During my MBA program, I remember reading the book, “Leading Change” by John P. Kotter. Every so often you come across a meaningful book where the philosophies stick with you. I can honestly say that John Kotter’s thoughts on the approach to change in an organization are still with me today. Although businesses have changed over the years and so have the markets where they do business, there are some key principles that still hold true when an organization faces internal change.
Back in 1996, I was applying Kotter’s principles to mergers, acquisitions, company downsizings and organizational shifts. Today, I see his 8-step process helpful as organizations make internal transformations toward social media communication. Here’s Kotter’s 8-step process applied to the social media transformation within an organization:
Establishing a sense of urgency: Like any change initiative, plunging into social media without a high sense of urgency, will likely fail. Employees have to know why it’s critical to implement a new internal social platform. With the proper explanation, employees will give extra effort to the change initiative.
Creating a guiding coalition: It’s imperative to have the head of the organization or senior leadership onboard and active supporters of the change initiative. These individuals have to show their commitment and rally together a coalition to guide the program (these are the change ambassadors).
Developing a vision and a strategy: Every effort needs a vision, which plays a key role in helping to produce the change. Vision, with supporting strategies, to reach goals will inspire the change and keep everyone aligned and focused on the desired results.
Communicating the change vision: It’s critical to communicate and then communicate some more. You can never over-communicate the importance of the change effort. It’s important to inform employees through many different communications vehicles such as email, town hall meetings, video, PPT presentations, and/or posters in lunch areas. Communications will reinforce the tremendous benefits of using an internal social media platform and illustrate how it leads to future growth of the organization.
Empowering employees for broad based action: Using the coalition to guide the social media change action and constant communication will result in a large number of employees (on the management level) embracing the new vision. These managers must feel empowered to join the change initiative and to propel it forward to the rest of the organization.
Generating short term wins: Setting achievable short term goals is a great way to get the organization excited and feeling more empowered over the change action. It’s important to have benchmark measurement, whether it’s measuring the number of blogs, wikis, comments or increased work productivity, as a result of the newly instituted social media platform.
Consolidating gains and producing more change: It’s important not to claim victory too early. Take all of your gains and continue to enforce the prior steps in the process by keeping urgency high, communications strong and short term winning a constant!
Anchoring the new approaches in the culture: When the change action is rooted firmly in the culture it becomes the new social norm. The behaviors and attitudes of the culture will clearly exhibit the adopted change. The change will be engrained in the organization so that future generations of managers and leaders will take it upon themselves to personify the new social media approach.
Kotter’s 8-steps are useful and can guide a social media change initiative. Can you think of any steps that are missing or is there anything that you would do to firmly root social media into an organization so that it becomes a part of the company’s culture?