Thursday, 10 November 2016

Change Reflections from the US Presidential Election

This isn't a political post.  Rather, I've been pondering some of the questions that change thinking and Donald Trump's victory ask of each other.  Why?  largely because commentators (with the exception of the irresistible Buchan Observer) have emphasised how the election has been about change: the result is a demand for change from those alienated from a political and liberal elite, and the campaign a change from past winning practice.  So, what's it got to do with change thinking?

Here's two perspectives to get us started.  Sure you can add more - please do.

First, for a change initiative to be successful, Prosci's ADKAR model suggests that the individuals involved must move through awareness, desire and knowledge and then have ability and reinforcement.  It maps awareness to the business need phase; desire and a degree of knowledge to the concept and design stage; knowledge and ability to implementation; and reinforcement to post-implementation.  A classic critique of Donald Trump's campaign has been that it has been strong on intent and weak on plan: we might say he's done the business need phase, and the concept element (but not design) of the next.  So, those energised by his campaign have awareness and desire, but little knowledge of what change will actually entail.  I'd say that their change journeys are yet far from clear - and I find that people want to understand that journey before they embark.  They want more than just a future state vision.  If that's right, then Donald Trump will have to lay out his plans and what they will actually involve for US citizens, or he'll risk hitting the buffers.  If committed support continues without the plans being clear, maybe we need to rethink the relative importance of desire and knowledge, and of laying out clear change journeys.

Second, Kotter's 8-Step process for leading change might seem a better model for Donald Trump:

  • Step 1: Create a sense of urgency - Check!
  • Step 3: Form strategic vision and initiatives - Check! (well, initiatives are named)
  • Step 4: Enlist a volunteer army - Check!
  • Step 5: Enable action by removing barriers - Check! (that's getting elected)
But Step 2 - where's the Guiding Coalition?  Either it's the priority of the next few weeks as key Republican leaders come on board, and is thus being done out of Kotter's sequence.  Or, it's close friends and family - in which case maybe we need to re-define coalition?

Either way, seems we may have a large-scale case study that will prompt us to re-think aspects of our favourite models.  Alternatively, the change will fail to achieve what it's promised, and we can go back to our models to explain.  Any other models / change insights to apply?

ADKAR is copyright PROSCI INC and the 8-Step Process is copyright Kotter International.


Lisbet Sherlock said...

Hi Nick. I think you are being quite generous here. I don't see much beyond Nancy Duarte's "what is, what could be, what is, what could be .... eternal bliss" which is GREAT for structuring a ppt presentation but not so compelling for an actual plan.

Nick Smith said...

Hi Lisbet, wouldn't disagree, just trying to give some space for later surprise.