Inside the Minds of Change Leadership Gurus


The Gist

  • Change leadership. The book demystifies how change leadership can be effectively used for genuine business transformation.
  • Trust matters. Frei and Morriss argue that trust, not just speed, is pivotal for both employee and customer well-being.
  • Execution focus. It offers a week-based action plan, focusing on swift and accountable steps to drive business transformation.

In Frances Frei and Anne Morriss’ new book, “Move Fast and Fix Things,” they explore how contemporary change leadership can drive business transformation. In my conversations with CIOs, it’s abundantly clear that transformation — especially concerning customer experience — isn’t solely about technology.

So, what actions can business leaders take to achieve genuine business transformation and cultivate workplaces that employees desire? Frei and Morriss address these questions and more.

An image of the book, "Move Fast and Fix Things
No one has ever said to us, “I wish I had taken longer and done less.” — Anne Morriss

In many respects, “Move Fast and Fix Things” serves as a bridge between two other recent HBR books: “The Unicorn Within” by Linda Yates and “Breaking Through” by Sally Susman. Yates’ book concentrates on creating new businesses through experimentation and market validation, while Susman’s work explores how leaders can become exceptional communicators. What Frei and Morriss accomplish is revealing how the challenges of being a “change master” can be surmounted, including implementing significant cultural change. For this reason, the book is a must-read for CEOs, CMOs, and, naturally, CIOs.

Why Change Leadership?

Frei and Morriss kick off their book by stating the obvious: The starting point for most organizational change endeavors is identifying what needs fixing. They assert that savvy leaders recognize change leadership as a practice conducted by imperfect humans guiding other imperfect humans. This candid perspective is refreshing and sheds light on why, as Russell Ackoff described in “Creating the Corporate Future,” most of today’s problems “cannot be solved or answered within the prevailing worldview.”

Frei and Morriss simplify the concept by stating that any group of people inevitably forms an imperfect organization. This echoes former Honeywell CEO JJ Reiner, who noted that organizations are never perfect and can always improve.

With this in mind, Frei and Morriss encourage leaders to be impatient for change and take bold actions. The book’s primary goal is to provide insights on solving difficult problems and accelerating business transformation. In an era rife with complex, “wicked” problems, astute leaders prioritize resources to make challenges more manageable. Given the historical uncertainty we’re living through, being adept at driving change is crucial. Organizations that fail to adapt have little chance of succeeding.

Related Article: How Is AI Changing Digital Transformation?

Trust Us, It’s Fixable

Frei and Morriss challenge the notion of zero-sum game thinking, contending that it’s a misguided belief that organizations must choose between making progress and taking care of their people. Similar to Tiffani Bova in “The Experience Mindset,” they argue that leaders can simultaneously enhance the well-being of both customers and employees. Additionally, they assert that creating a disruptive future doesn’t have to come at the expense of leaving wreckage in its wake.

Additionally, Frei and Morriss propose that effective leaders tackle problems swiftly, while also being accountable for the well-being and success of their customers, employees and shareholders. These leaders embody the mantra of their book title: They move fast and fix things. To achieve this, they invest as much effort in cultivating trust as they do in accelerating pace. Speed, they argue, energizes an organization and clarifies its direction. Trust, on the other hand, persuades stakeholders to join the journey. Business leaders face a choice in determining which of four operational modes their organization will adopt:

  1. Inevitable decline.
  2. Reckless disruption.
  3. Responsible stewardship.
  4. Accelerating excellence.

Frei and Morriss state that their objective in writing the book was to create a change narrative that unleashes energy and imagination, converting this momentum into rapid impact. In essence, they aim to revitalize corporate metabolism. To achieve this, they outline how to break conventional patterns by moving quickly, while also caring for oneself, colleagues and stakeholders. They illustrate this approach through the metaphor of days of the week.

Related Article: Building a Culture of Organizational Change Acceptance

Change Management Monday: Identifying Roadblocks and Assembling Problem Solvers

Monday focuses on pinpointing an organization’s problems and surfacing roadblocks to progress. Initially, it may be unclear which problems change leadership should tackle. Therefore, the Monday objective is to foster curiosity and assemble a team of problem solvers. These individuals can assist leaders in identifying the most pressing issue to address. To accomplish this, leaders and their teams must gather information, necessitating skilled and empathetic listeners who are comfortable stepping outside their comfort zones.

These individuals should also be adept at identifying who is missing from the conversation. To illustrate, Honeywell established a quality circle focused on diversity and inclusion several years ago. The group’s initial step was to diversify its membership, which required participants to be comfortable enough to acknowledge when they lacked relevance or expertise.

Another critical task for Monday involves identifying what is hindering an organization and selecting potential problems to address. To effectively accomplish this, change leadership must gather data on their candidate issues. Armed with this data, they should formulate a business case. Subsequently, leaders must decide which business problem they aim to resolve. At this stage, it’s crucial to maintain a clear perspective and recognize indicators that the organization is stagnating.

Related Article: CIOs Step Up to the Role of Change Leader


Source link