Organisational Change Management Volume 1

Framework 51 Transition Strategy (STARS)


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There is no-one-size-fits-all for organisational change. On the other hand, there are some basic principles to follow

"...organize to learn about the business, seek to secure early wins, quickly build the team you need to achieve your top priorities and garner support across the company. But the way you apply the principles depends very much on the business situation you're confronting..."

Michael Watkins, 2009

Remember: activities, strategies, etc that were successful in the past do not necessarily work now or in the future


The STARS approach involves 5 common situations, ie startup (eg new venture), turnaround (eg facing a crisis), accelerated growth (eg business taking-off), realignment (eg handling maturity and re-energising) and sustaining success (eg maintaining momentum).






Assemble the resources and capabilities (people, money, technology, processes, etc) to start a new business or initiative

- building the strategy, structures, systems as a greenfield operation

- establishing a high-performance team

- handling limited resources

- start doing the right things from the beginning

- staff are energized by the possibilities

- there are no rigid preconceptions


Saving a business or initiative that is in trouble

- re-energizing demoralized staff and other stakeholders

- making effective decisions under pressure

- making difficult decisions

- everyone recognizes that the changes are necessary

- stakeholders offer support

- work on short-term wins

Accelerated Growth

Handling a rapidly expanding business

- putting in place structures and systems to handle growth

- integrating staff

- growth potential keeps staff motivated

- staff willing to stretch themselves and others


Re-energising a previously successful organisation that is stagnating

- convincing staff that change is necessary

- carefully reconstructing the top team and refocusing the organisation

- organisation has significant pockets of strength

- staff want to continue to see themselves as successful

Sustaining Success

A high performing organisations wanting to maintain success

- living in the shadow of past accomplishments

- consolidating before embarking on too many new initiatives

- finding ways to take the business to the next level

- already have a strong team

- keep motivation to continue story of success

- build on the current foundations of success

Enlarging on fundamental principles:

1. Organise to learn (determine what you most need to learn, from whom and how you can best learn it), eg

- for turnarounds, focus on technical learnings (strategy, markets, technologies, etc) and be prepared to act quickly

- for realignments, focus on cultural and political learnings and be prepared to act deliberately

2. Define strategic intent (develop and communicate a compelling vision for what the organisation will become. Outline a clear strategy for achieving that vision), eg

- for turnarounds, prune non-core businesses

- for realignments, fine-tune and leverage existing capabilities

3. Establish A-team priorities (identify a few vital goals and persue them relentlessly. Think about what you need to have accomplished within 12 months), eg

- for turnarounds, make faster and bold moves that focus on strategy and structure

- for realignments, make slower, more deliberate moves that focus on systems, skills and culture

4. Build the leadership team (evaluate the team you inherit; move deftly to make the necessary changes; find optimal balance between using outsiders and insiders), eg

- for turnarounds, be prepared to clean out top management and recruit external talent

- for realignments, make a few important changes and promote high potentials from within

5. Secure early wins (think through how you plan to arrive in the new organisation; find ways to build personal credibility and energize the staff), eg

- for turnarounds, shift the organisational mindset from despair to hope

- for realignments, shift the organisational mindset from denial to self-awareness

6. Create supporting alliances (understand how the organisations really works and who has influence; create key coalitions in support of your initiatives), eg

- for turnarounds, gain support from formal and informal movers and shakers/gatekeepers, etc

- for realignments, build networks and alliances where needed to insure better execution

Pillars of self-management in change management

1. Enhancing self-awareness (need to ask the following question:

- how do I prefer to learn in new situations? Psychometric testing can help determine your style of leadership, eg if you prefer heroism, then turnarounds are best for you.)

2. Exercising personal discipline (need to ast the following questions:

- What am I good at?

- What do I like doing?

- What do I need to do less of?

- What am I average at?

- What do I dislike doing?

- What do I need to do more of?

The answers to these questions can identify your preferred management/leadership style and help you decide on the appropriate leadership style for the situation)

3. Building complementary teams (because an individual cannot do it all alone and you need a balance of different management/leadership styles in your teams to achieve the change goals)

(source: Michael Watkins, 2009)


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