leading change

It’s a challenging time to be a Fundraising Director; of course there’s the usual pressure to deliver income for today and tomorrow, but in addition there is also increasing media and consumer scepticism towards how charities fundraise and spend their money. This means that charities need to work hard to regain the “right to ask”.

What’s clear is that things need to change; the good news is that there’s lots we know about how to do this, and many references that help us establish what contributes to successful (and unsuccessful) change. Chatting about these challenges recently with Jon Goulding from Atomic London, he reminded me about an old article that John Kotter the American expert on leadership and change wrote.

In it he stated that one important characteristic that distinguishes leaders from managers is that the former produce “extremely useful change” whilst the latter “consistently (produce) key results expected by various stakeholders”.

Both of these are really important. But at this precise moment for many within fundraising, extremely useful change has to be near the top of the agenda.

There is a conceptual model behind this:

Probability of achieving success in Change = f (D x M x P) > C

This simply says that the likelihood of achieving change depends on whether the product of three multipliers (D, M & P) is greater than the perceived cost of the change (C)

D             is the Dissatisfaction in the organisation with the status quo

M            is the quality of the Model for change

P             is the quality of the Process for change

C             is the Cost of change (as perceived by those who must endure it)

The key points he notes are

  • The perceived cost of change is almost always high which means that the product of dissatisfaction, quality of model and quality of the process must be high
  • It’s a multiplicative formula so a low value on any one of dissatisfaction, quality of model or quality of process immediately diminishes the likelihood of success

His further analysis based on many small medium and large organisations identifies 8 major reasons why change efforts fail and if you’re interested let me know and I’ll pass these on to you

For me there are two additional key insights that we need to be aware of:

  1. The cost of change relates to the cost as perceived by those who endure it, and frequently (in my experience) this is not the same group as those people who want the change!
  2. Is there really sufficient dissatisfaction within the organisation to support a change effort? Does everyone understand what needs to change and what the new model needs to have? It’s very easy to articulate what’s currently wrong, it’s much harder to create a new approach.

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