Escape Velocity to Achieve Change

Geoffrey A Moore‘s latest book, Escape Velocity: Free Your Company’s Future from the Pull of the Past offers advice to executives who want to create next-generation growth. In it, Mr. Moore proposes a framework to guide senior leaders through taking an outward-in way of looking at where their company needs to go (in terms of category power, company power, and market power) so they can then develop a concrete strategy how to get there (offer power, execution power). This approach is in direct contrast to typical corporate annual strategic planning, that usually takes a bottom’s up approach (or inward-out way of looking at the company) based on tweaking last year’s operating model.

One topic that really resonates with us from a wHolistic ChangeSM perspective is when Mr. Moore differentiates between management and leadership:

  1. Leadership is being in service to a higher cause (externally focused);
  2. Management is about ensuring that service is appropriately rewarded (after identifying where the company needs to go).

He uses the word “catalyst” with regards to the way true change is achieved:

When looking to catalyze escape-velocity outcomes, leaders must use their power to focus change. They do this by sponsoring catalytic transition programs personally <emphasis mine>.

Catalytic programs, unlike their everyday brethren, are vehicles for leadership as opposed to management. If you try to launch a catalytic program without executive sponsorship, it signals lack of leadership, and the program will not get traction. Instead, you will have sent the message that traction is neither required nor even expected. It is all just a show. Nothing could be more demoralizing.

So while the implementers of transition programs are typically midlevel managers with superior orchestration skills, the real owners are and must be the top executives in charge.

This is exactly the reason that in the wHolistic ChangeSM approach, we include a stop sign at the end of Gaining Sponsorship. If you have not identified an executive who is ready to be the name and face associated with your transformational change, and who is ready to send communications and visibly demonstrate that they are committed to achieving the change, then stop the project until you have one.

I think Mr. Moore does a great job of explaining that a sponsor needs to be both leader and manager:

Your job as a leader is to communicate so vibrant a vision of the future that <your employees> are willing to let go of what they know and make the leap to the unknown. And then your job as a manager is to make sure that the future you have so confidently portrayed becomes real.

About Michelle Smeby

Michelle Smeby is CEO of wHolistic Change, Inc. with more than 10 years of experience implementing enterprise solutions at Fortune 100 companies. Michelle specializes in helping corporations deliver transformational change.
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