Are you leading at the speed of change? If the rate of external change exceeds your rate of internal change, you’re going to be changed. Impermanence and disruptive change is a central life force. This never has, nor ever well, change. Constant, unpredictable, and sometimes very sudden change is as predictable and certain as death and taxes.

This month’s cover article in Harvard Business Review is How Good is Your Company at Change? The authors are Bain & Company; partners writing about their decade of studying organizational change efforts to track which ones worked, which ones didn’t, and why. They identified nine “elements of change power:”

Purpose — Creates a sense of belonging; guides decisions, and inspires action

Direction — Translates your purpose into a plan; clarifies where you are going and how to get there

Connection — Taps into the social side of change; creates networks of influencers and fans

Capacity — Defines the limits of change; allows you to absorb more change

Choreography — Helps you to be more dynamic; adjusts change priorities and sequences moves

Scaling — Creates a virtuous cycle; spreads innovation and amplifies impact

Development — Prepares you for growth; builds learning and change capability

Action — Builds momentum; fosters a can-do mindset and bias for change

Flexibility — Helps you stay in front of change; redefines how you work and even what work is

The article concludes with three “Steps to Take Now; 1. Get the facts; 2. Disrupt how you work; and 3. Mobilize your leaders.” We’ve found that last step to be especially vital in building an agile, highly adaptive culture. “If you want to disrupt old patterns, embrace a new approach, and improve critical change capabilities, you’ve got a lot to do: You’ll need to orchestrate a team effort, develop a shared ambition, and map an action plan.” Decades of our experience have shown the most effective approach to doing that is through a leadership team retreat.

The 19th-century British naturalist, Charles Darwin, revolutionized the study of biology with his theory of evolution based on natural selection. One of his key research findings was, “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

Further Reading/Resources