Account management is change management

A good account man changes stuff that isn’t working.

A great account man changes how an organization thinks together with his/her team/clients.

But what are the key steps to manage change. I came across some great stuff by John Kotter that I can summarize below :

1) Establish a sense of urgency

– make objectives real & relevant

– help others see the need for change and the importance of acting immediately

– identify crises, potential crises or major opportunities

2) Pull together the guiding team (a powerful guiding colalition)

– assemble a group with enough power & the right skills to lead the change effort (think Oceans 11 here)

– encourage the group to work together as a team

3) Create a vision

– develop the vision with the team to help direct the change effort

– develop strategies for achieving that vision

4) Communicate the vision

– use every mechanism and involve as many people as possible to communicate the new vision & strategies for understanding/achieving buy in.

– communicate the essentials, simply, to appeal and respond to peoples needs

5) Empower others to act

– remove obstacles/barriers to change

– change systems or structures that seriously undermine the vision

– encourage risk taking & non traditional ideas, activities & actions

– recognise & reward progress/achievements

6) Plan & create short term wins

– set aims that are easy to achieve for visible performance improvements

– create those improvements in bite sized chunks

– finish current stages before starting new ones

7) Don’t let up

– foster & encourage determination and persistence

– consolidate improvements & produce more change

– used increased credibility to change systems, structures & policies that don’t fit the vision

– highlight achieved & future milestones

8) Make change stick

(institionalise new approaches)

– weave change into the culture

– articulate connection between new behaviours & corparate succcess

– develop the means to ensure leadership development & succession

– reinforce the value of successul change via recruitment, promotion & new change leaders who can implement the vision

Change fails when:

– we allow too much complexity.

– failure to understand a clear vision

– failure to clearly communicate that vision

– permitting roadblocks against that vision

– not planning for short term results & not realising them

– declaring victory too soon

– failure to anchor change.

One of the best books (personally) that I’ve ever read on this topic is Who Moved My Cheese by Dr Spencer Johnson.  It should be a welcome addition to any account handling kit bag & contains my favourite life rule – ‘smell the cheese often’.

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