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Leading Change – through the rear-view mirror

When it comes to most things in life the things we do are mostly repeats of our past and make judgements based on our history, pre-conceived ideas or even our own prejudices. For business leaders we need to take our people on a journey but recognising we need people to move to something new; I call this leading change – through the rear-view mirror.

From past experiences I have concluded that businesses don’t manage change they have to lead change to be successful. Individuals can manage their responses to change but leaders have to lead. The leaders need to understand that all of us have our own rear-view mirror and we need leading through the change.

Various tools and techniques exist to help the change; however, one I found extremely useful is to ‘create memories of the past’. In this technique a leader will take a team of people to a date in the future and create a sensory environment whereby they can visualise it, think it even taste or smell the place. This place has to be inviting and somewhere the team want to be. Then ask them to look into the rear-view mirror and lead the change backwards to today and document what they did and the results of their actions.

Another great change tool is making a change impact assessment – who needs to change and how the change will be recognised. Key to remember is you are trying to change behaviours not change personality – you can’t do that anyway. Also, people will often ‘validate what they have created’ so getting your team involved in designing the journey of change.

In summary; Leading Change – through the rear-view mirror; validating the steps forward by measuring against the past is a good place to start a change process and gives leaders an opportunity to take people with them which delivers sustainable change.