Step 1: Establishing a Sense of Urgency

The first step to transformation starts when leaders in an organization realize the urgent need for change. Please note the use of the word leaders and not managers in the previous sentence. John Kotter describes that managers’ mandate is to maintain the status quo, whereas change demands leaders.

In recent years the sudden rise in electricity prices, and Eskom’s shrinking reserve margin, demanded of industry to act to maintain operating costs. This called for leaders within industry to delve within their industry and introduce changes for the good of their companies. Many industries were severely impacted, others utilized the opportunity to transform their companies.

It is these events that call for leaders to have uncomfortable discussions with the aim of changing something for the good. It is essential for the leadership of a company to buy into the change. In his post “Leading change”, John Kotter refers to a CEO whose strategy was “to make the status quo seem more dangerous than launching into the unknown”. Kotter describes, “if the rate of urgency is not pumped up enough, the transformation process cannot succeed”.

It is not uncommon for transformational efforts to be met with resistance, for this reason leaders must buy in to the urgent need for change. Without leadership support, the status quo will strongarm the efforts for change. In our experience, Energy Leadership Programs’ (ELP) or project success is directly driven by the support the program or project receives from the client’s leadership.

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