MGT/426 – Lessons on Managing Change
Throughout my life I have subscribed to the idea that we always make the best decisions possible given the information we have at the time, and it’s only what happens later that makes us realize that a good decision was in fact horrible after all.
This 20/20 hindsight mentality of mine has been recently challenged after having attended the MGT/426 course at the University of Phoenix. As I make preparations to leave the corporate world behind and pursue my dream of sailing the world, I now look to these new lessons on managing and sustaining change in my life.
With my new understanding of implementing a model of change in order to better control the outcome, I am no longer a prisoner of the hindsight is 20/20 way of justifying the results of my decision making.
Kotter’s eight-step change management model in particular is a powerful tool that I will utilize while making perhaps the boldest change in my life so far, and I feel more secure in knowing I have a more conclusive road map in which to rely upon.
Need for Urgency
The first step in Kotter’s change management model is to ensure there is a need for urgency. This is important due to the fact that when faced with the need for change, it is normal for individuals to weigh their options against whether or not the proposed change itself is too risky or if it is too risky not to move ahead with change.
This step will be valuable for me to remember if the need arises for me to be able to convince my crew that substantial changes regarding our itinerary are needed. In the past I would probably have minimized the information of any dangers such as the severity of approaching treacherous squalls in an attempt to shelter my crewmates from unnecessary worry or concern, and I would have bore the stress alone.
Now I understand that to gain their focus and full support for a vital task facing us, I will not forego the need to create a sense of urgency as long as I don’t go so far as to incite panic.
The second step in Kotter’s model is to ensure there is a team structure in place that can help guide and reinforce any changes. Designating specific roles will play a large part in the happiness of the crew, since they will take comfort in knowing everyone is doing their part.
Additionally, if members of the crew have a clear idea of their responsibilities and what is expected of them, the voyage will be more successful when situations arise that demand quick reactionary change. The roles will be assigned according to the strengths and weaknesses of the crew.
Designating specific roles will not only be important when we are underway, but equally important for on shore activities while in port such as provisioning tasks, as well as safety roles when scuba diving, enjoying local nightlife, and other amazing skirmishes.
Sharing the Vision
Developing a vision and sharing the vision are the third and fourth steps in Kotter’s change model. As the captain of a sailing yacht, I bear the responsibility for the joy and safety of my crew and I must lead by example. Over the years I have worked for several different types of bosses.
The employers I have respected the most never asked more of their staff than they were willing to do themselves, including being the first to arrive in the morning and many times the last to leave at the end of a long day.
Respect is earned in my book and by remaining true by acting upon and sharing my vision consistently with my crewmates about how our maiden voyage will unfold, I hope to garner their utmost respect along the way.
Empowering those around you is the vital fifth step to successfully managing change according to Dr. John Kotter. This step will be paramount for my ability to remain open to new ideas put forward from my crew and other cruisers I meet along the way that may lead to improved ways of doing things.
In order to accomplish this step, I will need to create an atmosphere where crewmates feel comfortable injecting their ideas or solutions when confronted with change. This will allow for a culture of participation that will ultimately benefit everyone aboard, improving the overall experience (Palmer, Dunford, & Akin, 2006).
Short Term Wins
The sixth step in the model is to make certain that short-term goals and rewards are reached along the journey that will provide the necessary motivation during long-term passages and expansive ocean crossings that can become tedious at times for even the most experienced sailors.
I have already made several friends online with the crew and captains of members in the sailing community as an attempt to glean as much knowledge as possible before embarking on my adventure. The crew of the sailing vessel “Delos,” which can be seen in action in their videos on YouTube has one interesting reward system that I will be sure to try (“S\V Delos- Island Hopping In The Philippines! “, 2015).
Each week they put the names of the crew on a piece of paper and draw one name from a hat. The name of the crewmate that is selected at random becomes King or Queen of the yacht for the week by having their chores relegated to others and is generally pampered in overall luxury by the rest of the crew.
The seventh step as it relates to my upcoming exploits, entails the consolidation of gains and rewarding crewmates who has embraced changes in a positive manner. This brings to mind the classic flick starring Kurt Russell as Captain Ron, where he explains to young
Ben about the importance of doing a good job. When Captain Ron initially assigns him the job title of swab and informs him this job requires lack luster tasks such as taking out the garbage, Ben who is less than enthusiastic lets out a large sigh of discontent.
Captain Ron notices this immediately and informs Ben that if he performs his job well he will get a better job and a promotion to mate. Upon hearing this, Ben’s demeanor instantly changes as he perks up and embraces his current job as a lowly swab (“Captain Ron Quotes”, 2015).
Embedding the change into the culture and solidifying the linkage amongst change and the performance of my crew will be a valuable and final step in my utilization of Kotter’s model. This last step is consistent with many other popular models, including Kurt Lewin’s theory of change whereby he describes this last step as the freeze step (Thompson, n.d.).
If the previous steps are referenced correctly, it should be relatively easy at this point for my crew to accept new changes and make them a part of how the ship operates and is able to further embrace change. Crewmates will know what to expect when faced with change, and will be better equipped to weather any storms – pun intended!
Luck does indeed favor a prepared mind. There is no single model for managing change that can be applied to every situation that occurs. Having said that, Kotter’s eight-step change management model is the most applicable model to the upcoming change in my life.
As a young boy, my father used to allow me to attend board meetings he held. One thing he was fond of saying was “Lack of preparation on your part does not require an emergency on my part.” While this seemed harsh to me at the time, I came to understand that by not bailing out others he actually empowered them to do better the next time as they would realize he was not there to do for them what they should and could do for themselves.
Kotter’s change model will enable me to embrace change and empower my crew to exercise responsibility and personal accountability in this way, while enjoying the solace of knowing the captain has a roadmap for handling change.
Captain Ron Quotes. (2015). Retrieved from
Palmer, A., Dunford, R., & Akin, G. (2006). Managing Organizational Change: A Multiple Perspectives Approach by McGraw-Hill Education
S\V Delos- Island Hopping In The Philippines! (2015). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDErIqY4eSU&list=PL3ABF62604C42649F&index=43
Thompson, R. (n.d.). Lewin’s Change Management Model. Retrieved from Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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