Philanthropy Ohio is building its foundation for change

October 28, 2013 at 11:30 am Leave a comment

allen_suzanneIn our last conversation, I asked you to stay tuned to learn more about Philanthropy Ohio’s strategic platform, one that creates real impact and leads change going forward. Of course, every platform should be supported by a substantial foundation, and whether virtual or structural, the adage “form follows structure” rings true. Here, let me share the foundation I’ve adopted and have come to own, personally and professionally.

Classic columns backgroundPicture a literal platform supported by a series of columns—eight in all—of equal size and distance apart. On this platform is your heart’s desire, your wishes, your vision. Yours may include a profitable enterprise, a meaningful cause, a fabulous relationship. It’s yours to decide, but whatever you desire will require change.  Sure, you’ll achieve this vision (as any business consultant will tell you) by developing the right mission and the appropriate goals, but I contend that the foundation under it all is even more critical.

Enter John Kotter in 1995 and his groundbreaking research on leading change. He wrote, “Leaders who successfully transform businesses must do eight things right (and they must do them in the right order).”

Kotter and his Harvard team researched over 100 companies, including small and large organizations—from Ford and British Airways to Landmark Communications—as they each instituted some sort of major organizational change. Some succeeded, some failed, and Kotter observed that the change process itself was the determining factor. In fact, he’s shown in 30 years of research that 70% of all major change efforts in organizations fail because the leaders do not see change as a process…and they don’t see the process through.

His research yielded eight stages of change, which he contended must be successfully completed to achieve lasting, sustainable change. This is the foundation we are using as the basis for the changes we are making at Philanthropy Ohio.

Here are the eight steps, briefly:

Step 1: Create Urgency – Spend significant time and energy building urgency, before moving onto the next steps. Kotter writes that over 50% of the companies he researched failed in this first phase.

Step 2: Form a Powerful Coalition – Use strong leadership and visible support from key people within your organization. Managing change isn’t enough—you have to lead it. To lead change, you need to bring together a coalition, or team or group, of influential people whose power comes from a variety of sources, including job title, status, expertise and political importance.

Step 3: Create a Vision for Change – A clear vision can help everyone understand why you’re asking them to do something. When people see for themselves what you’re trying to achieve, then what you are asking them to do makes more sense.

Step 4: Communicate the Vision – Communicate the vision at every opportunity, concisely and with passion. And listen for it to be communicated back to you.

Step 5: Remove Obstacles – Encourage risks and empower people to try new approaches, to develop new ideas, and to provide leadership.

Step 6: Create Short-term Wins – Nothing motivates more than success. Create short-term targets—not just one long-term goal.

Step 7: Build on the Change – Kotter argues that many change projects fail because victory is declared too early. Real change runs deep. Quick wins are only the beginning of what needs to be done to achieve long-term change.

Step 8: Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture – To make any change sticks, it should become part of the core of your organization, it should become part of your culture.

As another of my favorite writers, Peter Drucker, said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

So this is the foundation we are building at Philanthropy Ohio. We understand and embrace the urgency. We are building a strong coalition of strong leaders in Ohio and we have a vision to be the leading voice and premier resource for philanthropy in Ohio. We look to you as we continue to build our foundation, securing our platform and becoming a stronger advocate for philanthropy.

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Entry filed under: Commentaries, Philanthropy Ohio News.

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