The Three Key Frameworks for Leading Change Effectively

Over the decades, various business frameworks have emerged to drive performance and growth. They have built on each other as we learn from each other.

And over the decades I have both learned from others and contributed to the creation of frameworks that are widely used today.

What I have learned is this: leading change requires driving transformation in both the business culture and the business model simultaneously.

That last word is where most leaders get stuck. Here’s my observation:

It is the failure to link culture change to business performance that leads to the astonishingly high underperformance of most change initiatives.

In other words, change is hard because we lack of a systemic approach to leading it. The evidence? Well, 70% of change initiatives fail to meet expectations.

Why? Obviously, there’s nuance here. Change initiatives die or prosper for many reasons. But consider this explanation, as argued in my last post:

We seem to lack both the language that aligns teams and organizations around the journey to a new future, and the analytical frameworks for governing that journey.

An Approach That Works

To that end, for years I’ve strived to provide frameworks simple enough for leaders and teams to align their thinking, yet complex enough to get the job done. My clients, leaders whose companies cover the spectrum from tech start-ups to global pharma, are my laboratory.

My colleague, Robert Heinzman, has captured three foundational frameworks of this approach in a new ebook. It's the second in a series.

The ebook is engaging while appropriately technical, with a case study to demonstrate how these frameworks work.

Here’s an overview of the three frameworks: 

Framework #1: Primary Constraint Logic

To Identify & Resolve Primary Constraints To Higher Performance

A primary constraint is the one capability gap that currently most limits higher sustainable performance. Understanding primary constraints is the secret to rising above.

The logic is as follows. In any system there are key conditions that, if optimized, make higher performance inevitable. For example, in a retail store, these conditions are:

  1. Location
  2. In-store experience
  3. Quality of goods

Knowing which one condition is weakest enables you to pinpoint the current primary constraint. Knowing that these 'conditions for success' are hierarchical enables you to weigh options.

The powerful implication is that resolving the primary constraint represents the highest return investment of all potential investments.

On teams, knowing the primary constraint - thinking that way, innovating that way - creates focus and an optimal path forward.

Framework #2: The Seven Principles for Team Effectiveness

Resolve Your Current Primary Constraint To Team Effectiveness

Identify your team's primary constraint to rising to the next level of sustainable performance.

These seven principles are conditions that, when optimized, will drive higher team performance. Stated differently, these are seven conversations that, when driven to resolution, enable teams to identify their constraints with precision.

This approach creates high performing team with these attributes:

  1. Inspired by purpose
  2. Focused on a shared journey
  3. Accountable and collaborative mindset
  4. Right skills in the right roles
  5. Strong and clear interdependencies, reinforcing team agreements
  6. Advocating strategies from a customer value perspective
  7. Laser focused on implementation that resolves primary constraints for the highest impact and ROI

Framework #3: The Business Triangle

Create A Clear Line Of Sight To Your Customer’s Experience

Identify and track resolution of primary constraints to delivering value to target customers.

Let’s start with a precise definition of a business:

A business is a system-of-capabilities aligned to develop, sell and deliver products and services to target customers with support from partners towards competitive advantage.

This definition can be represented graphically as a chain of activities or capabilities by which competitive advantage is created in a business.

The business triangle is a universal framework for how businesses operate. It enables teams to:

  • Define their operational purpose
  • Structure their roles
  • Define key interdependencies
  • Identify and resolve primary constraints to delivering higher value to customers.

…all entirely based on the target customer’s experience. The target customer’s experience is envisioned as being in the middle of this triangle. 

How Do You Lead The Journey To Higher Performance

Together, these three frameworks provide a powerful, rational storyline to drive buy-in and alignment when leading change. They deflate the painful distraction of personal politics. They provide shared language, driving conversations to resolution with precision. They defuse natural tensions that arise from competing strategies from key stakeholders.

Overarching these attributes, these frameworks accelerate both the speed and the precision of decision-making.

Again, to learn more, here is a link to the ebook, Leading Transformational Change: The Three Key Frameworks For Leading Change.