This past summer, we completed a project to restore the foundation of our 100-year-old barn. Over the century, the basement walls slowly shifted nearly six inches causing a bow in the wall that threatened the building’s stability. I hired Ben to solve the problem.

Ben’s vision was to move the wall back to its original position. He did this by first removing the soil that was causing the shift. Second, he installed massive jacks to push the wall. Third, he attached chains to the wood deck that made up the first floor, and pulled it little by little as the basement walls moved. Over a period of about four months, he succeeded in moving the basement walls and the first-floor deck to nearly its original position. His last step was to install large pilasters in the basement, and reinforce the floor system to hold the basement walls in place.

How does this relate to leading your major transformational change project? There are four things leaders must do to ensure success:
1. Remove obstacles to change. Do you have current processes or policies that conflict with the change you want to make? Just like the soil in front of the basement wall, you need to remove or change those things that conflict with your desired transformation. Don’t leave obstacles in the way that prevent your employees from help you drive greater value through change.
2. Increase awareness and desire for the change. With every successful change comes a communication program that talks about the change, its importance to the company, and the value to the employees. Just like Ben pushed the basement walls with his jacks, leaders must push out clear messages that help the organization understand the need for change, the value to the organization, and the benefits to the employees.
3. Encourage dialog from the team. Your successful change program will include opportunities for employees to engage to drive success. Ben pulled the barn’s floor system along to align with the shifting basement walls. When you engage employees, they will help drive the change, and the result will be aligned with your expectations as a leader as well as their expectations as employees.
4. Build sustainability. Successful change does not end with implementation. You must have policies, processes or measures in place to sustain “the new way.” Ben reinforced the realigned basement walls with additional bracing. You’ll reinforce your transformation by holding your team accountable for the new way of doing business, and then following up with appropriate measures.

Executives have hired me to help them craft and implement successful change programs. I have found that every successful change or transformation program has these four elements. The specifics might be different depending on the type of change or the nature of the organization. The results, though, are consistent. Organizations exceed their implementation targets because of this simple formula.

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