Publish with us

Follow Penguin

Follow Penguinsters

Follow Hind Pocket Books

Change Through Tipping Point Leadership

To turn a mere strategy into a movement, people must recognize what needs to be done and yearn to do it themselves.

Four Steps to the Tipping Point

  1. Break through the cognitive hurdle.

To make a compelling case for change, don’t just point at the numbers and demand better ones. Your abstract message won’t stick. Instead, make key managers experience your organization’s problems.
Example: New Yorkers once viewed subways as the most dangerous places in their city. But the New York Transit Police’s senior staff pooh-poohed public fears—because none had ever ridden subways. To shatter their complacency, Bratton required all NYTP officers— himself included—to commute by subway. Seeing the jammed turnstiles, youth gangs, and derelicts, they grasped the need for change—and embraced responsibility for it.

  1. Sidestep the resource hurdle.

Rather than trimming your ambitions (dooming your company to mediocrity) or fighting for more resources (draining attention from the underlying problems), concentrate current resources on areas most needing change.
Example: Since the majority of subway crimes occurred at only a few stations, Bratton focused manpower there— instead of putting a cop on every subway line, entrance, and exit.

  1. Jump the motivational hurdle.

To turn a mere strategy into a movement, people must recognize what needs to be done and yearn to do it themselves. But don’t try reforming your whole organization; that’s cumbersome and expensive. Instead, motivate key influencers—persuasive people with multiple connections. Like bowling kingpins hit straight on, they topple all the other pins. Most organizations have several key influencers who share common problems and concerns— making it easy to identify and motivate them.
Example: Bratton put the NYPD’s key influencers— precinct commanders—under a spotlight during semiweekly crime strategy review meetings, where peers and superiors grilled commanders about precinct performance. Results? A culture of performance, accountability, and learning that commanders replicated down the ranks. Also make challenges attainable. Bratton exhorted staff to make NYC’s streets safe “block by block, precinct by precinct, and borough by borough.”

  1. Knock over the political hurdle.

Even when organizations reach their tipping points, powerful vested interests resist change. Identify and silence key naysayers early by putting a respected senior insider on your top team. Example: At the NYPD, Bratton appointed 20-year veteran cop John Timoney as his number two. Timoney knew the key players and how they played the political game. Early on, he identified likely saboteurs and resisters among top staff—prompting a changing of the guard. Also, silence opposition with indisputable facts. When Bratton proved his proposed crime-reporting system required less than 18 minutes a day, time-crunched precinct commanders adopted it.
This is an excerpt from HBR’s 10 Must Reads (On Change Management). Get your copy here.
Credit: Abhishek Singh

More from the Penguin Digest

error: Content is protected !!