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In Step 2 of James Mallon’s summary of John Koter’s book, “Leading Change”, Mallon explains how to create a guiding coalition or team to help drive change and some of the pitfalls to avoid.

Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Jamie Mallon, a certified professional ergonomist and consultant here at Humantech (now VelocityEHS Ergonomics). Over the last few months, we’ve done a series of “HT Whiteboards” on leading change, based on the book, Leading Change by John Kotter.

Previously, we’ve talked about the eight-step process that he employs to lead change in organizations. The first step was creating a sense of urgency for your change. The second is to create a guiding coalition. In the chapter, he talks about the different approaches to leading change, and one of them is to be on your own, the go-it-alone approach. That can work. It can. The key is that you’re extremely powerful in your organization, extremely knowledgeable and smart about the activity you’re trying to change, and a shrewd political player. You can build consensus and get people to support what you’re doing. All of those things also mean it’s going to take a lot of time, and in today’s world of change and interconnectedness, that doesn’t really work anymore.

So, he favors the task force approach, but he also talks about how you have to have the same characteristics within that group as this individual did.   You have to have enough power in the organization to get people to pay attention, you have to be very knowledgeable about the topic, and be an expert in the field. You also have to be credible and be a person who is known for getting things done. The other thing he talks about is, you need a mixture of leaders and managers. You can’t have just one, you need to have leaders and managers. I always say leaders are the person who are on the bow saying we’re going this way, and managers are the ones that figure out how to actually get there.  You have to have both.

You also have to create a sense of trust in that group. You have to have the right people, so you have to avoid some characteristics. And the characteristics that he points out are the most poisonous: people who have big egos, people who are reluctant players, or people who are snakes, who undermine the activity without realizing it (or perhaps they do realize it). He says that you have to get rid of them, you can’t have them. Once you have them, you can develop a sense of trust and therefore, get the team to work together and have very good teamwork as you go forward towards your end point.

And that’s the next step. You got to now say, which way are we going and how we’re going to get there. And that’s step three, where we create a vision and the strategic imperatives necessary to execute on that vision. I will cover that next time.

Until then, I’m Jamie Mallon. I look forward to talking to you soon, and I will see you in about three weeks. Bye, now.