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“Accelerate” Themes from the HBR article by John P. Kotter

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Gary Mahood

on 16 May 2014

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Transcript of “Accelerate” Themes from the HBR article by John P. Kotter

“Perhaps the greatest challenge business leaders face today is how to stay competitive amid constant turbulence and disruption”

John P. Kotter

Ever increasing pace of change
More frequent discontinuities
Tension between needing to;
stay ahead of competition
Deliver this year’s results
Old ways of setting strategy are failing

A second operating system
Devoted to design and implementation of strategy
Agile, network structure
It’s own set of processes
Complements the traditional hierarchy
Continually assesses the business operating environment and responds to challenges with greater agility, speed and creativity

5 principles for the new operating system
Many change agents
Not just the few usual appointees
10% of managers and employees is possible and plenty
A want-to and get-to mindset
Energised by the desire to work with others towards a shared purpose
Head and Heart, not just head
Need to engage discretionary effort (do the network job as well as the hierarchy job)

What’s wrong with the old way of working?
Not good at handling rapid change
Inherently risk averse and resistant to change
People fear loss of power and stature as a result of change
Not effective when handling significant changes where the end-point not fully understood or communicated

Gary Mahood
Themes from the HBR article by John P. Kotter

The most agile innovative companies add a second operating system, built on a fluid network-like structure to continually formulate and implement strategy.
John P. Kotter

Much more leadership, not just more management
Ability to set vision, inspire action
Two systems, one organisation
Network and hierarchy must be inseparable
The strategy network meshes with the hierarchy as an equal
Critical to heighten awareness of organisation’s need for continual adjustment of strategy
Must focus on area of greatest opportunity
Can be used to galvanise the volunteer army

1. Create a sense of urgency around a single big opportunity
8 Accelerators
2. Build and Maintain a guiding coalition
This group is the core of the strategy network
Should represent each of the hierarchy’s departments / divisions and levels
Requires at least some outstanding leaders
There is no internal hierarchy in the guiding coalition – all members are equal

Strategic vision should be focused on taking advantage of the big opportunity
Should be emotionally appealing as well as strategically smart
Strategic vision should be drafted by the guiding coalition but reviewed by the executive committee of the organisation
Guiding coalition should develop a small number of initiatives tied to achieving the vision

3. Formulate a strategic vision and develop change initiatives to capitalise on the big opportunity
4. Communicate the vision and the strategy to create buy-in and attract a growing volunteer army
Communication in a vivid and memorable way is vital
Creativity and passion required to mobilise the volunteer army around the message
10% of total employee population is enough to launch the network

5. Accelerate movement toward the vision and the opportunity by ensuring that the network removes barriers
Members of the network actively search out issues that are preventing people from being effective in achieving the mission
Groups are autonomously formed within the network to tackle issues
Design and implementation of changes happens in the network and is instituted within the hierarchy

6. Celebrate visible, short term wins
Success breeds success
Celebrate successes that are clear, unambiguous and that obviously relate to the vision

If you take your foot off the gas – cultural and political resistance will arise
Keep adapting the strategy to fit with the shifting business realities
Continuous focus is required to keep the volunteer army engaged and working on network activities

7. Never let up.
Keep learning from experience.
Don’t declare victory too soon.
8. Institutionalise strategic changes in the culture
No strategic initiative is complete until it has been incorporated into day-to-day activities
This is best achieved by ensuring that the positive results are visible and contributing to a strategically better future
Full transcript