7 Simple Steps to Shattering Stagnation

Amanda Dreher - Friday, January 27, 2017


Is your team continually meeting status quo and upholding tried and true norms, but feeling stuck? It may be time to initiate change.

I know, I said the "C" word, but don't go running just yet. "Change" has gotten a bad reputation. Organizations and leaders alike often see change as a necessary evil and something to be avoided until it is forced by circumstance. When given the choice of initiating change and assuming the potential risks that come with it or maintaining a current familiar path, often the familiar will win out. However, take a look at today's cutting edge organizations -- the ones at the forefront of their industries. They are not hiding from change. In fact, they are embracing it! They are intentional about incorporating healthy change into their culture and are leveraging the innovation, energy and momentum to become leaders in their fields. They are shattering stagnation. 


In an article by Forbes, The World's Most Innovative Companies of 2016, among the top 100 were such recognizable names as Tesla, Under Armour, Amazon, Netflix and others. There are also many names you might be less familiar with such as Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Naver, Rakuten, AmerisourceBergen, and others. What do these companies all have in common? They embrace change. They innovate. They shatter stagnation.


Below is a simple seven step process to help your team initiate healthy change and shatter stagnation in your organization:


1. Analyze

Look carefully at challenges or stagnant places your team is facing. Leave your preconceived notions behind. Look at things with fresh eyes. Take this opportunity to learn -- about where you are currently, about where the industry is and about where you would like to go. Collect as much information as possible. This could be through conducting focus groups, taking surveys, or interviewing current and potential clients or customers. This might also be through attending industry trainings or conventions and studying current trends. This is your chance to learn about what is happening internally and externally.


2. Collaborate

Form a group of people who represent each team involved in the process or initiative being discussed. It is also good to represent differing viewpoints from various leadership levels. The more well rounded the input the better. This is the time to take all you learned in the "Analyze" step and combine it with experience and perspective. Create ideas and strategies to transform your learning into potential changes to implement.  Make this a safe environment to hear and explore all ideas.


3. Simplify

Take the ideas generated throughout the process thus far, particularly in the collaboration stage, and use them to formulate a streamlined, simplified, clear plan. You will have undoubtedly developed numerous possibilities by this point in the process. Now is the time to determine which ideas make the most sense for your team. In filtering through the options ask several questions such as: Which ideas fit your vision and mission? Which align with your current strategy? Which will take you where you are trying to go? Which fit your desired corporate culture? Which make sense in terms of time and money? By the end of this step you should have developed a clear streamlined plan.


4. Communicate

Once the new process is determined, it is important to clearly and consistently communicate the reason for the change, the goal of the change and the details of implementation. It is important to gain buy-in from all levels of the team. In order to do that, you must be clear and open with information. Remember, by this point you have likely been considering this change and the reasons for it for months. However, not everyone on your team has. Give them time to process. Help them understand their role. Give them opportunities to respond, give feedback and ask questions. 


5. Implement

This is the stage when the team involved will be putting into practice the items that till now have just been ideas and theories. It is bringing into practice the new ideas. This is where the"rubber meets the road," so to speak. This is also where many teams get stuck. Talking about a change is one thing, but acting on the change is another. Following the plan you so clearly communicated in the previous step, help the team make the necessary adjustments.
Once you have implemented the change, take time to learn and make adjustments as needed. You may notice that ideas on paper might need a little tweaking when put into action. This is an important step in the process. 


6. Standardize

Following any adjustments, begin to standardize the process and role it out on a larger scale. This is where the change becomes fully integrated into the day to day. This will likely take some time, but you can help your team by demonstrating your commitment to the new. As you lead by confidently stepping into the change, your team will follow. 


7. Celebrate

Remember to celebrate the dedication, hard work and accomplishments of the team. This step is easy to overlook, but don't. Your team needs to know that they are seen and appreciated. This step can take on numerous forms, depending on your corporate culture. Regardless of what it looks like, be sure to use this time to appreciate and inspire your team. 


Don't settle for status quo. Don't get stuck in the norm. Use these seven simple steps to shatter stagnation in your organization.


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