My son, grandson and I recently had the opportunity to enjoy white water rafting on Colorado’s Poudre River. It was a great experience – one we enjoyed a great deal.

There were six of us in our raft, guided by a young man named Dakota. Clearly Dakota knew what he was doing as he almost effortlessly guided us down the rocky waters.

As we began our journey, Dakota spent about 10 minutes educating us on our upcoming experience, and the various commands he would use to tell us how to navigate. “Back two” means to back paddle twice. “Right forward three” tells the people on the right side of the raft to paddle three times forward while us on the left do nothing. It was clear that Dakota understood clearly that how action on one side of the raft would affect the motion of the entire raft, and how it would impact the actions of folks on the other side of the raft.

As we floated rapidly down the rock infested Poudre, it occurred to me that this was a perfect example of aligning leaders to execute transformational change.

  1. It’s essential that everyone understand the purpose and outcomes related to the transformation. In our case it was a safe and enjoyable rafting experience where we all stayed relatively dry. Dakota made this clear.
  2. Your leadership team needs to know your expectations of them. Clear and simple direction about how to navigate through the transformation is required. Of course, in a business setting, you will more than likely collaborate to determine the course of action.
  3. Your leadership team needs to understand how change in one area of the organization will impact work in other parts of the organization. In this way they can course correct as necessary as you proceed through the transformation.
  4. Involve everyone. When you proceed through an organizational transformation, your entire leadership team must have a role. There’s no one on the sidelines. This extends to your full organization. To reach a sustainable outcome, everyone is involved.

I am happy to report that our rafting experience was 100% successful and 200% fun! There were no overturned rafts, or any injuries. I was a little sore the next day from all the paddling. It was clearly worth it.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

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