A question to our blog readers:

When you begin to transform your organization or your team, or yourself and your own life:

What is the very first step toward transformation through innovation?

In other words: What must you do first, to implement innovative change?

I get a lot of answers to this question. But the best answer comes from the ‘horse’s mouth’ itself, the global guru of change management, Harvard Business School Business Professor John Kotter, author of The Heart of Change (HBS 2002).

The very first step in transformation is: URGENCY! Develop a sense of urgency – within yourself, within your team, within your organization. Without that, you will lack the necessary energy and speed to move forward and pull people with you.

Unless you yourself believe that you MUST, NOW, TODAY, THIS MINUTE, change your life and transform what you are doing… it just may not happen or may drag on and you will lose enthusiasm. If your organization believes all is well, the important transformations will be shoved to the back burner by the daily press of operations. 

How do you create this urgency? Within yourself – by simply believing it. Within your team – by persuading other team members, perhaps by the scenario method: Painting possible scenarios that could happen, that would endanger the team. (“What could happen that might hurt us and our company?” Foreign exchange traders ask this question every hour, in examining their positions). For the organization: Persuade senior people that a crisis may loom. Some companies like Intel actually create such mini-crises, and of course Intel’s “only the paranoid survive” is well known.

Just for interest the other 7 steps of Kotter’s method are: Build the guiding team; Get the vision right; Communicate for buy-in; Empower action; Create short-term wins; Don’t let up; and Make change stick.