A Burning Platform

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I have been conducting interviews with senior business leaders on transformation. One of the key challenges we discussed was a burning platform for change. For businesses which have been successful, complacency hinders the drive for a leap to the next level of success. Changing the mindset is difficult because things are going well.

To build a burning platform, consider the following:

  1. Articulate why change is necessary—by articulating clearly the reasons for initiating the change, you create a sense of urgency and paint a picture on where the business might be if it chose to maintain the status quo. Draw on solid examples from other businesses to reinforce the risks the company faces.
  2. Share goals and plan—concrete goals define the rewards for taking on the change initiative. It is difficult to fathom whether it is worthy of the energy if the goals were vague. Share the action plan on what needs to be done, who would be involved, and the timeline for the change journey.
  3. Leverage common values—build interest and momentum by highlighting common values shared by the business and its people. People take pride in what they do. They have an intrinsic interest to make a contribution to the bigger good.

The burning platform must be real. It needs to be shared and the consequences of inaction need to be emphasized. For businesses which have an ongoing practice of sharing information on the business landscape and the company’s performance, it is not a big surprise when the burning platform for change is communicated. Therefore, start building a culture for an open dialogue. Employees do appreciate the sincerity and the information.

© Connie Siu 2012. All rights reserved.

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