What a suricate named Lena can teach us about Leadership and Change Management?

Some weeks I was wondering in a book store looking for some piece of inspiration to read and it could be a romance, fiction or either a management or technical book. 

“That’s Not How We Do It Here! A Story about How Organizations Rise and …” book by Holger Rathgeber and John Kotter grabbed my attention and surprisingly I saw that was a story metamorphosing some “management” theory coming from someone I never had read before – I confess myself here!

Was a story containing a teaching from someone very renowned in the management organizations world. Moreover was a little book, something to take off in a afternoon. I bought it.

Today was the day I read it and how wonderful was to know Lena, Moro, Matt, Nadia and many others.

This story is about a group of suricates that needs to change the way they work together and how they deal with the ecosystem around them in order to survive. 

There are two facts. First the ecosystem will change in ways they know how to handle (seasons changing), in ways they never saw before (new predators, deceases). Second, their numbers will eventually increase exponentially.

I don’t want to enter in many details about the story because I really recommend you to read it, but want to go through some enlightenment the book gave me.

Kotters 8-step Change Management model

Leading Change in 8 steps

A new predator rises and the suricates don’t know how to face him.

1 – Create Urgency

Use the urge of unite the group around a new unpredictable problem. With this new real situation in hands, you will get focus, attention and an emotional connection.

2 – Form a powerful coalition

The leader give space to anyone to volunteer and form a group of passionate and engaged people to take the opportunity and lead an experimentation. Does not mean they will leave their role within the hierarchy though. Instead let them manage how to play this second job.

3 – Create a vision for future

Before they start actually doing anything, they will listen everyone above and below the command chain and within everyone peers.

4 – Communicate the vision

These small number of people will create initiatives that together with the sense of urgency, will attract people. It’s incredible how an empowered group of small people can do towards a compelling goal.

5 – Remove obstacles

Many times the ideas come from preexistence suggestions from someone that somehow didn’t see the day light for some reason. Pull out these ideas and remove the obstacles so they can be put in practice. Those will be more than happy to have them succeed.

6 – Create short-terms wins

Even small accomplishments that are shared, create organizational change and reinforce dynamism. Capture these moments and make sure they are known.

7 – Build on the change

Remember there is a sense or urgency, and the organization needs how to overcome the problem. Carry on creating initiatives and this time place them strategically – no more side experimentation.

8 – Anchor the change

After a while the achievements are integrated and added into the hierarchy. With real results, the volunteers want to share their knowledge so that can be allocate people and resources.

My take-away

Inspire action only with words lead to a short-term effect with no real benefits. In a world always changing we need managers to keep discipline in the organization so the business can keep running.

At same time we need a group of energetic and engaged people, empowered by management, to lead innovation in dealing with uncertainty so they can bring new insights into the management structure. And for that, nothing better that seizing the moment of urgency to capture attention from everyone.

Doing nothing is no option and leads to doom.