Identifying the components of the change that will take place in the organization requires the leader to step back from the organization and really break it down. I am sure that you have heard someone at some point in your career as the leader express to you that you must look at the organization from 50,000 feet. That could not be truer in identifying the components of the change that will take place in your organization.
Daily, leaders deal with tactical or daily problems and opportunities. Many leaders of organizations do not believe that they have the time to push back and take the high altitude look at the business. This is the first failure of business leaders, the simple answer when faced with push back on this idea from a leader is, “Well if you don’t do it, who will?”
Most business owners want to make changes but have a hard time conceptualizing the process for the change to take place. Once the leader has identified that the changes they want will benefit their people and their customers, it can be hard to identify all the components that lead to making that change possible. Hence the 50,000-foot approach.
When looking at your business from 50k feet, the key is to look at the existing structure and determine what is keeping your people from being able to accomplish the change that needs to take place. In the first article, I mentioned that there were three main changes to consider and that most likely all three of them would change during the process. Identifying the components can be scary and hard to do. I think of it as jumping out of an airplane for the first time. Why on Earth would anyone want to jump out of a perfectly good plane? This is the way people, especially leaders, tend to view the changes that need to happen to achieve their goals. Normal people do not think about jumping out of the aircraft, but you as a leader of a business are not normal, you are in a very small percentage of risk taker. Business ownership can be riskier than the prior-mentioned jump. What can be interesting about it is that by owning the business, you have already jumped. Now the question is, how fast do you want to hit the ground?
Accepting the premise that the jump has already happened and accepting that the jump itself is the hardest part; it becomes much easier to see the business from a different perspective. This is vitally important to the cause of making the change for your people. Think of a train: at the front of the train is the engine pulling all the cars along and at the back is the caboose, just cruising along the back and applying brakes when needed. If one of the cars of the train is overloaded and it is placed in a spot in line where it hurts the ability for the train to operate at its desired speed, then ultimately that train car needs to either be unloaded to another or to move to other positions in the line.
This is exactly what looking at your business and identifying the components of your change will encompass. At the 50,000-foot level, it is clear to see the moving train. It is also easy to see that there may be an uneven distribution of weight, or work in this case. If the work is heavy on the front end, then the engine works harder to move the train, this could lead to the engine burning up. If the load is too heavy at the back of the train, then it is nearly impossible for the train to slow down when approaching new cities, or in business new opportunities for customers. The cars on the train are the people in your organization. Is their individual workload distributed properly? Are they put in the proper order of the operation? These conditions can only be seen from the 50,000-foot level. The conductor could never see this if they are shoveling coal into the engine.
Once the leader has put down the shovel and gotten to a level that shows them the whole train, then it is possible to identify the components of the change that will be taking place. Seeing the train after the changes is really the work of the conductor. It is also the conductor’s job to communicate those components of change to the team in order to accomplish the change that fits the vision.