3 Simple Steps for Creating Major Changes

Whether the expectation is overt or covert, most leaders are required to facilitate change.

It could be something major – convert an ERP system, drive Lean into an organization or even try to change the organizational culture.

Other times it’s minor in comparison – change the way you conduct staff meetings, find a way to change an employee’s behavior or push your department to a higher level of performance.

At a fundamental level – change is change. While the task at hand may be “big” or “small”, you must be deliberate to successfully move the needle.

As a framework for improving your change efforts, consider addressing three separate, but connected components. Only after hitting all three can you expect to see sustainable change in people (and thus in your area).

The three areas I want you to address are labeled:

  1. The Head (do they understand?)
  2. The Heart (do they believe?)
  3. The Hands (can they do it or teach it to others?)


Let’s look at them each for better understanding.

  1. The Head: This is the intellectual component of change. It requires an understanding of the desired change (as well as the rationale for doing so). Regardless of “agreement” they must understand the reason for the requested change. Ask your people directly – “Why are we doing this?” or “What do you think is driving our need to change?” “What am I asking you to do?”  Probe to see if they ‘get it’ – be sure the head is engaged and the awareness is adequate.
  2. The Heart: This is the emotional component of change. This is more difficult to win over, but is critical for the change to last. You can force change (mandatory compliance), but to get sustainable change you need to win their hearts. This requires more salesmanship on your part. You need to know your employees and appreciate what makes them tick. Knowing them allows you to customize an approach to win their hearts. For example, you may need to show more data; conversely, you may need to ease their concerns/worries. You may need to demonstrate how it is better for them (wiifm). There is no easy or quick way to win the hearts during change. This is where you earn your stripes as a leader – you must continually build your tools and techniques for doing so.
  3. The Hands: This is the physical aspect of change – it is when you throw the switch and do it. Ideally, it comes after you have satisfied the head and won the heart. It is much easier to launch change with the foundation already built. You can then teach, offer feedback, monitor efforts, look for areas to coach in order to improve the effort. Again, modify the pace at which you launch the change based on external variables and the personality of your employees. For example – some prefer being thrown into the deep end of the pool to figure it out. Others prefer a chance to walk in from the shallow end as they gain confidence along the way. The key is to engage them – make it real. It is no longer an intellectual effort – it is action based.


I appreciate that I’m over simplifying the difficulty of leading change. I get that. However, I’m trying to move beyond dumb luck or mandatory edicts.

As leaders, you must learn to be highly effective in creating change in order to stay relevant (let alone successful).

My challenge to you:

Pick a “change” needed in your world and use the Head, Heart and Hands model to tackle it. Take 30 minutes to scope out a strategy for each component. Don’t pick something too major as a first project – start small and work your way up.

Feel free to email me questions, or better yet – success stories!

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