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Mastering the Challenges of Leading Change by H. James Dallas

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Chapter 1Set a Course for Change

I truly believe that the ultimate success or failure of any change initiative isn't decided along the way, but right at the outset. Unfortunately, most traditional project management methodologies set you up to fail. They almost invariably start with a focus on the problem statement. They teach you how to do the analytical work required to define the problem (a.k.a. opportunity). By analytical, I mean taking a structured approach to gathering the facts and making them as quantifiable as possible.

Of course, defining the problem is necessary, but the purely analytical approach ignores the most important data you'll need up front in order to succeed. Before you can set a course for change—in other words, set your priorities—you first need to understand the existing priorities of the people who you'll ask to change. That's the most important information you need to lead change successfully. Your priorities will never become their priorities without understanding their starting places, which is exactly why most change initiatives fail. Understanding others' priorities upfront—both their daily issues and the underlying cultural impulses of the organization—will help you craft a far more accurate problem statement.

It starts with a shift in perspective, which is the cognitive equivalent of a person taking his glasses off: get in close and rely on others to see. I started practicing this long before I wore a tie to work for the very simple reason that ...

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