When the Change Relay Race (see Change Challenge #1) happens, there is often a lack of clarity about the change as it gets communicated through the organization. This lack of clarity is the change challenge we are tackling this week.
Change CLARITY is critical. There are two dimensions to clarity, the success definition and alignment:
- Success Definition – a complete description of how you know that you are successful when you complete the change. For example, a good definition of success is “losing ten pounds, eating breakfast every morning and sleeping seven hours at night” – not “getting healthy.” Before you undertake any change, it’s important to define what is going to be different in the future, in terms that are descriptive and measurable.
- Alignment – the participants in the change must understand the change the same way you do and support the change. In order to get alignment, you need to understand who can impact your success. If you want to lose ten pounds and you live with someone who is regularly buying sweet snacks or junk food, your ability to achieve success will be threatened. He or she not only needs to know that you want to change, but must also agree to support the change.
The following image illustrates the relationship between these two dimensions of clarity:
- Aimless – the least clarity possible. There is little alignment and no specific success definition. This creates aimless change because no one knows what to do differently.
- Lost – there is lots of alignment around a vague future state. Since the definition of success isn’t clear, everyone makes up their own and consequently are lost in the process of living into the new change to achieve the desired results. This is how most people experience New Years Resolutions around six to eight weeks into the year!
- Vulnerable – when the success definitions exists but not everyone is aligned (they aren’t in agreement and supporting it) then your change success is vulnerable to resistance. This is when sabotage or minimal support can derail a change.
- Dedicated Direction – when the change success is defined specifically, and everyone is aligned then change clarity exists and everyone can move forward together to accomplish the change and achieve the benefits.
Overcome a lack of clarity by intentionally defining success and aligning everyone around that definition.
One of the crucial ways to confirm that your success definition is clear is to ask for feedback. Don’t make assumptions that everyone understands things the same way.
Next time you begin working on a change project, ask everyone involved for their definition of success. This will help you determine both clarity and alignment. It’s a simple step that often highlights impeding disaster because everyone has a different point of view. Creating Change Clarity is the first step to successful change!