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Breakthrough Process 2 – Preparing Decision-Makers, Managers and Stake-holders for Change

Step two of the Breakthrough Process focuses on preparing decision makers, managers, and stakeholders for change. It’s an essential phase in designing your intervention, structuring your approach, and explaining the process to the organization. The process ensures that everyone in the organization, from top to bottom, understands that change is imminent. Key actions include conducting readiness workshops, modeling the change for managers and leaders, engaging top management as sponsors, and creating a diagonal slice group for insights and feedback. Dealing with resistance involves acknowledging it as a contribution and enrolling stakeholders strategically based on their support levels. This phase becomes particularly crucial for transformative and breakthrough changes that require strong commitment and courage.


Step two. In the breakthrough process, preparing decision makers, managers and stakeholders for change. Very, very important step, as you know. Remember, this whole process is a way to design your intervention. When you’re thinking about what to do, we use it to structure what we’re going to do when it’s a way to propose we build this into our proposals, actually. And third, it’s a way to explain what you’re doing to people inside the organization over and over and over again. So it’s very, very helpful in this way. Remember, the first phase in the breakthrough process is preparing the organization. And the first thing you had to do was to make sure that your proposal for change was linked with strategic business objectives of the organization. This second step, which is absolutely crucial, is to prepare those decision makers and those managers and those other people for the change process, because what’s going to happen is if they’re not ready, you’ve got major problems in fact, the 3 or 4 failures that I’ve had are my fault because I didn’t do a good enough job at this level now. How do you do this? Well, the first thing is you’ve got to make sure that everybody understands that everyone in the organization, everyone in the organization, from top to bottom, is going to experience change. Sometimes people at the bottom don’t believe that.

A lot of times, managers and executives have a lot of financial things at stake. Their anxiety is pretty high. Secondly, the leaders and managers can get very anxious about a lot of things looking like failures. How come this is not working? Why are we bringing in outside consultants? There are so many things that they have to be anxious about in a change process. And a key point is the middle of the organization actually has the ability to sabotage, to make things happen or to not, you know, get behind it when the middle is behind it. It works. If they’re not behind it, you’ve got some major problems. So you not only have to get the executive team on board, you need to get especially the middle people on board. And we’ll talk about that a little bit later, my mentor Herb Shepherd said. In the way to do this is light, many fires, do lots of things over and over and over again to help these people understand what you’re doing and get on board. Now, this is what we usually do. We quite often do what we call a get ready for change workshop or experience for all leaders and managers led by internal people, usually the OE team, frontline people. It’s so powerful to have these frontline people, as you’ll see in the next step, prepare to go in and sit in front of executives, or stand in front of executives with a magic marker in their hand and lead them through the same workshop that the rest of the organization is going to get.

How can we get ready for change? The managers and leaders need to model doing that themselves first. Secondly, this project that you’re doing, this initiative needs to be seen as being sponsored by top management because, you know, managers need to look at this and go, okay, I guess I need to be at this. I need to pay more attention than, I guess, I can’t hunker down and let this go by. You need to create a diagonal slice group of managers that will be sort of like your consultants. And I like to put a lot of resistors on here. Maybe a third of the group, people that don’t really believe this is worth doing or something like that, because this is the group that I go to and say, what’s wrong with this? How do we need to change it? Empower those resistors, as you’ll see in later videos. To tell you the truth, you need to treat key leaders with special attention, make sure they get no surprises. We do official leaks from the meeting and so forth, so that there are no surprises in the end. What does with resistance tell the truth?

Don’t try to sell the change. Secondly, you need to see resistance as a contribution because it is nobody. Very few people wake up in the morning and say, I think I’m going to resist this change project. No, they have history. They know what has happened before. So that kind of information, why they resist, needs to be taken into account for your change initiative to succeed. So you want to go to school with these resistors. Don’t try to do away with them. Ask them to teach you what’s going on. Now. The other side of that is, don’t try to convert people that are absolutely opposed. Work with people that are ready to go get the ship moving in the right direction. And a lot of those people will come on board. Don’t waste time fighting and selling and persuading people. State the mission, get the ship moving in the right direction, and invite people. Constantly. Invite people, but don’t try to sell or persuade or save or teach those people that just don’t want to be saved or taught. Now, how do you enroll stakeholders? I use this form. I think you’ll see the URL for it at some point here. Where are the key stakeholders, and where are they in their support, and what’s your strategy? So here you put the stakeholders names down this side of the worksheet.

And then you ask yourself or ask if the team is this person or this department. Are they actively opposed, passively opposed, cynical, neutral, are willing to let it happen, willing to help it happen? Are you willing to make it happen? And then what’s going to be our strategy for dealing with them? And who is the single person accountable that’s going to take on that particular stakeholder group and enroll them in getting behind, moving them as much as you possibly can across this particular matrix. Now, it depends on how intense the change is. If it’s a small change within a stable environment, you don’t really have too much trauma. If it’s a transitional change where you’re going from point A to point B, like a re-engineering thing, sometimes that produces some trauma for sure. If it’s a transformational change or breakthrough, change where you need it, where it affects the strategy and needs commitment and courage and feedback from people, a major change that involves a lot of self discovery, that’s going to take a lot more getting those, getting those particular leaders on board. So when we come back, we’re going to do step three, which is how do you identify and train this internal team, people to carry out much of. Of the change initiative, even including helping to orient the senior executive group.


This insightful video delves into essential survival skills for navigating today’s workplace challenges. Covering skills seven to ten, it emphasizes the importance of developing courage to face challenges (symbolized by “tigers”), mastering cross-functional teamwork, adapting to rapid change, and finding purpose beyond routine tasks. The author encourages readers to view their work as contributing to a larger purpose, urging them to quit a mundane job and discover work that aligns with personal passions and makes a meaningful impact. With a focus on personal development, organizational growth, and effective teamwork, the video provides practical advice for thriving in the dynamic modern workplace.

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