Leadership, transformation efforts in disruptive era: Is it challenging? – Business Standard

Leadership, transformation efforts in disruptive era: Is it challenging? – Business Standard

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Leadership in common parlance is contributing to making something extraordinary happen through social influence by enlisting the support of people for its accomplishment. This definition may be common for public as well as private sector, as revealed by examples of influential world leaders and successful entrepreneurs. In this context, Dr John P. Kotter’s eight step transformation process for leading change is relevant even now, which involves (i) Establish a sense of urgency (ii) Form a powerful guiding coalition (iii) Create a vision (iv) Communicate the vision (v) Empower others to act on the vision (vi) Plan for and create short term wins (vii) Consolidate improvements and produce more change and (viii) Institutionalize new approaches. It also mentions that for success of the transformational effort, right actions should be taken at each stage avoiding common pitfalls.

The transformation process goes through a considerable length of time with a series of phases. For an organization to have transformational change, all the steps highlighted by Kotter need to be sequentially followed. These changes comes under various banners say; total quality management, reengineering, right sizing, restructuring, cultural change etc. This transformational process is practicable across jurisdictions as also institutions. Several jurisdictions like India and China had undergone structural transformation at some point of time to achieve rapid growth. The multinational companies like Google, Apple etc had adopted transformational process at various stages of its growth to tap the market to get high returns.

There is general agreement with Kotter’s fundamental framework as also its sequence, which are imperative for sustainable growth and overcoming the saturation level of an organization. However, the framework needs to have a clear execution method or detailed implementation protocols for fostering the change in the present globalized world characterized, by complex management process, dramatic innovations and its diffusion, disruptive technology etc. Several factors may need to be incorporated in addition to the common pitfalls in the Kotter’s transformation process such as innovation, international markets, need for change analysis, disruptive technology, and implementation protocols.

The present Information Technology and industrialized world is characterized by innovations which are imitated/diffused quickly, though the same is protected by intellectual property rights.

Innovation emphasizes on introduction of new things which brings benefit. This may be in the areas of markets, production of goods and services, systems, processes, but also cultural behaviour, organizational structures and their management. Innovating organizations/companies without the requisite manufacturing and related capacities may die, even though they are the best at innovation. Also innovation secrets may be restricted to few staff (2 or 3) in the organization to prevent its diffusion. Though Kotter’s transformation process focus on change, it fails to explain the vagaries of innovation process.

The implementation protocols are lacking in the Kotter’s transformational process, which enables understanding the various levels of employees across the organization for customizing the change. This may include inter alia tools and templates for each stage of framework, checklist, ready reckoner guidelines for verification of vision statements, developing performance indicators, defining quantitative metrics for implementation cycles, goal execution tracking mechanism, implementation effectiveness, employee rewards for successful change implementation.

Successful change cannot occur unless there is genuine commitment for change with a sense of urgency or momentum, engagement of various stakeholder, openness in functioning with an unambiguous vision, clear and best communication efforts, strong leadership, and a well-executed and devoted plan. Kotter’s 8-step transformational change model recognizes each of these vital characteristics. However, the same needs to be customized according to present time by incorporating the modern theories of management, modern technology as also implementation protocols to derive the best results. This involves articulating connections between new behaviours and corporate success and creating leadership development and succession plans consistent with the new approach.

An innovative culture necessarily needs support from the top ie; from an efficient and farsighted leader. Increased rewards for sustaining an innovative environment may include financial compensation — for example, performance-related pay and gain-sharing — or non-monetary awards or recognition. Lack of resources are always a constraint in experimenting innovative ideas. Innovative leaders often rely on the capability to perceive things differently, variation/differences in terms of the basic story and ways of collective thought of an organization’s employees or members; which may ultimately improve its innovativeness. Innovative leaders are successful at deriving information from the outside, inter alia, by benchmarking, making site visits, and participating in professional networks. Innovative leaders draw ideas from people at all levels and are effective at experimenting and evaluating their experiments.

Surjith Karthikeyan serves as Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Finance. The views expressed are personal.

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January 25, 2022 at 01:59AM

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Dr. Sharon Lamm-Hartman