Most of my posts focus on how to help individuals change and live a better life.  But the same principles that are required for successful individual change can be used to assist organizations to change also.  And in the case of organizations, change is not required merely to improve effectiveness; it frequently is required for an organization’s very survival.

Embrace or Reject ChangeAn article in the current issue of Fortune (February 25, 2013) by Geoff Colvin reminded me how several Lefkoe Method processes can be used to help organizations make radical changes relatively easily.

Business-model innovation is required for almost all businesses

Here is an excerpt of what Geoff said:

“Your business model doesn’t work anymore.  That blunt claim won’t be far wrong.  Even if the model has worked for decades, even if it’s working okay right now, the odds are that it soon won’t be. …  Not since the Industrial Revolution have we seen a longer or broader list of companies whose business models are suddenly obsolete. …

“Peter Drucker noted that ‘sloughing off yesterday’ is almost impossibly difficult, yet every organization must get used to doing it regularly.  …  Business-model innovation is the new essential competency.  It’s had.  It will separate tomorrow’s winner from the losers.”

So almost every organization will have to change it’s business model and those very same organizations will find it “almost impossibly difficult” to do that.

I suggest that it actually could be very easy to do that if you knew how.

The Lefkoe Method helps organizations as well as individuals

About 25 years ago I developed a simple process based on the Lefkoe Belief Process that enables organizations to make radical change, easily and quickly. Let me describe the process to you because it can be used to enable organizations to create new business models, change corporate cultures, or make any other radical change that current circumstances require.

A process to change corporate cultures

Here are the steps of the Lefkoe Belief Process—Changed Environment®.  This is a variation of the Lefkoe Belief Process® designed specifically to be used in organizations to quickly and permanently eliminate cultural and job beliefs when the environment has changed.  I’ll present each of the seven steps and then explain how I used them with thousands of employees at seven different phone companies.  Then you should be able to ask the same seven questions of your own employees so that they, too, welcome change.

Step 1.  What are you doing?  I asked each group of employees what they were doing daily.  Service technicians went to each customer’s site to install, repair or maintain equipment.  People in the Central Office handled the equipment that connected to each individual line.  Etc.

Step 2.  What do you believe that explains what you are doing, that causes your behavior?  I then asked each group of employees what they believed about their jobs that had them do what they did.  Service technicians said that their job was to make sure the customer’s equipment was in good working condition and connected to the Central Office.  Employees in the Central Office said their job was to make sure all the connections worked.  Etc.

Step 3.  What happened, what were the earliest experiences you had, that led to the belief being formed? Here each group of employees described the training they had that led to their belief about their jobs.  They told me about their earliest experiences, which consisted of being told by someone what they needed to do every day and why that activity was required for the company to be successful.

Step 4.  Can you see that your belief about your job made sense given the environment at the time it was formed and that if you had a different environment you probably would have formed a different belief?  This is the first crucial step in eliminating the belief because here they realized that what they were told to do was what was wanted and needed at the time.  Service Techs made sure each customer’s equipment was in good working condition and connected to the Central Office. Workers in the Central Office did what was needed to keep the lines connected. Etc.  Employees realized that what they needed to do in their job was strictly a function of the environment at the time—what customers wanted, regulation, competition (or the lack thereof), and what it took to deliver the “Universal Service” that was the mission of the Bell System.  They also recognized that if any of these elements had been significantly different, their job would have been different.  So they realized that what they do is a function of their belief about their job, and their belief is a function of the environment in which that belief was formed.  And finally, if there had been a different environment, they would have formed a different belief about their job, and would be acting very differently today.

Step 5.  Describe today’s environment.  Is it the same as the environment when the belief originally was formed?  Here I described the new environment, in which customers had a choice for the first time, when competition really existed for the first time, the new regulations, the new mission that emphasized customer satisfaction, etc.  It was clear that the environment had changed drastically from the time when their beliefs about their jobs had originally been formed.

Step 6.  If the environment is the same, your belief about your job and the behavior it produces probably is appropriate today.  If it is not, what belief is appropriate for today’s environment?  Once they realized that the environment had changed, they were able to create a new belief about their job, based on what was now needed. For example, instead of being focused on the technical part of their job, Service Technicians started to focus on the customer satisfaction part of their job and gave themselves a new job description: Customer Satisfiers.   In fact, as “Service Technicians,” talking to and taking care of customers actually got in the way of them doing their “job.”

Step 7.  Given your new belief, what behavior would naturally manifest? After Service Technicians changed their belief about their job, when they went to customers’ sites their focus was on making sure customers were totally satisfied, so that dealing with equipment was not the focus of their job, but only one way to insure customer satisfaction.

(Steps of the Lefkoe Belief Process—Changed Environment®, copyright © 1985 by Morty Lefkoe)

As soon as you realize that your belief is “a truth,” appropriate at a particular time and not “the truth,” appropriate for all time—that it is a function of a specific environment that no longer exists—the belief will disappear and will not return.  At which point you can create a new belief based on the current environment, which will result in behavior that is appropriate for the current environment.

By the way, most external surveys of customer satisfaction in the telephone companies that used this change process rose from the mid-70s to the mid-90s, on a scale of 0-100.

You will be surprised how easy it is get employees to accept (in fact, embrace) change once their old beliefs about their job have changed. Try using this process in your own company and share the results you achieve with all of us.

Thanks for reading my blog.  Please share below your thoughts and questions on the need for change—both in individuals and in organizations.  Your comments will add value for thousands of readers.  I read them all and respond to as many as I can.

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Copyright © 2013 Morty Lefkoe

Use this information to improve your life

If you have the opportunity to use this process with a group of workers, try it.  If not, the next time you hear someone defending the status quo in your company, go through the steps with that person.

You’ll be amazed how open people can get to change and to new points of view after doing this process.

When you do try it, come back here and write about your experience.