Question: What's one of the first things many organizations do when they embark on transformational change?
Answer: A new vision and values statement.
But is this really a meaningful way to start the transformational change journey?
If you go out to the organization with a new vision and values statement but do nothing else differently, you will likely find it to be a counter-productive activity.
The only way that a mission, vision and values statement becomes meaningful is if it is used as a relevant decision-making tool for executives. For example, if executives are considering a course of action that is counter to the vision and values, and determine not to do it for that very reason-- then the vision and values statement has some teeth.
Otherwise, you are likely to just raise the level of resistance, and lower the level of trust. This does not bode well for successful transformational change!
What's much more meaningful is visible personal sacrifice on the part of executives. Otherwise the organization will quickly believe that the transformational change is for everyone but the executives who are actually leading the change. And remember when trust goes down, so does speed! Trust and speed are functional.
Executives must "be the change" on an everyday basis. That means they must express, model, and reinforce their personal commitment to the transformational change. There is little power in words on a page unless those words are lived out in the actions of the leaders themselves.
Executives must demonstrate that this change is different by the way that they implement the transformational change. This can be through their allocation of resources, methods of communication, and most importantly, how they are reinforcing their own direct reports.
If the transformational change isn't visible at the top, you can't expect it to magically appear lower in the organization.
If your executives aren't prepared to use those vision and values as a guiding document for their own decision-making, it's really best to not go there at all!
Take a look at the vision and values statement on the wall, or on that little card in your desk drawer. Do you see it being lived out, or is it just words on a page?