would have a major cost reduction impact on future operations. This proposal would trigger one or more tactical proposals for
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Page 107 accomplishing the goal such as increased use of automation, modification of onboard processes, and so on. The stakeholders must also deal with the issues, blocks, deterrents, irritants, and so forth, that are obstacles in the path of accomplishing the vision. These contradictions may be structures, procedures, or attitudes that when clearly stated indicate the steps to be taken for their resolution. The team must deal with the root causes of these contradictions, not the superficial problems that often receive the greatest attention. The lack of money, personnel, or other resources is never the root obstacle impeding the path to the vision. Many of the strategic proposals will address elimination of the obstacles lying in the path toward the vision. For example, although the Navy would like to change many processes, it currently cannot identify an accurate cost of these processes because the present accounting system does not provide sufficient details. A strategic proposal might be to obtain a new Navy-wide cost accounting system that would provide sufficient details to evaluate the cost of alternative processes. The strategic proposals will be too numerous for any organization to tackle simultaneously. A prioritization must therefore be made. The highest-priority proposals should be implemented first. Task forces involving a cross section of the organization are then formed and charged with the responsibility for developing charters and tactics to actualize the selected strategic proposals on behalf of the entire organization. The task forces should be charged with developing implementation calendars that identify the issues of where, when, and how key tactics will be implemented and by whom. The calendar should operate on a 90-day cycle, with major milestones identified at frequent intervals. The leadership team should review and approve the task force calendars. Progress reviews should be conducted every 30 days to keep pressure on producing results and to ensure that all members are contributing. Peer pressure during these reviews can be a powerful motivator. If a task force successfully completes its objectives in the 90-day period to the satisfaction of the leadership team, victory is declared and a celebration should ensue. The task force would then create a new tactical proposal to address one of the strategic issues identified earlier, and the cycle would be repeated. If the proposal is not completed, an extension may be granted or a new task force assigned. Progress toward the future state is accomplished in continuous improvement steps. Key quantitative metrics should be derived that will indicate the rate of progress. The quantitative goals to be accomplished over a period of time (e.g., annually) should be published and made highly visible to all members of the organization. Actual accomplishments as measured against the goals should be reported at frequent intervals so that the entire organization can judge progress. The leadership must demand results in a timely manner. Groups and individuals must be held accountable for moving the organization forward toward
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Page 108 the future state. Rewards for accomplishing goals and completing tasks should be used widely and frequently to create positive motivation for change. Experience has shown that large rewards are not necessary to motivate people. Small rewards and especially recognition carry great impact. Negative motivators in the form of punishment for failure to participate or cooperate are necessary but should be used sparingly and judiciously. The teams and the organization should celebrate all significant victories in their path toward the future state. Celebrations build confidence, a sense of accomplishment, and motivation for tackling and succeeding in subsequent proposals. The involvement of all stakeholders requires, in addition to the champions of change, facilitators or change agents using these guides to set up a basis for productive results from groups of people. However significant the champions of change may be, such skilled facilitators or change agents are necessary to obtain innovative results as well as successful change among all the smaller groups, task forces, and teams that the plan of action for change would set up. Guide 8Collect Only Essential Information System performance measures are essential in the operation, management, and change of all organizations, but the term “essential” requires clarification. Suggesting, for example, that complete information collection about and measurements of existing conditions must start any change effort is a conventional approach that almost always exceeds what is essential. In addition, it leads to people's defensiveness, caused by the probing of analysts. Trying to collect all the data is impossible. Asking the stakeholders and related people about the purpose of any information or measurement collection and then placing that purpose into a context of larger ends should help determine if the data are worth collecting. Collecting information and obtaining measurements are not cost-free. Following this guide will limit the amount to be collected and will make what is collected much more relevant. Guide 9Recognize That Change Is Never Finished Continuous improvement and betterment are necessary in making progress toward the target, maintaining the target when achieved, and using the target as the benchmark for future improvements. This guide even includes the scheduling of time to revise the future solution target. A critical aspect in this guide is to develop a change-resilient work force. People should look forward to change without the pressures of external forces. Any concept of having the “best” solutions now is the enemy of “better.” Any change now is really a choice of what is considered the better alternative from among the options. Recognizing that change is never finished encourages the need to rethink day-to-day activities
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Page 109 and to challenge (with these guides, not in a confrontational way) conventional wisdom about the purposes of doing things and the way needed things are done now. Guide 10Persevere in Seeking Change; It Takes a Long Time The necessary cultural change in the Navy can take 5 to 7 years or longer. Installation of smaller system changes may also take many months to 1 to 2 years. Persevere, persevere, persevere should be the motto. It is critical to seek continuous, evolutionaryrather than only revolutionarychanges. “Communicate” is a secondary mantra in this guide. Upward communication of needs and issues to higher levels of the Navy is often as important as the constant motivational and substantive messages to those below.
Representative terms from entire chapter: