Creating conditions for change – the first two steps to making change happen

Posted by Roxanne Chugg

Change Management


Step 1: Increase urgency

For those of us who like to focus on action it is very tempting to skip this first step and just move into making change happen.  According to close to 50% of the companies that fail to make needed change make their mistakes at the very beginning. 

To create a sense of urgency, you need to:

  • Create a sense of discomfort that initiates change and helps people to understand the need to overcome the routine of daily business
  • Invoke significant consequences for a failure to change i.e. if we don’t do this then this is what will happen
  • Discuss and be prepared to tackle the real issues
  • Examine the market and competitive realities
  • Identify and discuss crises, potential crises, or major opportunities
  • Bring external feedback into the organisation so that it’s understood at all levels i.e. a customer complaint
  • Share feedback about the organisation’s performance  e.g. the need to save a significant amount of money



Too many managers and not enough leaders.  All employees must feel a sense of urgency at the beginning of a transformation in order to motivate them to give extra effort, make needed sacrifices and to do things differently.  If you fail to effectively plan this step employees are likely to think “here we go another flavor of the month” and will fail to respond to the call for change.  Effective communication during this first step is critical.  An effective tool to use in this step is a Forcefield Analysis as it helps to understand the drivers and resisters to the change.  This can then inform your plan of attack and feed into your communication around the change.


 Jim Rohn quote


Step 2: Build coalitions

Put together a group with enough power to lead the change.

Get the group to work together as a team.

Work to:

  • Develop the vision of where you want and need to be
  • Communicating it to people at all levels
  • Eliminating the barriers and obstacles to change; dealing proactively with resistance to the change rather than ignoring it
  • Generating some quick wins so people can see the impact the change is having
  • Make decisions together

Putting together the right “coalition” to lead a change initiative is critical to its success. That coalition must have the right composition, a significant level of trust, and a shared objective.

The “coalition” should reflect:

  • Power:  Enough key players should be on board so that those left out cannot block progress
  • Expertise:  All relevant points of view should be represented so that informed and intelligent decisions can be made
  • Credibility:  The group should be seen and respected by peers so that the group’s pronouncements will be taken seriously by other employees
  • Leadership:  The group should have enough proven leaders to be able to drive the change process



  • Failing to create a sufficiently powerful coalition with expertise, credibility and proven leadership qualities to lead the change
  • Failure to coerce people into changing their behaviour in order to transform to a new way
  • Leaving the responsibility to lead the change up to one person
  • Not having the systems and processes in place to lock in the changes as they are made


Check out this brilliant youtube clip to demonstrate the value of team work!


Next week we’ll continue with steps 3 and 4!