Thursday, March 8, 2012
I’ve always been a fan of Harvard Business Professor John Kotter’s change management work, especially Leading Change and Our Iceberg is Melting. The concept of “the iceberg” is an interesting one. In a fable about penguins, Mr. Kotter demonstrates the steps to successfully managing possibly catastrophic change – in this case, the penguin’s iceberg home is breaking up. The question every executive team should ask is “What is our iceberg?”
There is one group I can point to that is actively doing something about the iceberg around us – the pilot sites for the “Strategy Counts” Initiative of the Alliance for Children and Families (see Grant Recipients Advancing Strategy In The Alliance’s Multi-Year Pilot Project ). Strategy Counts strives to enhance the capacity of non-profit organizations to serve their communities by elevating the role of strategy within those organizations through grants to hire a full-time chief strategy officer, and to implement a transformational project.
I had the privilege of interviewing executives in this initiative and getting a first-hand look at the many strategic icebergs – and how organizations are planning to address them.
As I spoke with CEO’s who were in the process of recruiting a Chief Strategy Officer, there was a great amount of anticipation about how the new officer would provide leadership – not just by aligning strategic plans with operational functionality, but also by identifying new opportunities and by assisting their organization’s response to emerging trends. The initial hiring challenge was identifying an individual who would not only fit into these organizations’ current cultures, but someone who also would lead, embrace innovation, and introduce necessary changes to the organization in the future.
As one CEO stated, “We’re on a fast-moving train, we need to be continually assessing the environment we’re working in. We need someone to help us anticipate and be prepared, while responding to the day-to-day.”
Do you have the right person for this job within your organization? If you need an agent for change, but you see your staff clinging to that metaphoric iceberg, consider what you can do to coach or offer training for them. And in an ever changing health and human services industry, it is important to regularly ask yourself, what is your iceberg and how prepared are you for the change management you need to adapt (see Managing Change as a Leader’s Challenge )?
As our industry continues transforming, how will you motivate, lead, and inspire team members who are not convinced that some parts of your business have indeed melted away, requiring acquisition of new skills and capabilities? Remember, sometimes the iceberg is the very service that started an agency.
Senior Associate, OPEN MINDS
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