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VelocityEHS’ James Mallon explains the 8 steps to transforming your organization and the 3 key characteristics you need to have to be successful.

Video Transcript

Hi, this is Jamie Mallon from Humantech (now VelocityEHS Ergonomics), a consultant and certified professional ergonomist here. Over the past few Whiteboards, I’ve been talking about the ergonomics maturity curve (I’ve put it up in the corner for your reference) as a way of thinking about how you might approach maturing your ergonomics process to be world-class. What we’re really undertaking here is the transformation of our organization.

John Kotter, a professor emeritus at Harvard Business School, put forth a model that he utilized using eight steps to transform organizations. I’ve listed them here, and I’m going to get into more detail on each of them in future whiteboards. But for now, I just wanted to get them on a piece of paper in front of you.

The first step is you need to establish urgency. I’ve underlined urgency because that’s an important word. The second is you have to form a powerful coalition of people who can help you push your agenda forward. The third step is you need to create a vision for what the future could be. And then you have to find, in the fourth step, a way to communicate that vision in a succinct and powerful way to the masses.

The fifth step is you need to empower others, or bring other people onto your team. The sixth step is you need to create, plan for and execute on short-term wins, because you need to gain some momentum, and short-term wins are the way to do that. Once you’ve got short-term wins, you need to consolidate those improvements, or take that power that you’ve been given, and go after even bigger institutional change. And finally, the eighth thing is you need to institutionalize the approach, standardize it, make it your way of doing business.

That’s John Kotter’s eight steps to transformational change, and what we’re really looking at here in future Whiteboards, is each individual one in more detail.

There is, however, a step zero, and I’m just going to erase the board here, and we’ll talk about this step zero. Step zero is really about taking an inventory of yourself, your own skills.

Jane Howell, who is a professor at the Ivey School of Business in London, Ontario, wrote an article talking about what makes a great champion, what makes a great change agent. She identified three key characteristics. The first was that they were credible, they knew what they were talking about, they had a track record of success, and they were credible about the topic they were talking about.

The second characteristic is that they had a good network of people, both inside their organization and outside their organization, who could help them push their change forward. And the third characteristic is that they were persistent. Persistence is a key characteristic because, if you’re going to engage in a change activity, you’re going to meet resistance, encounter barriers, and you’ll have to keep pushing yourself forward. There was another overarching characteristic of these change agents, these champions, and that was that they always framed things in a positive. They always looked at the opportunity rather than the threat. They identified the risks, but they also really identified and talked about the benefits.

So, what I wanted to do in preparation for those eight steps is take a little bit of time and think about yourself. Think about how you’re positioned to lead that change activity. Are you credible? Do you have a good network? Do you have that persistence to drive through the tough times? And can you really focus on the positive and always frame things in a positive light? As I mentioned, we’re going to go through the eight steps in more detail in future Whiteboards, and I’m hoping to do one every couple or three weeks to keep this process going for you and help you moving forward.

Until that time, I hope you’re doing well, and stay safe out there.