EPIC Change by Timothy R. Clark

April 20, 2008 at 8:31 pm Leave a comment

EPIC Change outlines patterns of and steps required for large-scale organizational change through the EPIC methodology:

  • Evaluate
  • Prepare
  • Implement
  • Consolidate

Part I: The EPIC Methodology

The four spheres of leadership literacy:

  1. Personal: Leaders must have self-awareness and personal understanding. They must seek their own truth and accept feedback. Key Point: Leaders must first become intentional self-learners.
  2. Organizational: Leaders must have organizational understanding. This requires an understanding of an organization’s operational, financial, and cultural performance.
  3. Market: Organizations that understand the topography of their specific markets are able to spot trends, threats, and opportunities. Opportunities include finding solutions for inefficiencies or unmet needs in the market.
  4. Global: Continued innovation occurs in an environment where leaders understand the macro-level trends occurring in the world.

In today’s global age, lack of certainty in the market is a fact. Change leadership has become a necessary competency for survival and success. The EPIC Methodology explains this approach from a systems-level perspective.

Six consistent pattern form the basis of the EPIC Methodology:

Pattern 1: Change requires more work and creates more stress.

Types of change:

  1. Performance: Requires people and organizations to behave, work, and perform at a higher level (includes: department restructuring, creating a new product line, acquiring another company, or outsourcing a function.
  2. Compliance: Requires people to comply with something that is new but does not require performance at a higher level. It is often a change in policy or procedure and not often directly felt or seen.

Pattern 2: There are four stages of a successful change process.

  • Evaluation: Leaders evaluate competitive reality, international performance, and alternatives for change.
  • Preparation: This stage requires more work and additional stress than does evaluation. Shifting resource allocation signals the preparation stage and is the beginning of the break from the stability of the status quo. In this stage, organizations experiment, model, test, and trial options before making a final decision to pursue change.
  • Implementation: Organizations execute the tasks that were planned during preparation. Key Point: This is the stage where resistance is the strongest.
  • Consolidation: Happens after achieving sustained results; motivation increases and gradually becomes stronger than the resistance that may have originally opposed it.

Leaders must deliberately navigate through each stage for successful change to happen.

Pattern 3: The discretionary efforts of people drive change.

Organizational change is dependent on people. Factors that affect the success or failure are:

  • “Hard” or technical: Consist of inanimate and inter resources.
  • Human or “Soft”: Deal with people, thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

Pattern 4: Leaders provide the energy.

The change process begins with people, time, resources, and a plan. Large amounts of energy motivate people involved in the change process. Without energy, there is no change. Leaders must create and replenish that energy throughout the process.

Pattern 5: The power curve of change can absorb stress.

Organizations consume energy that is roughly equal to the amount of work performed and stress absorbed. Leaders who understand the power curve can help sustain different energy requirements for employees in the different stages to prevent the change process from faltering.

Pattern 6: The seven primary energy sources in the change process. (I’ve placed the stage which you mostly find the source)

  • Agility (Evaluate)
  • Urgency (Prepare)
  • Credibility (Prepare)
  • Coalition (Prepare)
  • Vision (Prepare)
  • Early results (Implement)
  • Sustained results Consolidate)

Part II: Evaluate

The first stage. Agility is the primary energy source used during this stage. Different types of agility are necessary for use in varying stages. There are three main categories:

  1. Intellectual: Organizations must be prepared to initiate change at any time. Leaders who can understand the nature of competitive advantage are inclined to evaluate a situation first. This means being in a constant state of readiness, and acknowledging change.
  2. Emotional: This is to understand, accept, and commit to the nature of leadership. There is tension between leaders to who maintain the status quo – doing “operational work” – and those who disrupt the status quo, which is called change work. It is critical that both work is performed so that the current strategies are being executed and preparation is being doin to execute the future strategy by altering some aspects of the culture, systems, processes, structures, and tools, in order to meet an adaptive challenge and create value tomorrow. Change work requires different competencies in a leader than operational work. The transition is more emotional and psychological than intellectual.
  3. Physical: Agility is also physical. Continually going back and forth between change and operational work can be physically taxing. In general, the new physical requirement for agility is flexibility and stamina in an intense environment.

Part III: Prepare

Moving from evaluate to prepare includes:

  • analyzing change alternatives
  • selecting a course of action
  • planning for implementation

It is here when the rest of the employee population gets involved to do the actual work. The leader must provide vision (“what”) and strategy (“how”) in order to be successful.

This move to implementation creates a disturbance to the organization because people feel destabilized as they are pushed to move out of an environment of inertia. Preparing with urgency jump starts the change process. During this phase, four of the seven energy sources come into play.

  • Urgency: Acts as a form of motivation. Three categories of adaptive challenge that affect preparation with urgency: opportunity, threat, and crisis.
  • Credibility: The only source derived from within the leader. It is vital to move and inspire people to make change credible. The most enduring energy source.
  • Coalition: Is a group of people inside or outside of an organization who together support change. Natural next step after establishment of credibility. Leaders rely on coalitions to continue to replenish energy, for leaders cannot lead change alone. Coalitions offer even more benefits, specifically in terms of what they can do to replenish energy, avoid obstacles, and increase chances of success.
  • Vision: People must understand the direction of their organization. Good change leaders can articulate straightforward visions of growth and operational excellence. Simplicity is the key because people need to understand the reason for change at a basic level. They need to understand the vision, the strategy, and the role they play. The vision educates, motivates, and coordinates.

Part IV: Implement

Significant amounts of energy from the first five sources are required to fuel implementations. Large-scale change comes from energy created by early results, which are also known as quick hits or small wins. In the case of large and complex change, results may not come immediately. The way to get early results is to set the right goals. Another challenge facing leaders is predicting problems on the human side: managing resistance. With major change initiatives come many smaller change elements.

That being said, there are four different types of change:

  • Discretionary: Requires little organizational preparation as it does not disturb the status quo
  • Delightful: Can represent improved performance and release positive energy
  • Demanding: Requires significant investment in time, resources, and energy. Solid leadership required.
  • Dangerous: Resistance is created and can grow and threaten the initiative.

Part V: Consolidate

The ultimate goal: sustained results. Consolidation is the final stage of the change process, which is about making change solid, strong, and firmly established. From beginning to end, change demands extraordinary fidelity. There are several pitfalls leaders suffer in the consolidation stage. There are three levels of change that take place before reaching consolidation:

  1. Structural change: This occurs when the nonbehavioral aspects of change are prepared. Nonbehavioral aspects of change relate to structure, systems, process, technology, and legalities.
  2. Behavioral change: Change moves here when individuals begin to behave differently under new conditions, and with the aid of different resources.
  3. Cultural change: Change will not last unless it takes hold of the elements of organizational culture. The culture must support change.

Based on the three levels of change, it is clear why so many change initiatives do not achieve consolidation after generating results.

Understanding organizational change and its underlying principles is precisely the challenge leaders are facing in the global age. Leaders who are open, collaborative, and approachable are more likely to generate and replenish the energy required for successful change management.

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Entry filed under: Leadership.

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