Written by Kevin Heisey
on May 25, 2021

The key to successful transformation is developing a culture where people have common beliefs aligned to the same vision throughout the entire organization. It’s not enough to only have senior Stakeholders who are passionate about the vision, you need that passion to permeate throughout the ranks. Achieving alignment behind this shared vision, however, is an enormous challenge and a common hurdle faced by organizations undergoing transformation.

If you are not fully aligned to the vision, there is a clear risk that your transformation doesn’t take hold in a meaningful way and progress stalls. While organizations can conduct certification trainings and adopt specific practices, if those activities aren’t aligned with and moving toward the vision and purpose, then they are simply activities. There are practical ways to ensure that people and activities align to vision and that true transformation occurs.

Identify Change Champions

Find and identify change champions who are fully committed to the transformation and are willing to tenaciously persevere to see change through. Celebrate their successes and recognize and reward their high-risk decisions, even when the outcomes fall short. Having people willing to take ownership of difficult transformation challenges is a success in itself and you need those champions to change the culture.

Overcome Fear of Failing

Fear of failing can be the root of change reluctance. Communicate that misses and setbacks are expected and are necessary elements of a transformation. Each setback is an opportunity to learn, grow and move closer to achieving the vision. If everything looks perfect and there appear to be no struggles, then something isn’t quite right.

Foster Open Communication

A culture of openness is critical in getting people aligned with vision and organizational change. One way to create it is to have specific platforms dedicated to ask anything questions and discussions. Town Hall meetings where absolutely no topic is off limits, good or bad, can change the entire organization’s attitude so that openness in communication becomes the norm. People might not open up right away, but that changes once they see that they can safely speak about anything and is crucial for understanding and aligning with the vision.

Reinforce Cultural Beliefs

Common beliefs mean consistent behavior up and down the management chain from executive leaders to interns. The more that leaders in your organization can reinforce and demonstrate the principles of the change that you are making and the vision that you are trying to fulfill, the better the vision will take hold.

Something as simple as asking teams about the impediments they face rather than ask about a status update can reinforce beliefs. If the next time you talk to the team you made progress toward removing the impediment, it demonstrates your commitment to the culture of change. Little things add up to reinforce the vision and effectively demonstrate that an Agile Product Management mindset is being practiced and respected throughout the organization.

A clear strategic vision that explains the reason for transformation, the core values behind the change and the desired future state is a foundation for any successful change. To make the vision come to life, people need to buy-in and align behind it. These tips are practical ways to reinforce the culture and values and drive the alignment to the vision necessary for it to take hold throughout your organization and drive a successful transformation.