Watch Your Step! Don’t Make These Mistakes During Transformational Change

Posted by Paula Alsher on Thu, Jul 30, 2015 @ 02:50 PM

The Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM) is a set of strategies, tactics, principles, and tools that can be applied to any change, including a Transformational one. However, in our over 30 years of Change Watch Your StepManagement Consulting experience, we’ve seen a lot of organizations invest a heap of time and money in quick fixes thinking they are going to drive Transformation.

But, as Change Management experts, we know a quick fix is never going to succeed when you are working toward Transformation. This type of change is by definition, 2nd Order Change. This means the organization will need to do different things in different ways.

In an attempt to save you a lot of wasted time and energy, here is a list of the most common pitfalls we’ve seen. Many of these mistakes are easy enough to make, so don’t let anyone seduce you into thinking your Transformational Change will be simple!


Top 10 Things That Won’t Drive Transformational Change in Your Organization


  1. A Powerful Vision Expressed Through Email
    You can’t talk your way to Transformational Change. No matter how compelling the vision or the story is, you won’t get Transformational Change without leaders who are consistently expressing, modeling and reinforcing the new behaviors. Reinforcement, not communication, is the power lever for driving Transformational Change.

  1. Training Programs
    Don’t expect to train your way to a new culture with a series of workshops. A leadership development program that promises to shift the culture is not enough. No behavior occurs in isolation, so building workshops around a new culture won’t work without a completely new reinforcement strategy in place.

  1. PowerPoint Presentations
    How many of you have spent millions of dollars on consultants who create 150 slide PowerPoint decks that show how the “five strategic pillars” integrate with the “seven work streams”? We’ve seen these slide decks dozens of times and we guarantee that they’re not going to drive Transformational Change.

  1. Town Hall Meetings
    We’ve all been there; Town Hall meetings where leaders tell their organization that they really mean it, and it’s all going to be different this time around. This is a recipe for increasing resistance and slowing down the Transformational Change. If leaders aren’t changing their own behavior in noticeable ways, their trust and credibility just diminish.

  1. End-to-End Process Maps
    You can only streamline processes so much; once you cut into the muscle of the organization, the organization’s effectiveness is damaged. This is why trying one more time to map the end-to-end process and eliminate ancillary people because you are now “Lean” won’t work.

  1. A Bold, New Logo
    You simply can’t market yourself to Transformational Change. Logos don’t make anyone’s behavior change, even if they are state of the art and completely new.

  1. Re-Organization
    Re-drawing the organization chart and shuffling executives around the various boxes may well be the most common pitfall we see. Structural solutions to cultural issues won’t drive the Transformational Change.

  2. Engagement Surveys
    Real engagement is driven by employees who are reinforced with both positive and negative consequences on a daily basis by their managers, based on the observation of behaviors.

  3. Consultants
    Surprising coming from a Change Management Consulting company, yes? But, we know consultants can’t drive Transformational Change for you. They can provide a framework (we believe the Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM) is the best around) and coaching, but only leaders can Sponsor actual Transformational Change.

  4. Downsizing
    Don’t promote Transformational Change that’s really just a cover-up for a downsizing strategy. If reduction in headcount is an essential requirement, it must be immediately followed by real 2nd order change. There is a small window of opportunity to change what success looks like in the organization.

The Right Step

So, how do you drive Transformational Change? Here are four fundamentals to follow. Ignore them and your Transformation is at peril. 

Fundamental 1: If You Don’t Change the Reinforcement, You Don’t Get the Transformation 

Fundamental 2:
You Can’t Get Transformation Without Sustained, Active Sponsorship

Fundamental 3: Sponsors Must Pay a Personal Cost for the Transformation

Fundamental 4: Anticipate the Most Resistance from those with the highest vested interest in things remaining the same. And watch out, because this group is probably your Sponsors! 

If Transformational Change is on your agenda, forget the PowerPoint decks, the training programs, and the herds of junior consultants roaming freely through your organization. Simply put, don’t be seduced by activity. When you are attempting to change the basic fabric of your organization, understand that prices must be paid at the individual and organizational levels. So, watch your step... and pay them.

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Topics: Transformational Change