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            Effective Communication Practices during Organizational
           A Benchmarking Study of the U.S. Automobile Industry and U.S.
                                  Naval Aviation Enterprise

                                             July 2007

                                    Cynthia L. King, Ph.D.
                                Naval Postgraduate School


                                    Douglas Brook, Ph.D.

                                Naval Postgraduate School

                                  Timothy D. Hartge, M.A.
                            Unversity of Michigan, Dearborn

                       Approved for public release, distribution unlimited.

              Prepared for: Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California 93943

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The research presented in this report was supported by the Center of Defense
Management Reform of the Graduate School of Business & Public Policy at the
Naval Postgraduate School.

To request Defense Policy and Management Research or to become a
research sponsor, please contact:

Attn: Dr. Douglas A. Brook
Center for Defense Management Reform
Graduate School of Business & Public Policy
Naval Postgraduate School
555 Dyer Road, Room 320
Monterey, CA 93943-5103

Tel: (831) 656-3487
Fax: (831) 656-2253

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printed from our website

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                     A report prepared for

           U.S. Navy Sea Enterprise

Effective Communication Practices during
      Organizational Transformation
A Benchmarking Study of the U.S. Automobile Industry
        and U.S. Naval Aviation Enterprise
                       July, 2007

                Cynthia L. King, Ph.D.
               Naval Postgraduate School
                Douglas Brook, Ph.D.
               Naval Postgraduate School
              Timothy D. Hartge, M.A.
            University of Michigan, Dearborn
                The Center for Defense Management Reform
              provides assistance, information, and research on
              business management reform in national defense.
              Our goal is to provide research-based solutions to
                the most persistent issues of defense business
               management, and to support current and future
             defense leaders by informing and guiding the design
               and execution of current and future reforms. We
               provide access to scholarly research publications,
              contacts with faculty experts, and opportunities to
                 commission research on key issues in defense
                  management. The Center’s leading defense
                  management scholars engage with research
                  sponsors to conduct applied research that is
                         timely, accessible and useful.


    The authors would like to thank the U.S. Navy and Sea Enterprise for commission-
ing and funding this study. Special thanks to all the participants from General Motors
Corporation, Ford Motor Company, DaimlerChrysler, Toyota Corporation, and Naval
Aviation Enterprise for contributing their time to share their experiences. We are also
grateful to the University of Michigan-Dearborn for their support throughout the re-
search. Finally, we are indebted to SalemSystems, Inc. for their analysis and design
assistance, and Karey Shaffer and her competent staff for their technical support.
                  Effective Communication Practices
                 during Organizational Transformation
             A Benchmarking Study of the Automobile Industry
               and the U.S. Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE)

Table of Contents

  Introduction                                                           1

  Leadership Qualities                                                   5
  Articulate the plan                                                     5
  Work the plan                                                           7
  Be a genuine team player                                               10
  Face bad news                                                          13
  Delivery Strategies                                                    14
  Be honest and open                                                     14
  Cut to the chase                                                       17
  Adapt your message                                                     21
  Cultural Adaptations                                                   24
  Give them what they want                                               24
  Overcome Resistance                                                    27
  Be resourceful                                                         28
  Accept change as a way of life                                         32
  Conclusions                                                            33

  Appendix: Methods                                                      35

  References                                                             36

List of Tables

  Table 1:    A comparison of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Auto Industry        1

  Table 2:    Characteristics of Study Participants                           2

  Table 3:    Findings and Recommendations                                    3

Stories from the Trenches
  Stories from the trenches: Boots on the Ground                         11

  Stories from the trenches: The Problem Solving Board                   17

  Stories from the trenches: Reaching Younger Audiences                  30

     This study explores effective communication                  effective communication practices during organ-
practices during organizational transformation,                   izational change.
change, and turnarounds. The U.S. Navy, the
sponsor of this study, has been engaged in Enter-                 Benchmarking
prise transformation efforts for several years,                        Benchmarking is a systematic process for
introducing changes to improve combat readi-                      learning from contexts outside an organization’s
ness, while simultaneously reducing costs and                     usual frame of reference for the purpose of or-
increasing efficiencies. Many of these changes call               ganizational improvement. In 2006, CDMR did a
for shifts in the business side of the Navy. While                study to investigate the value of benchmarking
the traditional hierarchical structure is necessary               for the Navy’s Sea Enterprise initiative. We exam-
on the battlefield, the Navy seeks to change the                  ined various types of benchmarking approaches,
business side of their military operation to a                    explored both private and public sector bench-
more collaborative, matrix-like structure that                    marking candidates, and identified those most
makes better use of the combined strengths of                     relevant to the Navy. Based on this report, the
the organization.                                                 Navy asked us to benchmark communications for
    Leadership and management communication                       organizational change.
have been consistently identified in management
research as the foundation for creating and sus-                  The Department of Defense and the U.S.
taining organizational changes1. Consequently,                    Auto Industry
the Navy commissioned the Center for Defense                           Our approach to this study was to identify
Management Reform (CDMR) to conduct a re-                         companies or organizations with enough organ-
search study that would provide insights into                     izational and management similarity to make

Table 1. A comparison of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Auto Industry
  Sector Dimensions             U.S. Auto Industry                             U.S. Navy
  Size and Scope
  Employees                     718,000                                        705,000
  Annual Revenues               $419 billion (revenues)                        $127 billion (budget)
  Assets                        $315 billion                                   $447 billion
  Type                          Hierarchical, centralized                      Hierarchical, centralized
  Procedures                    Long standing, complex                         Long standing, complex
  Geography                     Dispersed facilities/operations                Dispersed facilities/operations
  Culture                       Distinctive sub-units                          Distinctive sub-units
  Internal forces               Rising costs, reduced revenue                  Rising costs, constrained revenue
  External forces               Changes in global marketplace                  Changes in global threats
  Public opinion                Direct impact on revenue                       Direct impact through Congress
  Public policy                 Labor, safety & environmental laws             National security, foreign policy
  Change Management
  Improved operations           Procurement, facilities, production            Procurement, facilities, processes
  Lower employee costs          Manpower, healthcare, retirement               Manpower, healthcare, retirement
  Restructuring goals           Return to profitability through company-       Future readiness & capability through
                                wide restructuring                             enterprise-wide thinking
  Frequent turnover             Promotions, retirement, restructuring          Promotions, retirement, elections
  Sustaining change             Changing agendas                               Changing agendas

                                                                              CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM     1
Benchmarking Change Introduction                                                             NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   them good candidates for benchmarking and a                 internal candidates, we investigated Naval Avia-
   two-way exchange of best practices. The strong              tion Enterprise (NAE). NAE was formed in 2004
   similarities between the Navy and U.S. auto com-            to implement the aviation components of the
   panies indicate that they can serve as useful               Navy’s future strategy, and to support the Navy’s
   benchmarks (see Table 1). The Navy and the auto             efficiency-seeking business management goals.
   industry are similar in size and scope, they have           NAE functions as a partnership between multiple
   comparable organizational structures and proc-              organizations within Naval Aviation, based on a
   esses, and they face internal and external envi-            corporate model of inter-organizational
   ronmental challenges that are strikingly alike.             communication, alignment, and integration.
   Their change agendas are quite similar, and                 NAE has been consistently identified as being
   leaders in both are challenged to sustain their             one of the Navy’s most fully-developed Enter-
   change agendas.                                             prise-wide organizations.
                                                                    Within these organizations, we interviewed
   The Participants                                            high level executives, senior managers, and man-
       Benchmarking research suggests that both                agers (See Table 2).
   external and internal benchmarking candidates
   provide useful information in evaluating best               Methods
   practices. For the external benchmark candidates,                In this benchmarking study, we were primar-
   we examined four companies in the U.S. auto in-             ily interested in the perceptions of executives and
   dustry – GM, Ford, Chrysler, and Toyota. For our            senior managers who had lived through—and
   Table 2. Characteristics of Study Participants
          Typical Titles                U.S. Auto Industry                    U.S. Navy
          Executive Management
                                        President                             Vice Admiral
                                        Executive Vice President              Rear Admiral
                                        Senior Vice President
                                        Vice President
          Senior Management
                                        Director                              Chief of Staff
                                        National Manager                      Program Executive Officer
                                        Manager                               Public Affairs Officer
                                        Integration Engineer                  Project Manager
                                        Program Specialist                    Program Analyst
                                                                              Executive Officer
                                                                              Department Head

          Areas Represented             U.S. Auto Industry                    U.S. Navy
                                        Corporate                             Naval Aviation
                                        Operations                            Enterprise Air Speed
                                        Engineering and Manufacturing         Maintenance
                                        Communications                        Communications

                                                                           CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM      2
Benchmarking Change Introduction                                                                NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   learned from—the many organizational changes                  the results section of this report. For a more com-
   they had experienced. Therefore, we were in-                  plete explanation and theoretical rationale of the
   formed in this study by the philosophy of                     methods, please see the Appendix, page 35.
   “grounded theory,” a method in which the re-
   search is grounded in the data itself and not                 Findings
   driven by a preconceived management communi-
                                                                      Thematically, our study resulted in three pri-
   cation theory. The benefit of this methodological
                                                                 mary areas of focus for effective and ineffective
   approach is that its primary aim is to understand             communication practices during times of organ-
   the research situation, not necessarily to test a             izational change.
         To gather our data, we conducted 34 qualita-                 First, the section on qualities of leaders fo-
   tive interviews, approximately one hour in                    cuses on those leadership communication prac-
   length, using a semi-structured interview format.             tices and behaviors that our participants shared
   All identities of participants were kept confiden-            as critical to leading any change effort in an or-
   tial.                                                         ganization.
         In the interviews, we used “Critical Incident                Second, the section on delivery strategies
   Technique,” which is a method for eliciting sto-              focuses primarily on the styles, media, and audi-
   ries or key incidents that illustrate effective or            ence awareness aspects of effectively delivering
   ineffective communication practices.                          organizational change messages.
         All the interviews were audio-taped, tran-                   Finally, the section on cultural adaptation
   scribed, and coded for recurrent themes. These                identifies key areas of culture and system
   themes were then organized and are presented in               changes that our participants deemed necessary

   Table 3. Findings and Recommendations

   Leadership Qualities                    Delivery Strategies                     Cultural Adaptations
   Articulate the plan                     Be honest and open                      Give them what they want
   Be passionate about the change          Tell the truth                          Tailor rewards
   Make a compelling case                  Make communication a priority           Use money when feasible
   Focus on results                        Communicate face-to-face                Provide public recognition
   Measure outcomes                        Walk the talk                           Encourage pride in work
                                                                                   Improve the quality of life
   Work the plan                           Cut to the chase
   Drive change deeply                     Build a shared understanding            Overcome resistance
   Understand the work involved            Be clear                                Replace personnel
   Solicit feedback                        Be consistent                           Persevere
   Walk the walk                           Repeat yourself                         Demonstrate the benefits
                                           Be concrete                             Appeal to self-interest
   Be a genuine team player                Use data persuasively                   Encourage rule-breaking
   Trust & support your people             Be transparent
   Mold consensus                          Be prompt
                                                                                   Be resourceful
   Share credit                                                                    Engage leadership
   Be visible                              Adapt your message                      Engage employees
   Heed communications experts             Focus on internal messaging             Give ownership
                                           Communicate to all levels               Work from the bottom up
   Face bad news                           Know your audience                      Provide training
   Deal with the reality                   What’s in it for me?                    Use outside expertise
   Use urgency as a motivator
   Support problem solving                                                         Accept change as a way of life
                                                                                   Be patient
                                                                                   Celebrate & repeat successes

                                                                             CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM      3
Benchmarking Change Introduction                                                     NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   to align the organization with the changes           news—that is, how they communicate their will-
   being proposed.                                      ingness to hear it—as the primary finding. In
        In all cases—whether we are discussing          short, we are concerned in this study with leader-
   qualities, behaviors, or system adjustments—we       ship and management qualities in terms of how
   are guided by the premise that all the recommen-     they are communicated through words
   dations be viewed as communicative acts that         and/or actions. Regardless of whether one
   impact perceptions and attitudes.                    possesses such qualities, it is only through
                                                        communicating that they will have an effect on
   Communication, management, leadership,               organizational members.
   or all three?
                                                        A collection of experienced voices
        The focus of this study is communication,            This study sought to capture the expertise
   based on the premise that all behaviors and atti-    and experience of participants primarily in their
   tudes are perceived by—and therefore communi-        own words. As a result, the report is largely based
   cated to—members of the organization. So, for        on direct quotations from those we interviewed.
   example, in one section we discuss “leadership       While the summary of findings table (Table 3)
   qualities,” but with the understanding that we are   illustrates the key themes that emerged from our
   primarily focused on how those qualities emerge      data, the richness of this study comes from the
   through leader communication. In one case, for       words of the participants.
   instance, a good leadership quality reported by           In short, we sought to preserve the words of
   participants was a willingness to hear bad news.     our participants because the nuance of their per-
   In our examples of leaders who exhibit this qual-    spectives can often only be gained through how
   ity, we relay the various ways they encourage bad    they specifically express their ideas.

                                                                    CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM      4
Benchmarking Change Leadership Qualities                                                     NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   Leadership Qualities
        In any change effort, our participants say, it is   leadership from the top. You need that strong
   critical that the organization have leaders that         commitment and not just the words.”
   manage and shepherd the transformation                        One clear benefit to a leader’s passion is that
   through the organization. Current change re-             people are more apt to get on board with the
   search suggests that defining the change focus,          plan: “They want to see your commitment. If
   guiding the change effort, and facilitating organ-       you’re committed to it, then you’re going to have
   izational participation are all important leader         an easier time getting me to become committed
   activities1. More specifically, however, the lead-       to it ... you can force compliance, [but] what you
   ers that we spoke to emphasized the following            want is commitment.”
   key leadership elements in any change effort:

            Articulate the plan
            Work the plan                                            “Make sure you pick
            Be a genuine team player                                  the right leadership
            Face bad news
                                                                      to lead that change”
       The leaders we spoke to emphasized what
   they saw as critical leadership qualities in manag-
   ing organizational transformation.                            Different leaders will have different styles of
                                                            demonstrating passion for their ideas. One leader
   Articulate the plan                                      described his behaviors this way: “I’m pretty re-
                                                            lentless about stuff when I get on it, and I’m a bit
   “[Good leaders] are able to see a system that isn’t      like a pit bull: I don’t let go. So, when you talk
   working, envision a system that can work, and            about making change like this, there has to be a
   articulate a vision for that.”
                                                            constant role of, ‘Hey, I’m not forgetting about
        Moving from chaos to concept is a challenge,        this. I’m not letting go of it until we are where we
   but change leaders must have the ability to ar-          need to be.’”
   ticulate a plan for moving forward. Successful           Make a compelling case
   articulation means that leaders demonstrate pas-             “So, it was hard at first but once you got
   sion for the idea, make their case in a compelling           them to see the tools, to use the tools… I
   way, understand the need to focus on results, and            mean, it worked.”
   insist on measuring outcomes.
                                                                 Once you have articulated the plan, the next
   Be passionate about the change
                                                            step is to make a compelling case to others. Part
       “It has to begin with a leader who is abso-
       lutely passionate about what he or she is            of making that case is a leader’s ability to demon-
       doing. [They have] to have a clear vision            strate the value to all the stakeholders in the or-
       about the future state, and then must work           ganization. Even before a full roll-out of a plan,
       tirelessly to personally communicate that            one strategy for making the case is to do a proto-
       future state.”                                       type or a demonstration project: One leader ex-
                                                            plained, “Theory doesn’t prove it to a lot of peo-
       Leaders have to believe in and be passionate         ple …You actually have to show why you need to
   about what they’re advocating. Participants noted        do this, and it has to come out of a real prototype.
   that organizational members know the difference          ‘If we do this, this is what we get.’”
   between someone who really believes in a change               Besides demonstrating that it works, there
   versus someone who is simply going through the           are other ways to make the case. Research, past
   motions. As one senior manager put it, “You need         experience, and clear knowledge of the market

                                                                         CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM      5
Benchmarking Change Leadership Qualities                                               NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   can all play a role. But the critical issue is that    things so that people can understand how what
   leaders clearly make the case in a way that is per-    they do relates to those goals and objectives.”
   suasive. When asked why a particular auto leader            First, participants noted, you need to under-
   was successful in his turnaround efforts, one ex-      stand what to measure—not always an easy task.
   ecutive said simply: “He’s very straight forward.      Our participants stressed that change leaders
   He makes his case.”                                    need to push for the right measures.
                                                               One Navy officer illustrated the problems of a
   Focus on results
       “There needs to be an obsession about per-         process focus and measuring the wrong things in
       formance of the result produced … The out-         assessing the effectiveness of Lean Six Sigma:
       put is what is important.”                         “[One leader] wants us to tell how many black
                                                          belts we have trained and how many green belts
        Part of clearly articulating a plan, and com-     we have trained, [but] that isn’t really a good
   pelling others to actually follow it, is to focus on   measurement. All you are going to do is drive
   results rather than process. Sometimes, partici-       people to get green belts and black belts. You
   pants noted, a process focus can masquerade as         really need to measure the results of what those
   effective change implementation, but really ob-        black belts and green belts are giving.’”
   scure whether or not the organization is achiev-            One auto executive illustrated the problem
   ing real goals: “It’s real, real easy to get every-    by comparing the cost difference between the
   body to focus on strategies, like ‘Man, oh man. I’m    salary of an American and an offshore engineer.
   working like heck on the strategies.’ But it’s not     While the initial costs may seem lower for the
   driving results.”                                      offshore engineer, it may be that the work takes
        A focus on results is also important to help      longer because the offshore engineer doesn’t
   people to understand the relationship between          have the same skills and experience. So, he ar-
   their actions and particular outcomes. One auto        gued that a better measure was “how much it
   executive said that understanding this relation-       costs to do a product ... independent of labor
   ship is key to organizational alignment: “You have     [and other issues]. You’ve got to have a key
   to align your organization. People within your         measure because you could measure the
   organization have to know that what they do im-        wrong things.”
   pacts the bottom line, or the overall goal of the           A focus on key measures was a common
   organization.”                                         theme among participants. One auto industry
        Once people understand that relationship,         executive offered this example: “It’s very impor-
   sometimes a focus on results encourages higher         tant to take a look at a key efficiency measure ...
   performance. A senior manager shared that:             We use what we call Strategic Units of Work
   “Everybody just did good enough because they           (SUW), that’s how much it takes to do an engi-
   thought good enough was okay; nobody had ever          neering task … And then we’ve got budget dollars.
   asked for more. And once somebody asked for            We simply go and divide the two, and what you
   more, we started getting more, almost immedi-          do is you get Dollars/SUW.” Naval Aviation also
   ately.”                                                attributes its success to a key measure: “Naval
        As a leader draws on results to articulate the    Aviation was successful … and I feel really
   plan, the final component of a compelling case is      strongly about this … because of a single, fleet-
   an insistence on measuring outcomes.                   driven metric of Aircraft Ready for Tasking, at
                                                          reduced cost.” Both of these examples illustrate
   Measure outcomes
       “Put very simply … create a performance
                                                          the power of a key measure, one that everyone
       environment that ties everything to opera-         understands, in order to drive the business.
       tional results.”                                        Key measures also prevent an organization
                                                          from looking at too many measures: “[Good lead-
       Good leaders create measures and metrics           ers] look for the key levers that allow you to
   that tie behaviors to outcomes. “You need those        achieve the cost objective. If you lay out a hun-
   good metrics in order to be able to measure those      dred measures, all hundred are not effective.

                                                                      CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM      6
Benchmarking Change Leadership Qualities                                                    NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   There are certain key measures in achieving            tion. What this often means, participants say, is
   where you want to go.”                                 that leaders must be willing to drive change
        However, before they can get good measure-        throughout the organization, take the time to un-
   ments, leaders need a good baseline of the or-         derstand what they’re asking the organization to
                                            ganization.   do, solicit feedback along the way, make minor
                                            As one        adjustments without changing course, and em-
                                            leader put    body the changes in their own behaviors.
              Get “all the                  it, “[You
                                                          Drive Change Deeply
                                            have to]
            dirty laundry …                 have a            “What I look for, frankly, is for people who try
                                                              to drive change. To me that is the absolute,
             on the table”                  much more
                                                              infallible measure of leadership.”
                                            review of          Executing the plan means that leaders drive
                                            the key       the change message consistently and repetitively,
   facts of the business and a process that has the       even relentlessly. A respondent shared an exam-
   management team monitoring and looking at              ple of a good change driver on his leadership
   those [facts] on a very, very frequent basis, so       team: “He doesn’t just administer global engi-
   that you’re always in touch with where the busi-       neering—he is driving change in global engineer-
   ness is going … if you’re on or off track against      ing and he never lets up.”
   whatever your plan might happen to be.”
                                                               Sometimes, good change drivers will person-
        There were several ways participants shared
                                                          ally shepherd a change through until it sticks. In
   for reporting outcomes to the organization. One
                                                          one example, an auto industry executive was
   strategy was having candid, management review
                                                          committed to eliminating faxes in the office and
   meetings on a regular basis. While review meet-
                                                          between dealers, and instead pushed people to
   ings are standard practice in most organizations,
                                                          use email and the company’s dealer website.
   our respondents stressed the need for brutal hon-
                                                          These changes, he said, would increase efficiency
   esty and transparency: “One of the key things to
                                                          and decrease costs. But he hit some resistance
   the success of any program when you want this
                                                          from dealers: “Dealers, traditionally, love to just
   much change is transparency . . . all the dirty
                                                          fax stuff in and out. But why should I fax it to you
   laundry gets put on the table.”
                                                          when it’s on the … website? It was kind of like
        This level of transparency also has the bene-
                                                          tough love, but it got to the point where everyone
   fit of countering potential resistance. As one ex-
                                                          was joking about it. I was so overboard that I’d
   ecutive explained, “We do a business review
                                                          walk by the fax machine several times a day just
   every quarter, after we do our earnings state-
                                                          to make sure that no one was faxing anything.”
   ment. We go through all of the facts of the busi-
                                                          He also shared that once the dealers understood
   ness and we share all the financials with every-
                                                          the benefits of the changes, they adapted.
   body … [and] you can’t argue with the facts.”
                                                               In driving change consistently, leaders also
        Once leaders have articulated a compelling,
                                                          need to uncover obstacles and hold people ac-
   measurable plan, the next step is to fully execute
                                                          countable. One Navy leader was described this
   that plan throughout the organization.
                                                          way: “He asked them, ‘What would make this
   Work the plan                                          work better? What is keeping us from doing this
                                                          better?’ And he took their ideas and said, ‘Okay,
   “You can’t just think you are going to stop at the     that is what we are going to do.’ Then he held
   meeting and say, ‘Okay, now it is going to             them to that ... ‘This is what you wanted. Now
   happen.’ You have to continue to push it down.”        you have to follow this through.’”
        Clearly it is not enough to articulate a plan—         In driving the change, however, leaders need
   good leaders must also be capable of fully execut-     to be clear that they understand what they’re ask-
   ing the plan and permeating the whole organiza-        ing people to do.

                                                                       CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM      7
Benchmarking Change Leadership Qualities                                                NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   Understand the work involved                                  But employees need to believe that their in-
       “You may not have done it [what you’re ask-         put is welcome. One executive used this strategy:
       ing for], but you better understand what it         “I gave them the forum. We met openly at least
       takes. If not, they just, flat out, are not going   twice a week; I’d come in, and all the supervisors
       to follow you.”                                     would come in and they could take all the shots
                                                           they wanted.” Not only did he provide the forum,
         When leaders drive change and execute the
                                                           but he actively welcomed criticisms. Another ex-
   plan, they have to understand the changes they’re
   asking for. “What makes [leaders] so effective is
                                                           shared that
   how well they understand the nuts and bolts of
                                                           these kinds of
   what happens down on the shop floor. When we            forums fos-
   put the boots on the ground, the most effective                             Soliciting feedback
                                                           tered shared
   part was when the sailors got to tell the admiral                              Invite employee
                                                           vision: “And
   what they did with their AIRSpeed tools … and he                                 emails and respond
                                                           we met
   knew their work.”
                                                           pretty much            Interview employees
         Some leaders who work their way up in the         daily, had
   organization will clearly understand the jobs of                                 on a regular basis
   those who work for them. But some simply do             debates,               Allow short meetings
   their homework: “You need to do all due-                learned                  with executives
   diligence. Do the piloting correctly so you know        things to-             Share lunch with em-
   what effect or impact it has on any given situation     gether. In
   before you roll it out corporate-wide … make the                                 ployees periodically
                                                           that process
   corrections so when you roll it out across the                                 Introduce a Problem
                                                           of learning
   board, it’s more readily accepted.”                     together, we             Solving Board
         When leaders don’t thoroughly understand          formed a very          Have open forums
   the feasibility of their changes, tough lessons can     common,                  for candid feedback
   follow. As one leader said, “you don’t want the         consistent,
   organization ripping at each other because the          and bought-
   task you gave them is one they just can’t do.”          into view of
         One way to ensure that leaders know the re-       the end
   alities that exist within the organization is to so-    state.”
   licit feedback.                                               There were other ideas shared about ways to
   Solicit feedback                                        solicit employee feedback. One executive stated
       “You ask them for input ... Then what you see       that his company receives approximately 400
       is they are much more apt to raise their hand       emails a month and that they take some action on
       in my staff meeting and say, ‘not so damn           all of them. Another executive noted the impor-
       fast,’ as opposed to getting run over.”             tance of regularly interviewing and polling em-
                                                           ployees on a variety of issues. Some auto industry
        Part of making sure that the organization          leaders make it a habit to give periodic access to
   doesn’t rip itself apart is for leaders to clearly      those from all levels of the organization for 10-
   understand the impact of their change. The feed-        minute meetings on a variety of topics, and still
   back you get from inside the organization is in-        others made a practice of sitting with rank and
   valuable, our respondents said, for understanding       file employees during lunch in the cafeteria. What
   both constraints and opportunities that exist.          all these methods have in common was a genuine
   One executive consistently encouraged employ-           desire for and valuing of employee input.
   ees to speak up about issues, telling them, “You              The benefit of this feedback, participants
   people know what’s wrong and what needs to be           noted, was that employees tend to have good
   fixed far better than we do at the top because you      ideas and, many times, valid concerns. Addition-
   see the waste.”                                         ally, when leaders respond to those concerns,

                                                                       CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM     8
Benchmarking Change Leadership Qualities                                                      NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   employees can be more motivated to speak up               “not chiseled in stone [but] molded in clay. If we
   the next time.                                            find that there is something we can do differently
        For example, in Naval Aviation, one success-         or better, then we will make an adjustment.” Part
   ful change leader noted the value of not only             of this ability to accept helpful feedback means
   hearing the concerns of the folks on the shop             not being “too in love with your own plan” and
                                          floor, but ac-     leaving room for necessary adjustments along the
                                          tively ad-         way.
         Leaders have to                  dressing                On the other hand, participants said, it’s im-
                                          them. He re-       portant that leaders not abandon the plan alto-
             embody the                   called that he     gether. Once a plan has been well articulated,
        change behaviors took notes on    their concerns
                                                             then it needs to stay consistent; otherwise, the
                                                             organization gets confused and change-weary.
            and attitudes                 and that they      “You have to pick a horse and ride it. Once you
                                          noticed: “as       have picked the horse, then you can get into a
            in everything                 we went            continual improvement mode. You can’t argue
                                          through our        over which horse to ride forever—there may be
                 they do.                 process im-        only 5-10 percent performance difference be-
                                          provements, I      tween them. You have to pick the horse, get eve-
   incorporated as many of those things I felt were          rybody on plan, [and] then you can improve the
   legitimate … and I know they realized that as they        horse that you are riding.”
   got down the track.”
                                                             Walk the walk
        On the other hand, if you ask for input and
                                                                 “People will listen to the words but they’ll
   ignore it, the motivation for changing behavior               watch the person. If they feel like they're
   can drop dramatically: “We don’t want to have                 getting manipulated, they’ll turn off quicker
   folks going, ‘Okay, I gave you these ideas. What              than you can shake a stick at them.”
   happened to them? I’m still having a problem
   with this red tape. I’m still here late. You’re not            Leaders who execute change plans need to
   helping me here. Therefore, [the changes] must            behave consistent with what they’re promoting.
   not work.’” One manager shared that it’s often            This means, according to our participants, that
   just important to listen: “Let them have input and        leaders embody change behaviors and attitudes
   be willing, if nothing else, to let them complain.        in everything they do.
   Because, if you make the mistake of saying,                    One executive stressed the importance of
   ‘That's it, I don’t give a shit, go away,’ they will go   attitude: “If you walk in with your shoulders
   away, they may not come back.”                            slumped and ‘Woe is me,’ I’ll show you an organi-
        Valuable input can come from a variety of            zation that acts the same way.”
   sources. One auto executive, for example, noted                Instead, our respondents suggested, leaders
   the need for creative versus solely quantitative          need to demonstrate the attitudes they want to
   input in the auto industry, stressing that the in-        see in their organizations: “You have to set the
   dustry isn’t all about numbers: “You must pay             example,” one senior manager said, “because they
   attention and really respect [creative] opinions,”        watch you. They watch you. And they will do
   he said. “An automobile is not about transporta-          what you do.”
   tion. It’s about styling, brand, emotion, pride of             Not only does this example need to be set in
   ownership … the data people will not get you              formal meetings and public arenas, but in every-
   there.”                                                   day interactions as well. As one executive put it,
        Sometimes in the course executing the                “I use every opportunity, whether it is a
   change, various forms of input may lead to neces-         town-hall meeting with 800 people, or a smaller
   sary adjustments in the plan. For example, one            meeting, or just an interaction in the hallway, to
   executive encouraged feedback to his plan, and            reinforce the behaviors that I’d like to see in the
   he characterized new process improvements as              rest of the organization.”

                                                                          CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM     9
Benchmarking Change Leadership Qualities                                                    NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

        Being an example is tough, participants said,      cautioned against “shooting like a cowboy” and
   because “the hardest thing to do as a manager is        emphasized that leaders need to trust, respect,
   to maintain your own standards.” However, those         and support the people who work for them.
   who live and embody the principles of their own              First, participants said, that means choosing
   plan, even in small ways, inspire others in the         the right people for the job and then trusting
   organization: “If we don't demonstrate the behav-       their ability to do it. As one leader put it, “If you
   iors, there’s no credibility in terms of telling the    put someone in charge that you don’t completely
   organization that we need to change.”                   trust, then why are you putting them in charge? I
        At least two key admirals in Naval Aviation,       put my trust in those folks that I assigned to lead
   for example, completed the same Lean Six Sigma          the change throughout the organization and they
   training that they were promoting for the larger        knew that.”
   organization. As one Navy officer noted, “The                Beyond simply giving your team trust, our
   admiral did his green belt project, which               participants also asserted that leaders need to
   was a time-intensive thing, and that sent a             give them the necessary authority to get the job
   great message.” On the other hand, if leadership        done. One successful change deployment cham-
   doesn’t live their plan, the larger organization        pion in Naval Aviation put it this way: “If you’re
   will pick up on it. One senior Navy civilian noted      going to call them a deployment champion, sup-
   that “The first thing that they [the workforce] are     port them, and give them the ability to get things
   going to look at is the top of the organization. “We    done. Support is like effective delegation; you can
   hear you saying these things, but are you living        give me the assignment, give me the authority to
   them, are you going to support them or are they         do it, and hold me accountable and responsible
   the latest fad?”                                        for it. If you withhold any of those three, I’m going
        In order to be effective in working the plan,      to fail and you set me up to do so.”
   however, leaders need to be genuine team play-
   ers.                                                    Mold consensus
                                                               “By looking at facts, data, debating other
                                                               people’s viewpoints, you collectively set the
   Be a genuine team player                                    course.”
   “Whenever you try and change an organization, if
   you think as an individual you’re just going to go in        Part of balancing the leader’s direction and
   there and start shooting like a cowboy and              the team’s input is molding consensus without
   everybody’s going to listen to you, you’re deadly       abdicating authority. One executive summed it up
   wrong.”                                                 by saying: “As we debate things it will be a par-
                                                           ticipatory process but not necessarily a democ-
       Our participants noted that being a team            ratic one.”
   player must move beyond platitudes: Leaders                  This balance can be tricky, participants said,
   need to build trust and mold consensus, share           but good leaders understand the need to simulta-
   credit, become visible throughout their organiza-       neously provide direction, draw on the collective
   tion, and strongly engage with the communica-           wisdom of the group, and mold consensus
   tions experts.                                          throughout the organization: “that doesn’t mean
   Trust and support your people                           you become a searcher for consensus, you have to
        “What’s really hard to do is get [leaders] to      be a molder of consensus, and then your manage-
        listen and to recognize that, yeah, these folks    ment team has to be a molder of consensus with
        really do know what they’re doing.”                the rest of the organization.”
                                                                In hierarchical organizations, this level of
       For our participants, being a genuine team          collaboration can be difficult, but important: “Just
   player means creating the space for honest infor-       because you’re carrying a rank doesn’t mean
   mation exchange. There is a balance to strike be-       you’ve got the right answer. You may have had a
   tween a leader’s need to direct change efforts and      lot of different experiences, you’ve got every right
   the need to solicit help. Our participants strongly     to weigh in and the ultimate decision is yours, but

                                                                      CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM         10
Benchmarking Change Leadership Qualities                                                 NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   that doesn't mean you've got everything right.”
   Another respondent put it this way: “You better
   be willing to get off your high horse and go to the       Stories from the trenches
   people who really do it. Don’t get so caught up in
   the chain of command or other stuff that you                      Boots on the Ground
   don’t listen.”
                                                                 Naval Aviation leadership gets visible
   Share credit                                             by getting their “Boots on the Ground.”
       “Even if I come up with an idea, I don’t tell        During these monthly visits, about 30 high
       anybody it’s my idea. I give credit to some-         ranking military officers and government
       body else.”                                          civilians will tour different duty stations to
                                                            get a firsthand look at how sailors are im-
        When people give input, they gain ownership,        plementing Enterprise changes. These big
   which stimulates employee buy-in to the ideas.           brass visitors not only get to see what’s
   Because of this, participants said sharing credit        working, but they hear about problems and
   for good ideas is both ethical and strategically         can often solve them on the spot.
                                                                 While the events themselves are note-
        One auto industry executive went so far as to
                                                            worthy, there’s one particular admiral who
   seldom take credit for anything, reasoning that
                                                            creates special connections with the sailors
   few things came solely from him and morale de-
                                                            on the shop floor. After a sailor reports on
   pended on shared acknowledgement and owner-
                                                            his duty area, the visitors move on as a
   ship: “Here inside the organization, if I come up
                                                            group to the next station, but the admiral
   with an idea, I’m not going to take credit for it. I’m
                                                            may hang back, chatting with the sailor for
   going to give it to someone in the marketing de-
                                                            a few more minutes. As a way to show his
   partment, someone in the distribution group,
                                                            appreciation, the admiral will shake the
   someone in the field organization; someone else
                                                            sailor’s hand. But in that handshake, the
   is going to get credit for it because, if it comes
                                                            admiral palms a Navy gold coin, which he
   from me, that’s just me telling everyone what to
                                                            passes to the sailor—an exchange few see
   do. That doesn’t work. And I don’t want it to work
                                                            but the two of them.
   that way.”
        The idea of sharing credit may seem counter-             During our research, we were fortu-
   intuitive in organizations that are, by nature,          nate enough to watch a few of these ex-
   competitive, but one Navy admiral suggested that         changes, observing the power of the con-
   the overemphasis on individual accomplishment            nection between an admiral and an
   is an attitude he felt needed to be eliminated: “We      enlisted sailor. We caught up with one of
   are taught in the Navy since the time we got in to       those sailors following one of these ex-
   optimize your activity at the expense of all others.     changes, asking him what that coin meant
   We are taught that behavior. But I believe that          for him. He said, beaming, “Pride. There’s a
   ego, certainly a mature ego that only cares about        lot of reasons to come to work—to serve
   self, must be eliminated and fired from the Navy.        my country, to do a good job—but it’s also
   The Navy rewards that behavior even today.”              about the satisfaction that comes from
                                                            knowing my work is recognized.”
   Be visible                                                    When we asked the admiral why
       “People, especially in a large organization,
                                                            he didn’t make the recognition more
       respond to visible, emotional, and highly
                                                            public, he said simply: “I just think it’s
       communicative leadership.”
                                                            important that they know the boss
        Genuine team players are highly visible and         appreciates their work.”
   get down into the depths of the organization. Par-            Looks like a mission accomplished.
   ticipants noted that being visible affects how
   leaders are perceived by the organization. One

                                                                      CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM   11
Benchmarking Change Leadership Qualities                                                        NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   respondent put it this way: “[Leaders] have to             effective to understanding how people are really
   remain visibly engaged the entire time. Don’t just         perceiving the changes.
   say all right, go forth and do this … You have to
   stay visible with it. Walk down to the floor level         Heed Communications Experts
   within industry. Whatever it is, they have to go                “PR is the social conscience of your company
   down.”                                                          or your organization and they have to have
                                                                   the leeway to tell the CEO, ‘This is bull. You
         Being visible is also critical for ensuring that
                                                                   can’t do this. This is how it’s going to play.’”
   the organization understands the vision or mes-
   sage of the change. For example, one senior auto
                                                                   Given the importance of communication in
   industry executive shared that in attempting to
                                                              any change effort, participants emphasized the
   get dealer buy-in, he had to go tell the story per-
                                                              role of public relations as particularly important
   sonally: “We set out to have regional dealer meet-
                                                              to change leaders. One executive called PR the
   ings, and we touched every dealer and general
                                                              “social conscience” of the company, and another
   manager in every region. We did a several hour
                                                              noted the increasing importance of “reputation
   presentation where we told the story, a really
                                                              management” for organizations. Public Relations
   great story that they could understand, and I
                                                              is so important, one executive argued, that it
   think we really got them to buy in.”
                                                              needs to be a C-level position that would be called
         Interacting with the organization often
                                                                                            the “Chief Reputation Offi-
   means long hours and
                                                                                            cer.” He argued that this
   heavy travel schedules.
                                                                                            person should “have a seat
   One auto executive esti-
   mated that he spent 60-             “Tell the King when he’s naked at the table at the highest
   70% of his time on the
   road visiting auto plants              and [be] willing to have the                          One part of managing a
                                                                                            company’s reputation is
   and dealers, and a Navy                        guts to do that.”                         managing its relationship
   admiral noted that he
                                                                                            to the media. Good lead-
   spent upwards of 80% of
                                                                                            ers, our participants say,
   his time traveling to push
                                                                                            treat the media as part of
   change through his organization. These efforts,
                                                              their team: “The good [leaders] don’t say, ‘Oh,
   however, are critical in creating personal connec-
                                                              God I hate the media, they’re evil.’ They’re [more
   tions throughout the Enterprise.
                                                              likely to say], ‘I’ve got to work with the media,
         An auto executive told a story about creating
                                                              they’re a conduit to my audience, and I don’t nec-
   such connections during a meeting at one of his
                                                              essarily have to like them all the time, but I re-
   plants in another country: “I went down a couple
                                                              spect what they do. I don’t treat them as an ad-
   days early and played golf … drank some beer,
   learned more about cricket than I ever wanted to
   know … You just have to pay attention to that                   Those who treat the media as adversaries do
   stuff.”                                                    so at their peril, said one PR executive:
         Another reason for getting down on the               “[Previously] we didn’t want to be in the press.
   ground level, participants say, is to learn things         And what that resulted in was the company being
   first-hand that you can’t learn any other way. As          loathed by the media because we were distant,
   one Navy officer put it, “I would go down to the           we weren’t accessible, we were sitting there be-
   ground floor, in the hanger bay smoke shack, and           hind this wall [as] this unapproachable, inhuman
   listen to the troops and see what they thought …           enterprise.”
   I’d walk up [and say] ‘Hey, what do you think of                Creating and managing your team, as a com-
   this AIRSpeed Stuff?’ They may not have seen me            mitted team player, was a highly valued leader-
   in one of the briefings. [They’d say] ‘Oh, this is         ship quality according to our participants. Part of
   pretty cool,’ or ‘You know, my boss doesn’t like           being a team player, however, is that your team
   it.’” Such casual conversations can be far more            will sometimes tell you bad news—our partici-

                                                                             CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM         12
Benchmarking Change Leadership Qualities                                                 NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   pants stressed that good leaders need to be will-      revealing the urgencies for what they are enable
   ing to hear it.                                        the organization to face them head on.
                                                               For example, one executive shared how can-
   Face bad news                                          dor was particularly encouraged in their manage-
                                                          ment meetings: “I happen to think we’ve got a
   “Tell the King when he’s naked and [be] willing to
   have the guts to do that.”
                                                          great leadership team … it’s easy to get a bit cen-
                                                          tric, lining up with the boss rather than [saying],
        Part of being a leader, in the view of our par-   ‘Hey, here’s the way it really is.’ And I’m going to
   ticipants, is the willingness to deal with bad news,   tell you what, in this room right here, we have
   understand the urgencies that result, use those        some pretty candid discussions, and that’s impor-
   urgencies to motivate the organization, and com-       tant in this whole thing.”
   mit to solving problems as they come up.                    When motivating people to change, it is im-
   Deal with reality                                      portant to be forthright about the reality of the
       “You have to recognize the reality of the          situation. As one respondent said, “I’m pretty
       situation that you’re facing.”                     blunt with people in saying this mantra of ‘change
                                                          or die’ because I basically told them, ‘Listen,
         In a changing environment, not all the news      there’s not going
   is going to be good. What we found in our inter-       to be another one
   views was that good change leaders not only ac-        of me here in a
   cepted bad news, but actively welcomed it. Con-        year. There might
   sequently, good leaders were described as those        not be a company             seriousness and
   who created environments where it was safe to          in a year.”
   tell the truth. As a manager put it, one influential        So, respon-               urgency with
   leader in his organization was “creating a safe        dents said, em-
   environment in which you can actually talk about       ployees need to
                                                                                            hope and
   things … where people won’t feel afraid to bring       understand the                   inspiration
   forward bad news.”                                     true picture of the
         While it still won’t always be easy for em-      situation and why
   ployees to be candid, our participants said that       the changes are necessary: “We have to make
   the leader can inspire people to take that risk        these changes or we will not survive as an enter-
   knowing that their heads won’t be cut off in the       prise. We will not survive, we will not be success-
   process. This openness was noted as particularly       ful, we will not be meeting the needs of our em-
   important in hierarchical organizations and turn-      ployees, our customer, our shareholders. So, we
   around efforts, similar to that which the Navy is      don’t have a choice.”
   undergoing. That openness, participants say, can            Balanced with that fear, however, the organi-
   pay off: “I’m starting to see a willingness of peo-    zation also needs to deliver inspiration: “They’re
   ple to say we’ve got a problem.”                       really happy with the amount [of information]
                                                          we’re giving them, but the more they know, the
   Use urgency as a motivator
        “Bad news is okay here for one reason . . .
                                                          more frightened they are about the future … you
       [that is] in the context of a potentially bank-    have to first really jolt people to get them to un-
       rupt automobile company.”                          derstand the seriousness of this and then balance
                                                          it with some hope.”
        Leaders who welcome bad news uncover                   Part of the way to get at that hope is through
   urgenciesproblems that are likely affecting or-       emotional appeals: “You have to get people emo-
   ganizational effectiveness. When a company is          tionally engaged, involved and wanting to take
   facing bankruptcy, for example, soliciting the         the trip. It’s difficult, it’s hard, and it’s painful.
   truth can be important for a company’s survival.       [So], get them charged up and emotionally en-
   In government organizations, the crises may be         gaged in what you’re trying to do [because] it’s
   different, but just as important. In both cases,       hard to do it coldly, analytically, rationally.”

                                                                     CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM          13
Benchmarking Change Delivery Strategies                                                    NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

       Laying bare the reality of the situation en-       was the matter? How can I help?’ After about
   ables leaders to see the problems more clearly.        three go-rounds of this … then fire them.”
   Support problem solving
       “If any issues came up in the plants, they
                                                          Delivery Strategies
       could be resolved at the meeting at a high              At the heart of any change effort is the effec-
       level.”                                            tiveness of the message. In our interviews, par-
        In a change culture, problems not only need       ticipants described a variety of message delivery
   to be raised and understood, but solved. As one        strategies that helped or hindered their efforts at
                                                          organizational transformation:
   Navy participant advised, “The best thing that the
   Enterprise could do is advertise all the tools that
                                                                  Be honest and open
   they offer to everyone in order to make them suc-
   cessful … If you have an issue, bring it up. We are            Cut to the chase
   here to help. That should be their slogan: ‘We                 Adapt your message
   are here to help.’ Who’s going to turn down
   help?”                                                 Be honest and open
        Both the Navy and the auto companies pro-         “We just said, ‘All right guys. We made a mistake.
   vided examples of how they offered on-the-spot         We hired a company that didn’t do what they told
   help. One senior manager said he consistently          us they were going to do. We got rid of them. And
   pushed people to identify their needs: “We had         we’ve heard you. Here’s the things that you said
   weekly meetings, and we would literally call peo-      we should be doing, and we’re going to switch
   ple right there in that meeting and, with every-       back to those things.’”
   body sitting in the room we’d say, ‘Tell us what           In communicating change efforts, it’s impor-
   you need.’”                                            tant for organizations to tell the truth, even the
        By forcing problems to the forefront, they can    ugly side, about the current situation. However,
   be addressed. Sometimes, the employees them-           there are good and bad ways to be honestto
   selves are in the best position to fix things, pro-    have the best impact on people, it’s important to
   vided that they get support to do so from man-         pay attention to how you communicate, to recog-
   agement.                                               nize the importance of face-to-face interactions,
        In one example, there was a particular part—      and to make sure what you communicate has in-
   a braided sock that allowed another part to be         tegrity.
   put in a car more easily—that was pulled from
   the auto assembly line because each sock was           Tell the truth
   costing $3 per car. The engineers objected to its           The importance of telling the truth came up
   removal, but the cost was too big of an issue. So,     repeatedly from our respondents, especially in
   they proposed an alternative: “They came up with       turnaround efforts. One hurdle companies face is
   an idea of using a portable sock … they put it on      change fatigue, one executive said, and that’s
   the harness to do the job, and then you take it off    something his company had to face head on: “first
   and recycle it. We saved $3 a car. So, it started as   off you just have to acknowledge it to the
   a flat out ‘no,’ but the employees wouldn’t let        organization: ‘I know there’s been lots of
   go—they kept pushing, and in the end we got an         strategies around here.’ By acknowledging it you
   answer that was good for everybody.”                   say ‘we get it.’”
        A commitment to solving problems doesn’t               Another respondent shared that telling the
   mean an endless toleration for pervasive or re-        truth was critical in his turnaround efforts. He
   peated mistakes or challenges. One leader shared       said that once everybody understood the expec-
   his philosophy: “If they don’t produce on the plan,    tation, “I could look them in the eye and say ‘this
   then you can have a conversation. ‘Okay, what          thing isn’t worth a damn,’” which allowed him to
   happened? Did you run into this problem? What          fix problems quickly.

                                                                      CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM       14
Benchmarking Change Delivery Strategies                                                      NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

        Employees tend not only to expect the truth,           that gets identified as a way of communicat-
   but they also appreciate it. One senior manager             ing with your workforce—for creating
   recounted that “the feedback that we got from               change, the most effective way is face-to-
   this last meeting was extremely positive about              face: it’s more credible, it’s more in-depth,
   the facts that we showed, the way we communi-               it’s more informative, it’s more likely to be
                                                               listened to, they’re more attentive to it, and
   cated, the openness, and the candor.” One execu-
                                                               they receive the message much better.”
   tive said that it goes beyond appreciation: em-
   ployees demand it: “You have to be totally and
                                                                Face-to-face communication can be espe-
   blatantly honest. There is no room in today’s
   world for [lying] … They’ll find out if you’re lying.   cially important when there are organizational
   Your inside and outside constituents accept noth-       changes in play.
   ing less.”                                                   In many cases, face-to-face interactions were
        It’s clear from our respondents that it’s not      simply more productive than other forms of com-
   enough to lay out brutal facts, you’ve got to pay       munication. One executive described himself as “a
   attention to how you communicate them.                  big student of body language,” and therefore
                                                           found personal contact to be instructive: “if some-
   Make communication a priority                           body’s sitting [in a certain way], you know you’re
       “He understood very early the importance of         not getting real buy-in … in those one-on-ones,
       communication. He does it through one-on-           you can ferret out pretty quickly whether some-
       ones, small group meetings, large manage-
                                                           one is walk-
       ment meetings, and communicating on all
                                                           ing the walk
       sorts of things.”
                                                           or just giv-
       One of the important issues in being open           ing you lip         Benefits of Face-to-Face
   and honest with employees is an awareness that          service.”
   communication matters. One executive was so                  Another
   clear on this point that he saw communication as        respondent             More credible
   absolutely fundamental to his job: “To be quite         said that              More in-depth
   honest, I could put it very simply and say 100% of      only through           More informative
   my time is communicating because everything             face-to-face           Grabs attention
   that I do and say somebody’s looking at.”               communica-             More persuasive
       Change leaders at all levels need to be aware       tion can you
                                                                                  More revealing
   of what they’re communicating by both words             “really hear
   and actions. For example, one respondent shared,        what they              Clearer
   “[Some people] are capable of carrying on a con-        are saying.            Greater feedback
   versation and reading their Blackberry … [but] if       Body lan-              Better connection
   you are the person sitting across from them, the        guage is
   signal you’re getting is ‘I am not very important.’”    sometimes
       Effective change leaders communicate well           clearer than
   both by what they say and do: “There are some           the written
   people who have the ability to show that they are       word.”
   sincere and that they care about communications.             In one example, a participant said that face-to
   That they are interested.”                              -face interaction can be persuasive: “I used to be
       One lesson that our respondents learned in          famous for my walk-and-talk. With certain people
   over the course of many change efforts was the          that you want to sway, you deal with them per-
   power of face-to-face interaction.                      sonally … a lot of things can get done if you’re
   Communicate face-to-face                                trying to address things like that.” His example is
       “Regardless of all the technology and all of        common among several that illustrated how peo-
       the other stuff—the e-mails and the e-              ple simply respond better to personal, face-to-
       newsletters and the blogs and everything else       face interaction.

                                                                      CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM        15
Benchmarking Change Delivery Strategies                                                NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

        Participants also said that leaders especially    communicate one thing and do something en-
   need to communicate in person during times of          tirely different. That only lasts for a very short
   sweeping organizational transformation: “I am          period of time before people find you out.”
   not talking about emailing and phone confer-                 In one example, an organization experienced
   ences, I am talking about face-to-face                 a credibility hit because they tried to communi-
   [communication] to help pull the organization          cate too much, too soon: “They tried to go out
   through this. Whoever the key leaders are, they        very quickly and target everybody, ‘Here’s what
   have to have a lot of eyeball-to-eyeball interac-      it’s all about.’ At the same time, they were chang-
   tion with the people around the world.”                ing things and, therefore, were perceived as being
        Additionally, leaders and managers need to        dishonest—which wasn’t true, but they were so
   recognize the power of one-on-one interaction in
   the daily course of introducing changes. In one
   case, a company was offering buyouts to employ-               “You have to be totally
   ees, but not getting much response. In one study
   the company conducted, they found that “people                and blatantly honest …
   who got a face-to-face chat with either their man-
   ager or a financial planner were much more
                                                                 Your inside and outside
   likely, by a significant amount” to take the buyout             constituents accept
   because they were able to ask questions, share
   fears, and get feedback.                                           nothing less.”
        Importantly, according to respondents, one-
   to-many presentations don’t substitute for more
   personal interaction. One executive was having a       continually changing that they lost credibility.”
   hard time helping dealers understand the value of           One person described it as message integrity:
   a new change initiative, even though the company       “You have to just keep hammering an elevator
   had given several large presentations on the is-       speech, [but] you have to make sure the elevator
   sue. He took a different course of action with one     speech has some integrity to it.”
   of the regional dealer leaders: “I fly to Minnesota,        One of the ways to build that integrity was
   sit down with him and go through what [the             ensuring that the communication matched the
   change] is all about. Halfway through the conver-      actions: “It has to be a deeds and words. Not or.
   sation he goes, ‘Wow. I get it now. The light bulb     It has to be both.”
   just went off.’”                                            Our participants said that employees in or-
        In describing why face-to-face is so much         ganizations watch what people do more than
   more powerful, one executive said simply: “face-       what they say. One Navy officer shared his ex-
   to-face makes it real and allows people to start       perience: “It sent a huge signal to me and my
   dealing with [the changes].”                           command when the Navy invested money to send
        Regardless of the medium, however, commu-         professional consultants to my site … I am sure
   nication has to be authentic.                          that these guys are not cheap, but they are smart,
                                                          they are professional, they know what they are
   Walk the talk                                          talking about, they have a good rapport with my
       “The most major problem that you ever have
                                                          troops. That told me, ‘we are serious about this.’”
       is when the reality doesn’t match up with the
       communication and the hype.”                            One positive consequence of matching “deeds
                                                          with words” is that employees begin to perceive
        In order for open and honest communication        individual people as credible. This is important,
   to have an effect, messages must be aligned with       participants said, in order for change agents to
   what the organization is actually doing because        have influence in the organization: “You better
   people are extremely perceptive: “They [one or-        build credibility with them. When you tell them
   ganization] thought they were smart enough to          you can do something, [make sure] that you in-

                                                                    CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM        16
Benchmarking Change Delivery Strategies                                                 NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   deed can do it because once you lose that credi-
   bility, getting it back is almost impossible.”
        Once you have credible people within the             Stories from the trenches
   organization, they can work effectively to help
   others be more open to changes: “A lot of                    The Problem Solving Board
   [overcoming resistance] is who you bring to the
   table ... make sure those folks are the voices that          An auto industry engineering group had
   [employees] are hearing and that they don’t feel        an idea for changing “the culture in manage-
   like they’re being sold a product.”                     ment from one of command and control to
        Being honest and open in communication,            coaching, guiding, assisting, and removing
   and paying attention to how the message gets            roadblocks.” They came up with the “Problem
   communicated, were both important aspects to            Solving Board,” a whiteboard on wheels on
   communicating changes within organizations.             the shop floor. They invited employees to
        Another issue that participants touched on         write down problems and assign someone
   was the need to be clear, to get to the point in a      themselves to be responsible for correcting
   way that audiences can truly understand.                the issue. It didn’t take long for employees to
                                                           see problems begin to go away and realize
   Cut to the chase                                        that they had a true voice in the workplace.
                                                                “The problem solving board broke the
   “I feel like I’m in the kindergarten class where the
                                                           whole thing open,” one executive said. “When
   teacher puts everybody in a single file line, and I
                                                           we did that, and gave people a voice and a
   whisper it in the ear of the first person. And that
   person has to tell the next person, and it goes
                                                           chance to write down what the issue was …
   down the line. And the kid at the end of the line       They went from being anonymous to putting
   has to say what the teacher says, and it comes out      up a problem, putting their name on it and
   completely different than it started.”                  why they asked for it, and assigning someone
                                                           themselves who had the responsibility to cor-
        Participants widely agreed that messages           rect it … and then watching people follow up
   needed to be highly accessible to audiences, par-       and seeing problems go away.”
   ticularly when communicating changes. Specifi-               Giving employees this kind of voice has
   cally, it is critical to build understanding and per-   made a huge difference in how problems got
   suade others by providing and repeating simple,
                                                           solved. Now, using a relatively simple yet
   concise, and consistent messages that use con-          powerful method, employees had a way to
   crete, transparent data. Additionally, participants     take action.
   cautioned that messages need to be delivered
   promptly.                                                    In one case, some hourly guys found that
                                                           some parts didn’t work together well, and
   Build a shared understanding                            they put the problem up on the board with an
       “Communication is education. Not just get-          engineer’s name attached to it. “The engineer
       ting the word out, but making sure people           got all flustered” about the problem, the ex-
       understand what it is all about.”                   ecutive explained, “and the [hourly] guy says,
                                                           ‘Well, here, you try it. Show me how to do
       According to participants, one mistake peo-         this.’” In that moment, the engineer really
   ple make is assuming the employees’ level of un-        understood the problem firsthand, and the
   derstanding matches that of the change leader’s:        organization as a whole began to realize what
   “Often times we think, ‘well I understand it, so        it meant to empower employees to speak up.
   everyone understands it.’ [But] the reason why               The executive said the employees needed
   everyone is asking ‘what is the plan?’ is because
                                                           to be engaged in the solution: “When they
   they don’t understand it. I don’t care how much
                                                           took ownership, that changed everything.”
   you believe you have done a great job of articulat-

                                                                     CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM    17
Benchmarking Change Delivery Strategies                                                     NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   ing it. If everyone is feeding back to you that you         People have short attention spans, and many
   haven’t, then you haven’t.”                             of our communications managers clearly under-
        To cope with that challenge, one respondent        stood the constraints of that: “When I communi-
   shared that she always had to remember “the             cate something on paper or PowerPoint brief, I
   journey that I had to go on to understand some-         only have their attention for three sentences,
   thing. I had no idea why ‘cost-measured readi-          three slides.”
   ness’ was important. I can never assume that my
   audience member will know that.”
        One way to build shared understanding is to
   be as clear as possible.                                           “You have to be
   Be clear                                                         crystal clear on the
       “You have to have a vision, but you have to
       have clarity around that vision.”                          benefits of the change”
        To get clarity, messages need to be simple.
   One respondent shared that simplicity was key to
   one leaders getting buy-in: “He made things sim-             Understanding that attention span means
   pler. He made it very easy to understand what           making significant adjustments in communicating
   was going on.” Changes may seem complicated,            the messages. One example related to PowerPoint
   but change messages shouldn’t be: “[The mes-            slides: “Over the past year, we have simplified the
   sage] can’t be a one or two page document that’s        key slides a great deal; they’re down to eight from
   dense.”                                                 a 52-slide deck [and have] much better take-away
        Change agents who can refine their messages        levels and communication with employees.”
   are simply more effective communicators: “He’s               Another participant noted how his organiza-
   starting to articulate the vision. It’s very simple.    tion was using shorter email messages: “I always
   It’s 4 steps. And he’s got a nice little graphic that   love the emails that are a page and a half long,
   helps him explain that.” By keeping the vision          and they wonder why people didn’t get the mes-
   simple, he explained, people can get their heads        sage.” One company realized it had to revamp its
   around it.                                              project management process to make it more
        Another quality of clear messages is that they     concise: “We had project management bullets up
   are concise. One participant said simply, “One          on every wall in the first plant we did. There
   thing we know when we are announcing change,            were, like, 1400 elements to get this thing done.
   we have to be really concise.”                          And I said, ‘That’s crazy.’”
        It’s tempting to think that more detail gener-          Making things concise, while challenging, is
   ates more understanding. However, in the experi-        critical. The next step, participants say, is to beat
   ence of our participants, too much detail prevents      the drum consistently with those messages.
   people from getting what the change is all about.       Be consistent
   Often, leaders need to be pushed, hard in some              “Another priority is consistency because if
   cases, to make their change messages more di-               you’re bouncing around all over the place
   gestible. One participant shared his experience in          and changing, it confuses the organization.”
   pushing leaders to streamline the focus for the
   company: “There were, like, 28 things [to focus             Variation on message confuses people, and
   on]. All these senior leaders said [those things]       many of our respondents said that change efforts
   were all core to turning the company around.            must strive for consistency. Basically, one partici-
   Most people can’t remember what they had for            pant said, “You have to have one message and it
   lunch today let alone 28 things they’re supposed        has to be the same to everybody.”
   to focus on. I needed to get us down to two or              In some cases, that means being consistent
   three things that are memorable and stick with          from one day to the next: “You have to be
   them for a while.”                                      consistent in the elements that you’re talking

                                                                      CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM         18
Benchmarking Change Delivery Strategies                                                      NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   about. You have to leave yourself some flexibility      something else comes in to us … [but] other peo-
   in case the environment changes, but you can’t          ple aren’t dealing with it as quickly as we are.”
   lose the construct or the framework of what your             Another respondent cautioned that “It isn’t
   strategy is.”                                           like you broadcast a change point one day and
        In other cases, it means striving to get and       then you’re done with it.” One senior manager
   maintain consistency across groups: “You need           offered his belief that one can never repeat a mes-
   consistency between the different groups … what         sage too much: “You can’t over communicate. To
   I’ve worked on here is getting a lot of people in a     me, over communication means they’ve agreed to
   room together to say, ‘What’s the common vision         do whatever you want to do.”
   here?’”                                                      Part of cutting to the chase on change mes-
        Additionally, participants said, internal and      sages means talking about things in concrete
   external messages need to be consistent: “The           rather than ambiguous terms.
   messaging internally and externally needs to            Be concrete
   dovetail. You certainly don’t want to say one               “As a leader, give clear directives to your
   thing externally and another thing internally.”             people. Don’t be wishy-washy.”
        Consistency is difficult, our respondents said,
   especially in large organizations. One participant           Vision language tends toward the abstract,
   asserted that he didn’t see “any organization do-       and participants stressed that change messages
   ing a good job” of it. But several participants         instead need to be very concrete. For example,
   noted that it is a priority for them: “We have been     Naval Aviation attributes much of their success to
   working the past year on more consistent com-           driving toward one concrete metric: “Using a sin-
   munication from the respective engineering lead-        gle fleet-driven metric throughout the Naval Avia-
   ers around the world.”                                  tion enterprise was extremely important in de-
        Closely related to consistency is the need for     scribing the enterprise-wide change.”
   repetition.                                                  But getting concrete isn’t easy, a challenge
                                                           that many of our respondents had experienced in
   Repeat yourself
                                                           their own organizations. One Navy participant
       “Communicate, communicate, communicate
       … give the same speech over and over and            described his situation early on in the change
       over and over again until you’re blue in the        effort: “We didn’t have any clear, identifiable ob-
       face.”                                              jectives that cascaded down from senior leader-
                                                           ship down through the organization.”
         It takes repetition for messages to sink in.           One strategy for getting concrete is to ask
   Have patience, participants said, “It might take a      specific questions: “It became very clear that the
   little while… the first speech isn’t going to do it.”   transformation stuff was not getting communi-
         The second speech probably won’t do it ei-        cated very well. How were people expected to
   ther, and participants offered this advice: “People     make transformation because of a speech about
   need to hear it more than once, and every once in       reducing the cost of readiness or being more ag-
   a while you’ve got to remind them of why you’re         ile? It is a very conceptual idea. One of the things
   doing it.”                                              that I pushed for was the specifics. How do I re-
         Another suggested that “Repetition of mes-        duce the cost of aviation? What are the tools? So
   sage is a key; you can’t just say it once and as-       everything I wrote was focused on how someone
   sume everybody got it.”                                 at the deck plate was supposed to take this giant
         One of the challenges faced by our respon-        concept and apply it in their every day working
   dents is the tendency to move too quickly off           environment.”
   message and onto another: “Tell them and tell                In addition to being concrete in the general
   them and tell them again … We get tired of these        vision, it’s also important for change leaders at all
   messages and we want to move on. We are very            levels to be clear about their specific expecta-
   quick to jump off of message or issue because           tions: “It’s very important when you’re trying to

                                                                       CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM        19
Benchmarking Change Delivery Strategies                                                    NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   change an organization that you communicate            jectively, and you show competitive data, usually
   your priorities. If you don’t do that, then the or-    that’s enough.”
   ganization is trying to figure out who this person          One benefit of using concrete data to
   is, what their agenda is, and you lose a tremen-       communicate changes is that it creates a clear
   dous amount of time on that.”                          picture of the change effort. That picture, partici-
        Several participants had to learn this the        pants say, provides a transparent view of what
   hard way, but shared their experience for getting      the change is about.
   more concrete about expectations: “We sat down
                                                          Be transparent
   at the beginning of the year as a team, and we
                                                              “The best advice for Sea Enterprise is to be as
   went through what the objectives were for the              transparent as possible.”
   program. And they were very clear. There was no
   misunderstanding where anybody stood.”                      One component of cutting to the chase is to
        One important way to get more concrete is         be transparent—to show the change or transfor-
   through using data, in compelling ways, that           mation in terms of “how everything fits] together,
   make sense to the audience.                            graphically displayed, in the organization.”
   Use data persuasively                                       This issue of transparency, participants said,
       “Where we’ve made some progress is just            was important for gaining buy-in:
       with hard-core data.”                                   “The best advice for SEA Enterprise is to be
                                                          as transparent as possible. The point of contacts,
        Data, used well, can be extremely persuasive.     how is the enterprise structured, where to go for
   One participant shared how he used data to over-       information. That can all be housed on a secure
   come resistance: “there’s a lot of resistance to [a    website. There is no reason that this information
   new initiative] in the traditional markets. Where      should be hidden from your customers, and I
   we’ve made some progress is just with hard-core        think people forget that the deck plate sailor is
   data. We’ve got global surveys now on customer         our customer. We can’t do anything without
   usage of cars ... Objectively presented data is usu-   him.”
   ally the best. Arguments just aren’t very persua-
                                                               In addition to making messages transparent
   sive otherwise.”                                       and clear, it’s also important to get the messages
        Another respondent shared a specific exam-
                                                          out promptly.
   ple of how data overcame initial resistance to
   changes in employee healthcare. In the auto in-        Be prompt
   dustry, one executive explained, employees have            “Communication is a priority, and you don’t
   some of the best healthcare benefits in corporate          want to wait until the change is upon you to
   America. So, when times got tough, healthcare              start communication.”
   was an area that needed to be addressed. Under-
   standably, employees resisted these changes, but            The general consensus was that communicat-
   data helped them understand the reasoning: “We         ing promptly is advisable. As one respondent
   were honest with them; we showed them the cost         said, “People know things will change, but you
   of healthcare [for the company], what it’s like for    can’t wait for a perfect game plan in three months
   the average American, and how it’s most impor-         when a good one is available now and people can
   tant that we keep this company competitive.”           just get started,” and another cautioned, “Don’t
        This example and others demonstrate that          wait until you’re in a crisis mode to start commu-
   sometimes employees resist changes simply be-          nicating.”
   cause they don’t understand the full impact on              One executive noted that his company had
   the organization. Data can really help bridge that     weekly meetings, but that they “try not to wait for
   gap: “Usually there’s an assumption when they          those meetings and [instead] communicate when
   ask for things that they’re an easy thing to incor-    things come out.”
   porate. But when you come back and explain                  In some cases, publicly traded companies are
   what the costs and tradeoffs are, clearly and ob-      prevented by law from releasing certain informa-

                                                                      CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM       20
Benchmarking Change Delivery Strategies                                                   NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   tion early because of how it may affect the stock      through here, charged a great deal of money,
   market. However, within those constraints,             and what they recommended and ultimately
   several auto industry participants shared that         put in place was a very robust, people-
   they strive for prompt communication about             intensive delivery mechanism that focused
   company issues.                                        on internal communication.”
        One executive explained, “Nothing is worse             In Naval Aviation, they also learned the les-
   than sitting at home at night when the news            son to focus internally early on: “We decided a
   comes on and says something about what’s               long time ago that our initial focus needed to be
   happening [in your company], and your spouse           an internal audience. We needed to make people
   looks at you and says, ‘Did you know that?’ and        in the fleet, in the Navy, in Naval Aviation, under-
   you go, ‘No.’ Nothing’s worse than looking [bad]       stand what we are doing, what we are trying to
   at home.”                                              accomplish, and get them onboard with this cul-
        The bottom line, however, may simply be           ture change.”
   flexibility: “Your communication set-up has                 It’s also important to communicate to all lev-
   to be very flexible to respond to what’s happen-       els of your internal audience.
   ing in the world today. People expect instant
                                                          Communicate to all levels
                                                              “You have to get the message to them …
        Getting clear communication about the                 through all levels of the organization.”
   change effort is crucial to ensuring that people
   understand the vision. But general clarity isn’t            According to participants, change leaders
   always enough—messages will also need to be            can’t just focus their efforts on one or two levels
   adapted for different audiences.                       of the organization, but instead need to adapt the
                                                          message to all levels: “You can’t just assume that
   Adapt your message                                     because you told the second layer and the fourth
   “I think you have to know who your stakeholders        layer that the other folks are going to get it. I
   are. It’s not just one group. It’s multiple groups.”   think that the leader of the organization is re-
                                                          sponsible for making sure that it gets communi-
        Knowing who to target, and how to target          cated through the entire organization.”
   them, is a constant challenge in communicating              One of the challenges to getting the message
   change messages. But there was wide consensus          out, however, is targeting the messages appropri-
   that you have to pay close attention to internal       ately at different levels: “I think you have the guy
   audiences, communicate through all levels, know        at the top who somehow has to find the guy at the
   the specific needs of particular audiences, listen     lower middle, not the guy on the front line. Don’t
   to feedback, and understand the impact the             talk to that guy. He is more worried about his car
   changes will have on your audiences.                   payment than he is about taking Lean [Six Sigma]
   Focus on internal messaging                            classes.” Respondents suggested that often the
        “The internal constituents are hugely impor-      direct supervisor has a much better strategy for
        tant. You’re not going to win if they don’t       reaching the front line. As one senior manager
        believe.”                                         put it, “they’ll listen [to the supervisor] because
                                                          they’re used to him. They see him every day, and
       While external audiences are important in          they trust him.”
   change or turnaround efforts, many of our re-               Still, participants say, leaders do need to
   spondents said that it’s the internal messages         touch on the different levels to empower change
   that matter most. As one executive looked back         agents throughout the organization. There are
   on how his company learned that lesson, he             many ways to do this. In one example, an execu-
   shared that “the primary need then and today           tive does what he calls “diagonal slices,” a term he
   needs to be more internal than external.” In one       used to describe targeting different levels within
   case, a company hired a consultant group to as-        his organization: “I do diagonal slices with the
   sess the organization’s needs: “They went              organization on a monthly basis. It used to be

                                                                     CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM        21
Benchmarking Change Delivery Strategies                                                NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   about 25 people at a time; we’re expanding that       leader was described as being highly attentive
   now up to about 50 at a time. It’s a very effective   audience needs: “He can move around in those
   way to get the word out.”                             levels of abstraction very quickly to deal with
        In another example, an executive used tech-      someone from marketing who’s calling to ask a
   nology to reach the organization: We do a Web-        question about a very high-level aspect: ‘Why
   cast for 15 minutes every week … I view it as the     can’t we offer this package with that?’ or ‘What
   opportunity to reach a lot of people on a regular     would it take to do this?’ But, he can also make
   basis.” During these Webcasts, he would give a 5-     the connections back down to the details.” One
   minute weekly update and then open things up to       executive also emphasized the need to continu-
   questions from the organization.                                                        ally adapt to who
        Still another executive held various regular                                       he was speaking
   meetings to ensure everyone was on board with                                           to: “There’s the
   the changes: We had staff meetings regularly. We
                                                             “You can force                ability to say the
   had all-executive meetings, which is about 120          compliance, [but] same thing in dif-
   people regularly, so they knew what was going                                           ferent ways de-
   on. And then we had what were called                    what you want is pending on how
   ‘leadership meetings,’ which is our first-line                                          the person is go-
   supervisors and above, twice a year, just
                                                             commitment.”                  ing to receive it;
   about 1100 people, so they knew what was                                                the ability to be
   going on here.”                                                                         gentle and polite
        What all these examples have in common is a      when necessary, and to be firm when necessary.”
   thorough commitment to constant communica-                 There were several participants who com-
   tion throughout the enterprise. One executive,        mented specifically on adapting to younger audi-
   who also teaches human relations at a local uni-      ences: “I am finding the younger folks communi-
   versity, shared his opinion: “I’ve taught Human       cate very differently than my generation does …
   Relations and Leadership, and I’ve said, ‘If I had    they have a different expectation for communica-
   to name this class something else it would be         tion, they have their own language in many
   Communication.’ And that’s what it is. I’ve got to    cases.” In motivating this audience, change lead-
   [communicate] it up and down the organization,        ers need to understand these differences and
   sideways, and find those folks who are the cham-      adapt to them: “On the battlefield, you need com-
   pions for it, who are going to spread it.”            mand and control, and everybody needs to just
        So how do you know when you’re reaching          do what they’re told and believe in their supervi-
   everyone? One way is simply seeing the results.       sor. But that doesn’t work with young people that
   One respondent said that “If you're doing your        are growing up today. You’re not going to get the
   job right, and you’re communicating it, every         young people to come into your world and do
   level is effective all the way down to the            everything you want to do.”
   plant level.”                                              In addition to adjusting to specific audiences,
        What’s effective for reaching different levels   participants also provided advice for understand-
   of the organization? Participants say it’s critical   ing audiences in general in a change environ-
   that you understand the particular worldviews of      ment. For example, one executive said certain
   your various audiences.                               words can trigger fear: “Don’t ever use the word
                                                         ‘reorganization.’ That scares the hell out of peo-
   Know your audience
                                                         ple.” He stressed that it was important to pay at-
       “Every [communication] piece had to start off
       with ‘why would someone be interested in
                                                         tention to the words you use.
       reading this?’”                                        Another general piece of advice, offered up
                                                         by a communications professional, was to accom-
       While the core message needs to be consis-        modate different audiences even within the same
   tent, participants stressed that messages still       messages: “The most important information goes
   need to be modified for different audiences. One      up front. I realize that there are those people

                                                                    CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM        22
Benchmarking Change Delivery Strategies                                                     NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   who will go out and seek out more information,         What’s in it for me?
   so I have to provide the details as well.”                 “If people can’t see what it does for them, it
         Sometimes, though, it’s a question of target-        isn’t going to last very long … whether your
   ing. As one participant stressed, “I think the ex-         boss is in favor of it or not.”
   pectations of leaders that everybody is going to
   know everything is too broad of a reach. The mes-            Clearly, one of the big questions in rolling out
   sages aren’t targeted enough.” Targeted messages       a change effort is how to get employees moti-
   are especially important, respondents said, when       vated to endorse and enact the changes. Our par-
   trying to reach the frontline. As one communica-       ticipants stated repeatedly the need to under-
   tions manager put it, “What wrench-turner cares        stand and communicate the impact on the em-
   about balancing current and future resources?          ployee: “That’s been an interesting question: how
   He has no idea what that means.” Instead, she          do we get [the change] instituted and how do we
   said, focus on what matters to them: “Every story      get buy-in from both management and employ-
   I tried to write … focused on how someone at the       ees? What are their values? We always have to
   deck plate was supposed to take this giant con-        answer that question: ‘What’s in it for me?’”
   cept and apply it in their every day work.”                  There were several suggestions about how to
         Targeting is hard work, but essential if audi-   examine the impact on the employee. One partici-
   ences are to clearly understand how the change         pant noted the need to recognize the pain in-
   relates to their world. Sometimes that means sim-      volved in change: “You have to show the vision
   plifying more complex ideas: “You need leaders         [and] what it means to the different groups and
   who can take complex concepts and translate            people involved. And it has to be communicated
   them down to tactical daily applications for peo-      clearly, with conviction and also with compassion
   ple.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen:       that change is stressful, regardless of whether the
   “There are people in the middle who think the          end-state is better for the individual or not.” If
   only thing they are required to do is take [an ad-     they don’t see the benefits to them, participants
   miral’s] brief, put their name on top of it, spew      noted, “then why are they going to go out on a
   out the four slides verbatim, and that’s it: Every-    limb?”
   one is supposed to get it.” So, not only do change           Employees who understand the personal
   leaders need to adapt messages themselves to           benefits are more likely to make changes. One
   different audiences, they also need to hold their      leader said he laid it out to his employees this
   mid-level managers accountable for adapting            way: “‘When we make these changes, it is going to
   those messages as well: “[Managers] need to            mean that you can do things better and easier
   translate the change into tactical daily applica-      and you are going to be doing what you are
   tions for their workforce.”                            trained to do. You are just going to spend more
         One valuable way to adapt to different audi-     time fixing things. Less time chasing stuff down.’”
   ences is to tell stories they can relate to. As one    But talk isn’t enough, another participant said:
   executive said, “Figure out a way to tell a great      “They need to see and feel a personal result … we
   story that will resonate with people. You’ve got to    still live in this all-about-me world, whether we
   find the right words, and tell it in a story form so   like it or not.”
   that it makes sense to them.” Another executive              In Naval Aviation, they’ve found that hard
   shared his success with reaching a group that had      evidence and experiencing the benefits firsthand
   previously been resistant to the change message:       was what carried the day: “The genie is out of the
   “I think I told a good story. I think we went back     bottle at the lower levels … in Naval Aviation we
   and got things that the audience could relate to,      went from a flying hour program budget in FY03
   so that it made sense to them. And, I didn’t just      of 4.2 billion dollars to a flying hour program
   try to tell them the story myself. I used dealers to   budget in FY07 of 3.2 billion dollars. At the same
   tell the story.”                                       time, we produced more readiness, more reliable
         Ultimately, however, most audiences will         machines, and a better relationship with the fleet
   always ask the question: What’s in it for me?          because they are getting what they need, doing

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Benchmarking Change Cultural Adaptations                                                NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   less work … now you have internally something          partly from the way we’re rated here: if you’re a
   you can never take away from them.”                    release engineer for a fuel pump, then your entire
        But what works for one group in the organi-       job in life is to get the cheapest fuel pump out
   zation may not work for all groups. One Naval          there that works in the car and doesn’t fail in the
   Aviation participant shared that the benefits          field. And that’s exactly what you’re rated on.
   weren’t as clear yet to the group he worked for:       Now, if somebody comes and says, ‘You know, we
   “Some people looked at AIRSpeed as an attack on        could make the car lighter if you used this other
   their priorities … [leadership] set this up as a       fuel pump,’ and if there’s any risk involved in that,
   good thing, but you just gave us more work.”           there’s nothing in it for the engineer.” To address
   What this example may illustrate is the need to        that resistance, the organization would have to
   work continually to articulate the benefits, for       align the rewards with the new, desired behav-
   different groups, in terms that they find credible.    iors and priorities.
   One participant summed up: “When they begin to              Another system barrier can be seen in the
   see some personal successes, within their own          Navy, where an ingrained budgeting process
   organization, then you start to get more buy-in.”      doesn’t support current cost-saving initiatives.
   Cultural Adaptations                                   One participant explained the problem this way:
                                                          “If you have stepped up to the plate as an Enter-
       When priorities change, the culture needs to       prise and said, ‘I project that we can live with
   change with it. That means that systems and            20% less three years from now than we did in the
   norms need to reflect the new goals of the organi-     past.’ They say, ‘fine, thank you’ and take that
   zation. Our participants outlined several key re-      money and use it for something else, as they
   quirements in creating a change culture:               should. But then, when you get to the year of exe-
                                                          cution, if they come back and whack you again,
           Give them what they want                      you have been hit twice. Whereas the people
           Overcome resistance                           who are not so inspired to be in this journey may
           Be resourceful                                not have stepped up voluntarily and given up
           Accept change as a way of life                [money] in advance, so when the time comes they
                                                          have been penalized less. So it is really an incen-
   Give them what they want                               tive not to play in the Enterprise regime.”
         People are driven by causes and effects, and          In our interviews, participants also identified
   it’s important that the reward system be aligned       another system challenge in the Navy; namely,
   with what the organization is trying to accom-         the lack of alignment in recognizing the time
   plish. There are numerous ways to creative incen-      that’s necessary to learn new ways of doing busi-
   tives for employees, but our participants specifi-     ness and the promotion system. Part of the
   cally noted money, public recognition, pride in        Navy’s change effort is to institute Lean Six Sigma
   work, and quality of life issues as key motivators.    (LSS) and encourage officers to become a LSS
   Tailor rewards                                         “Black Belt” and a Naval Aviation “Deployment
       “Change the reward system to reinforce             Champion.” However, between the training they
       changing the behavior.”                            receive and their work to share their experience
                                                          with others, the sailors are often absent from
        Time and time again, we see that people will      their core organizational structure for about two
   do what they’re rewarded to do. Often, however,        years. During the time they are gone, they are out
   the system is still set up to reward past activities   of the promotion loop: “The challenge you have
   as opposed to new behaviors.                           with any leadership development program is that
        One example of this problem was shared by         they were gone out of their organization struc-
   an executive in Engineering. He encountered            ture ... So, you have a problem of out-of-sight, out-
   some resistance in engineers to taking on new          of-mind, to some degree, as promotions come
   priorities: “The nature of the resistance comes        available.” This challenge, participants say, can be

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Benchmarking Change Cultural Adaptations                                                      NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   a disincentive for sailors to embrace the change          and says to the lab technician, ‘I need high-fidelity
   efforts through that level of participation.              data from your test each and every day. And I
         There are numerous ways, however, to ad-            want it on time. That’s what you do for quality.’”
   dress the incentive challenges. In this particular        In this way, the employee understands his meas-
   case, one participant shared a specific solution for      urement criteria and, consequently, is more likely
   aligning promotions to the change objectives: “I          to achieve results.
   would make sure that his fit reps (fitness reports)            Once rewards are aligned with new behav-
   were based on the impact he had in that com-              iors, and people understand the criteria for
   mand towards readiness: ‘What have you done to            evaluation, then there are numerous ways to mo-
   make that activity better since you have been in          tivate them through rewards and incentives.
   there?’ That is how his promotions are going to
                                                             Use money when feasible
   be based.” Another participant believed that
                                                                  “To reinforce the change, you’ve got to
   change-related behaviors shouldn’t only be re-                 change the compensation system.”
   warded, but required: “It is investing in the peo-
   ple … making it a requirement to different pro-                First, participants said, there’s no getting
   motion gates that these classes [to support the           around the allure of money: “We’re all human
   change] be done.” Active                                                           beings, and a lot of it comes
   marketing can also be use-                                                         down to ‘If I understand
   ful: “When a captain be-                                                           how I’m going to be com-
   came an admiral, we made              “You have to find out what                   pensated, how it’s going to
   it a huge deal … we make a             the trigger is for people to                hit my wallet, then it’s clear
   story about that so we can                                                         as to what’s going to be ac-
   demonstrate that people                 understand what you are                    ceptable and what’s not.’”
   are getting promoted from                                                          However, money incentives
   doing this work.”                           really trying to do.”                  aren’t always crystal clear.
         Regardless of the ways                                                       Many respondents from the
   in which the rewards can be                                                        auto industry shared that
   aligned with the new goals, it’s important to make        bonuses have not always been as closely tied to
   system adjustments. Overcoming these system               individual performance as they could have been.
   challenges takes time, but they can be addressed:         However, in a turnaround environment, the links
   “We’re starting to see it now, where the Black            between performance and compensation need to
   Belts who have been trained are going back                be more closely scrutinized: “Last year, we took a
   into the workforce. And many of them are                  much, much more aggressive approach to reward
   getting promotions.”                                      those that were really getting it done. It was
         Besides aligning systems with rewards and           probably more performance-driven last year than
   incentives, it’s important that employees under-          we ever had before.”
   stand how measurable objectives are derived                    Sometimes, even small financial recognition
   from abstract visions. One of the most fundamen-          can go a long way to motivate people. Several
   tal issues in a system of rewards and incentives is       auto companies have programs that allow peri-
   how people are measured. As one participant put           odic financial bonuses for a job well done: “We
   it, “The other piece of it is … the metrics. How are      actually have a system whereby you can recog-
   you going to measure me? [Based on that], I will          nize someone and they get a credit card sent to
   tell you how I will act.”                                 their home. It could be like $200, $500, $1,000,
         The manager has a key role in defining spe-         whatever.”
   cific measures based on the larger organizational              In the Navy, financial recognition is more
   goals: “It’s really easy to say, ‘Okay. We’re going       difficult. However, there are some monetary re-
   to fix quality.’ [But] the guy in the lab, he wouldn’t    wards already in place. One Navy participant
   know how to do half of this stuff if he tried. So,        shared that one command “ended up winning the
   the expectation is that the supervisor takes that         Stan Arthur award for logistics excellence, which

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Benchmarking Change Cultural Adaptations                                                     NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   was a $10,000 award that the command got, and            own results, activities that support the change
   they gave it to their MWR (Morale, Welfare, and          effort.
   Recreation) fund. They had a big picnic and eve-               Public recognition can come in a variety of
   ryone knew why they were doing it. That was a            ways, and one participant shared this story: “My
   great success.”                                          two favorite colonels would go down to the work
        Nonetheless, several participants said that         center and award that Corporal on the spot. The
   money is far from the only way to motivate peo-          commander would walk down there right then,
   ple. In fact, many pointed out its limitations as a      have the PAO take pictures, and put it up on their
   primary incentive: “Most people leave an organi-         web site. That organization was just phenome-
   zation not because of the pay, but because they          nal. They had the best retention rate, even
   don’t like where they work, they don’t like their        though they were overseas.”
   supervisor, they don’t like the culture, they don’t
                                                                  Sometimes recognition can be less public, but
   like the environment.”
                                                            still have an enormous impact. One Admiral in
        In the Navy and elsewhere, recognition can
                                                            Naval Aviation gives special gold Navy coins to
   have a big effect on how people respond to their
                                                            outstanding individuals on the shop floor, but
                                                            does so in a handshake without calling attention
   Provide public recognition                               to the gesture (see sidebar, page 11).
       “Award those people for when they have                     In addition to public recognition, people sim-
       made a contribution to that overall good …           ply like knowing that they made things better.
       and make sure you do it in public.”
                                                            Encourage pride in work
        So, what makes for a motivational environ-              “Part of it [the motivation] is appealing to
   ment? In the Navy, it’s often various forms of pub-          pride … actually doing something for those
   lic recognition. As one participant noted, “People           that count on you.”
   recognize that by working in the government
   you’re not going to get rich. So sometimes, just              People spend an enormous amount of their
   some simple recognition … can go a long way.”            lives at work, and participants said that pride can
        This was certainly true according to our re-        often be a strong incentive for behavior. One ex-
   spondents from Naval Aviation. As one communi-           ecutive notes the strong connection people have
   cations manager shared, “Those guys are moti-            with their place of work:
   vated by just the knowledge and empowerment …                 “Whenever you’re part of a successful organi-
   I just had to make sure that I got good news sto-        zation, you feel good. A lot of our self-worth and
   ries directly from them and that their team got          identity is tied to the company.”
   the accolades and rewards that they wanted.”                  In the Navy, pride is indeed a motivator, as
        Another senior manager echoed the effective-        this story illustrates: “When they realized the
   ness of this kind of recognition: “Our PAO (Public       results [of incorporating the changes], they got
   Affairs Officer) writes articles on activities that do   excited, they were proud. They would see that
   really well and publishes them to the whole Naval        we had 06s to 09s [high ranking officers] walking
   Aviation Enterprise. They get their picture up on        through and wanting to see what was all the fuss
   the website. Things like that are very important.”       going on … They were the ones operating it, so
        Recognizing people in public also has a moti-       they had something to feel proud about.”
   vating effect on those who weren’t recognized,
                                                                 That pride, participants say, also comes from
   but want to be:
                                                            serving the greater good: “What motivates people
        “So this division was getting a lot of good
                                                            to stay in the Navy, and what motivates people to
   press and people would come to visit. So [others]
                                                            work, is they believe in the greater good. It is an
   would think, ‘we are doing good work too. Why
                                                            honorable profession.”
   aren’t we being showed off?” What often hap-
   pens, participants said, is that those striving for           Another incentive is to appeal to various as-
   recognition go the extra step to demonstrate their       pects of their work and personal lives.

                                                                       CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM        26
Benchmarking Change Cultural Adaptations                                                      NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   Improve the quality of life                              be willing to work four, 10-hour days to get Fri-
       “It is a quality of life thing ... I don’t have to   day off to get a 3-day weekend.’ I told every divi-
       work as many hours.”                                 sion that they could do that when they showed
                                                            me what changes they made and … how that
        Another way to provide an incentive for new         would be more beneficial.”
   behaviors is through improving employees’ qual-               Even with rewards and incentives, organiza-
   ity of life. Prior to the changes in Naval Aviation,     tions will still encounter resistance, and that re-
   work was often chaotic, the hours were long, and         sistance needs to be addressed one way
   tasks were unpredictable. The organizational             or another.
   changes brought an end to those things in many
   cases, and people noticed:                               Overcome Resistance
        “We don’t come in and work 14 hours a day
   anymore. We don’t come in to work weekends.               “I’ve learned that you’ve just got to anticipate a
   People come in when they are supposed to work.           certain amount of resistance. And you don’t push
                                                            back real hard on that resistance. You just let
                                                            them say and feel what they want to say and feel.
                                                            And then you start chiseling away at it one piece
       “People recognize that by                            at a time.”
   working in the government you’re                               Change and resistance go hand in hand, par-
                                                            ticipants say, and you may need to draw on all
   not going to get rich. Sometimes,                        your resources at some point to overcome it. At
    just some simple recognition …                          times you may need to fire people. But often you
                                                            need to stick to the plan, demonstrate the bene-
          can go a long way.”                               fits to employees, appeal to their self interest, and
                                                            sometimes encourage people to break the rules.
   They start when they need to work. They even             Replace personnel
   have time for lunch. They go home when they are               One participant asserted that sometimes you
   supposed to and they don’t have to give up their         simply have to replace the resistors with new
   weekends in order to get the job done. They are          people: “To be quite honest, to overcome
   making a bigger contribution than they have ever         resistance sometimes you just get to a point
   made and yet their quality of life is better than it     where you say, ‘Well, some individuals aren’t
   ever has been. That is incredibly powerful.”             going to be swayed,’ therefore, when we use the
        Participants shared other quality of life in-       term going through change management,
   centives for their work forces—revamped break            sometimes you’ve got to change the management.
   areas with new furniture, new microwaves, and            If they’re not on board after a certain length of
   new refrigerators. According to participants,            time, it’s going to work against you, so you have
   other workers were motivated by these improve-           to root out the naysayers.”
   ments: “They saw some of the benefits that the
   [other] plants got … and said, ‘when are you going       Persevere
   to do my work center?’”                                       Change doesn’t happen immediately, one
        Time off and flexible scheduling is also an         participant said, and it’s important that leaders
   important quality of life issue for many employ-         persevere: “The resistance to some extent is still
   ees: “To our most junior folks, if you said, ‘hey,       there. That is why I really like to describe this as a
   this might get you more time off,’ [they would           journey … there is just a series of steps that you
   say], ‘Okay, I will do it.’”                             have to take as opposed to assuming you have
        One leader in Naval Aviation used schedule          sawed off on something and you are done with it.
   changes as a specific motivator for rewarding            If you don’t keep paying attention to this stuff, the
   change behaviors and results: “I went to a four-         fundamental change does not occur. It’s like a
   day work week … and a lot of them said ‘I would          bungee cord. You stretch that sucker out and all

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Benchmarking Change Cultural Adaptations                                                     NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   of a sudden you release it and ‘whoom!’ the place             “People would say, ‘Oh, you can’t.’ ‘Why?’
   smacks back to.”                                        ‘Well, the process is the process, you can't violate
        Part of that perseverance may simply be to         it.’ And then at some point I’d say, ‘Well, who’s in
   go back to the urgency that motivated the change        charge here?’ ‘Well, you are.’ And I’d say, ‘Well, so,
   in the first place: “Well I think what you have to      if I say I want it done a different way, why can’t I
   do is go back to stating the obvious, which is the      change the process?’ ‘Well, I guess we could, but
   reason why we're making these changes to begin          we don’t do that that often.’ So, I developed these
   with. We have to change as a company. You               little pull-off stickers that that said, ‘Says Who?’
   always have to go back to that core premise in          And I just wanted everyone to say, ‘Says who?’
   all of your communications, and when you do             whenever they’d hit a stumbling block and some-
   meet resistance you’ve probably got to stick to it      body says, ‘You can’t do that.’”
   even more.”                                                   A big part of overcoming resistance is for the
                                                           organization to draw on every resource available.
   Demonstrate the benefits
        Some participants said that the best way to
                                                           Be resourceful
   overcome resistance is to simply let the changes
   demonstrate the benefits:                               “There are tons of lessons learned … that
        “It was frustrating that I couldn’t help them      commitment needs to come from not only
   see what I was seeing. And then, when it was fi-        executive leadership, but has to be across the
   nally on the floor, they saw it. They couldn’t see it   board in all realms.”
   until they actually, physically saw it working and
                                                                There are numerous resources within the
   the benefits of it. So, that was my turning point
                                                           organization and a robust change culture avails
   when I realized, it doesn’t really matter how
                                                           itself of all of them. Those that were most critical
   much you talk to people, and how much you try
                                                           to our participants included fully engaging lead-
   to explain it—until they see the tangible result,
                                                           ership and employees, encouraging employee
   you can’t really expect them to believe it.”
                                                           ownership of their areas of responsibility, recog-
   Appeal to self-interest                                 nizing the power of bottom-up inspiration, pro-
         In some cases, you can fight resistance by        viding necessary training, and using outside ex-
   focusing on how the change efforts benefit the          pertise when necessary.
   employee individually. One respondent overcame
                                                           Engage leadership
   some resistance by focusing on the application of           “The highest echelon of the management …
   the new skills in the marketplace:                          all commanders of their departments, abso-
         “They can Google Lean [Six Sigma] and see all         lutely have to believe in [the change] and
   these organizations that do Lean, and where you             make it their number-one priority.”
   can get training, and that colleges give courses,
   and people said ‘Wow. I wonder if what I am get-             Participants were clear that leadership en-
   ting from the Navy I can convert over.’ And it’s        gagement is critical to success: “Right off the bat,
   one thing to have a qualification or certification.     the one thing that has to be in place is leadership
   It is another thing to actually be able to do it.       buy-in and commitment to making the change
   Now if I get this training and I get this certifica-    work.” One Navy officer put it succinctly: “If you
   tion and I show skill with it, that may help me as I    don’t have that senior leadership support, noth-
   transition to another career.’ So I saw that. I said,   ing else is going to matter.”
   ‘let’s get you trained. Let’s get you qualified. Un-         So what does that support look like? In one
   derstand it, live it, do it and then you can put that   case, it meant that leaders were physically pre-
   on your resume.’”                                       sent and engaged in the process:
   Encourage rule-breaking                                      “When I had an AIRSpeed in-brief or out-
       One leader in the auto industry worked hard         brief, [the Commander] was always there. No
   to overcome rigid process-following because he          matter how busy she was, she always made time
   saw it as barrier:                                      for that … because she wanted everybody to

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Benchmarking Change Cultural Adaptations                                               NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   know that she was involved in [the change], and       the media, but our ability to heal was through our
   it was important to her.” This level of engage-       employees, who were being asked by their
   ment, participants said, gives a clear message to     neighbors, their friends, and their church mem-
   the organization that the change effort is genuine.   bers [about the crisis]. So we equipped our em-
        Naval Aviation was very committed to exhib-      ployees with a lot of information. We wanted
   iting that level of commitment throughout the         them to be ambassadors for the company and it
   Enterprise, something they point to as contribut-     actually worked.”
   ing to their effectiveness: “One of the big signs         In many cases, your employees will be far
   [that] leaders are not engaged is when we go to a     more effective at bringing about change than
   briefing, and [the leader] introduces the guy that    those higher in the organization. Sometimes you
   is working for him that actually is going to do the   need the credibility of your top performers to be
   talking. In Naval Aviation that doesn’t happen. If
   you want to find out what is going on in Naval
   Aviation, then the guy that you go to is the Com-
   mander … and he is the one that does the talking.                “The face of the
   Top level leadership needs to be engaged as op-                   organization is
   posed to delegating.”
        When asked specifically what has worked                 the first-line supervisor”
   best for them, one Naval Aviation respondent
   said simply, “The things that have worked have
   been the activities where the leadership is
   strongly engaged.”                                    a champion for the change: “As soon as you get
        Other participants noted the importance of a     one of your number one technicians to buy into it,
   committed leadership team, one that was clearly       you’re done. If you can get him to understand the
   aligned on goals and mission: “It takes a commit-     benefits, he’ll sell it to everybody else.”
   ment by all the leaders involved, from the top             Direct supervisors can also play a very im-
   down to where I am. I’m the leader of the engi-       portant role. One respondent said she worked
   neering charge, but we all have to be committed       with lower-level supervisors “because they were
   and focused on a common goal.”                        the peer group that receivers are going to listen
        In one auto organization, they learned that      to … I needed those work center supervisors. I’m
   leadership unity was key: “the feedback we got        talking about a senior petty officer … who gets it.”
   from that meeting was ‘wow, for the first time we          Frontline supervisors were also an important
   see a management team that doesn't hate each          group in the auto industry, and respondents said
   other, is pretty aligned, and seems to get along.’”   that their influence could be very strong in the
   Another respondent added that “Leadership has         workforce: “You’ve got to communicate with the
   to reach consensus and be committed to the            key influencers … the face of the organization is
   change personally.”                                   the first-line supervisor, [and] it is absolutely
                                                         critical to communicate to them because we
   Engage Employees                                      have about a 12-to-1 ratio. That’s their span
       “Involve as many people as you can. Get
                                                         of control.”
       some champions in there that believe it’s the
                                                              Even your initial detractors can become your
       right thing to do and are absolutely commit-
       ted to it.”                                       biggest influencers, participants said, if you can
                                                         engage them: “On the first day the most vocal guy
       Leadership can’t create a change culture on       says, ‘I don’t believe this will work … why are you
   their own—they need to engage employees in the        making me do this?’ And when we left on that
   effort. In one instance, a company solicited em-      Friday he stood up and said, ‘When I came in here
   ployee help in dealing with a major crisis: “What     I was completely skeptical of this, but I saw the
   we did right was we engaged our employees … it        light on Wednesday, and I understood why you
   was one thing for me to take the questions from       wanted so strongly to do this. I will be your

                                                                    CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM        29
Benchmarking Change Cultural Adaptations                                                NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   strongest supporter and I will back you.’ Now,
   he’s going to go back sell it to all of his subordi-
   nates. He’s out of our research and engineering         Stories from the trenches
   community, which is about 7,000-8,000 people.
   That’s our largest competency here. If you can get       Reaching younger audiences
   the first flock of ducks to buy in, then the rest of         How do you adapt communication to
   them are usually going to follow.”                     reach younger audiences? One challenge
   Give ownership                                         companies face is how to motivate younger
       “You get those key stakeholders to the table       employees to perform well, thrive in the
       to sign up to things and they own it. But if       organization, and stick around for the long
       they didn’t sign up to it, they aren’t going to    haul. Several auto companies were taking
       push it.”                                          this question very seriously and said that
                                                          younger audiences want more input about
        Involving employees isn’t enough, partici-        how things are run. Why? One executive
   pants said, because they need to feel ownership        shared that their world is one of constant
   to be compelled to act. As one respondent put it,      customization.
   “It was a matter of ownership, giving people the             “They grew up in an era where they
   ability to own it. They really took responsibility     could have everything they wanted, exactly
   for it and said, ‘You asked us, we told you, and       the way they wanted it, when they wanted
   now it’s ours and we own it.’ When they took           it,” he said. “Do you know how many differ-
   ownership, that changed the whole scope of eve-        ent ways you can order a cup of coffee at
   rything, really. An unbelievable difference.”          Starbucks? A PhD on my staff went to the
        One executive saw ownership as key to his         website, looked at all their options, and mul-
   strategy of introducing change: “My approach           tiplied it out for me. There are 79,626,240
   was to get unvarnished input from the manage-          different ways to order a cup of coffee at
   ment team so that they could feel ownership of         Starbucks ... You can order your Dell com-
   what we were starting to do. Secondly I wanted         puter online exactly the way you want it,
   my immediate management team to feel owner-            and if you want a pair of Nike shoes with
   ship because they were going to be presenting it       your name on them, you can do that.”
   to their underlings. And the third thing I wanted
                                                                Understanding young people’s custom-
   to achieve was to start breaking the cycle of ‘the
                                                          izable world can help organizations under-
   management has all the answers and ‘just do it
                                                          stand how to communicate more effectively
   don’t ask any questions.’”
                                                          with them. Another auto executive added
        Many respondents shared specific examples
                                                          that younger employees definitely want a
   of how employee ownership accomplished much
                                                          say in how the business is run. “They have
   more than management mandate. One senior
                                                          different expectations about communication
   manager said, “once the hourly people assume
                                                          … they want a dialogue … [they say], ‘Don't
   responsibility and take ownership of it, they have
                                                          just tell me what I have to do, I want con-
   a lot more latitude in the unseen part than
                                                          trol.’ They’ve got questions, and they want a
   management does. They can make a lot of
                                                          feedback loop or they will shut you down.”
   things happen.”
        In one instance, an auto company empow-                 The world today is different than it was
   ered employees to own a “crib” where equipment         for earlier generations—according to our
   and supplies were located: “The Crib Champion …        respondents, to reach those who are the
   a lot of [things] can be directly affected by them:    future of the organization, leaders at all lev-
   they verify that everything is labeled correctly,      els need to adapt their communication prac-
   check the general appearance, the condition of         tices accordingly.
   the equipment. When people get to say, ‘That’s
   mine,’ they’re going to take care of it.”

                                                                     CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM   30
Benchmarking Change Cultural Adaptations                                                      NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   Work from the bottom up                                  up with some of the ideas on how they wanted to
       “The change and the ideas really have to             change things.”
       come from the bottom up.”                                 One organization was particularly committed
                                                            to bottom up input, so much so that at times it
        Even with the vision coming from the top,           created some challenges: “We solicit input from
   our participants stressed that real change hap-          everyone; even the people who are charged with
   pens from the bottom up. Otherwise, you may              janitorial duties are at some point asked to give
   just end up with lip service: “They are going to         input on things. It’s almost democracy at work.
   say they are committed because that is what their        Almost everything that happens here is consen-
   leadership wants to hear, but then they are not          sus, it’s not one person … sometimes we want
   going to be very involved and just hope it goes          so much inclusion that there’s an analysis paraly-
   away. The change and the ideas really have to            sis kind of thing that takes place because we’ve
   come from the bottom up.”                                got everyone weighing in. … But if you can, you
        Another respondent added, “If you are going         need to segue from inviting all these ideas, to
   to change that process and you have a better             deciding which one you’re going to adopt and
   process, you let them help develop it. That is the       then executing it.”
   intuitive way.”                                               Regardless of those challenges, most partici-
                                                            pants agreed that bottom up input was critical to
                                                            driving change. But even the most creative prob-
     “Let your people come to you                           lem-solvers need training.

       with ideas, listen to them.                          Provide training
                                                                “I think the key for any of these [leadership]
           Don’t stifle them.”                                  programs is the training … oftentimes that
                                                                gets overlooked.”

                                                                 With any new change program, the organiza-
        Getting that input from the ground up is cru-       tion needs to acquire new skills, abilities, and
   cial, but challenging: “The biggest challenge for us     ways of thinking. So, another resource that or-
   is really being able to tap the knowledge and ex-        ganizations need to draw on is training.
   perience that exists on the factory floor, start to           One Naval Aviation participant emphasized
   get people working in small teams.”                      that training needed to happen throughout the
        Nonetheless, that’s what change environ-            organization: “I think the training is really impor-
   ments demand. One leader clearly understood the          tant, and it isn’t just for the admirals. They have
   need for this in his organization: “He was basi-         to set an example. But it should be a requirement
   cally telling his directors and managers, ‘Let your      in everyone’s fit rep (fitness report). You have to
   people come to you with ideas, listen to them.           have these classes.”
   Don’t stifle them.’ And to the people, ‘be empow-             Another respondent echoed this advice,
   ered, you know what you’re talking about …               going even one step further: “If we are serious
   come up with your best ideas, and let’s get              about Enterprise AIRSpeed and doing
   them out there.’”                                        continuous process improvement throughout
        Even though managers lead their subordi-            Naval Aviation, we have to make it part of train-
   nates, participants noted the importance of let-         ing, part of our A schools (Apprentice schools)
   ting employees direct their own efforts toward           and C schools (Specialty schools). We need to get
   the goal: “At no time did I say, ‘this is exactly what   our aviation officers when they go through their
   we are going to do,’” one leader explained. “I may       officer training.”
   have guided them towards an area that we need                 One auto industry executive shared that his
   to look at, but they needed to propose to me what        company was particularly attentive to the needs
   they wanted to do. That was part of the buy-in,          of training: “That’s one of the things I think [our
   and it was truly our most junior folks who came          company] does a good job at … everything is very

                                                                       CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM        31
Benchmarking Change Cultural Adaptations                                                       NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   well thought out, there are numerous training                 Even with outside expertise, however, one
   sessions to educate everyone about the program:           participant stressed the need to develop skills in
   Why are we doing it? What are the implications?”          house: “Use the experts to start that initial wave
   This kind of training, he said, ensures that              and then have your plan for when we don’t need
   everyone understands and can execute the                  the experts. We need to have our own folks
   new programs.                                             trained so we don’t have to call on industry or
       Clearly your inside resources are key to your         someplace else.”
   change efforts. But participants also stressed the
   need for outside help.                                    Accept change as a way of life
   Use outside perspectives                                  “By the way … the journey never ends.”
       “You always need to have that outside per-
       spective … to understand what reality is.”               The ultimate lesson in change management,
                                                            our respondents said, is in understanding that
        Change is difficult, and sometimes an outside       change never ends: “A lot of people think that
   perspective can help: “I think in order to do this       once you install something, then it is an end. The
   [change effort], you need a mentor. And the men-         journey to Naval Aviation Enterprise is a journey
   tor needs to be someone external to you. It’s            that never ends. Even if you have everything un-
   along the old line of the doctor shouldn’t try to        der control, you are still going to do continuous
   heal himself. You need to have someone external          process improvement.”
   to you that drives the behavior.”                            One auto company executive also stressed
        The core problem with insiders, participants        continuous change in his organization: “The mes-
   say, is that it’s tough to drive                                                sage we get across to peo-
   change with the same peo-                                                       ple is that we’re always
   ple who have always been                                                        going to be changing. There
   there: “As long as they keep           “The journey    never ends.”             is no end-point because
   promoting from the inside,                                                      you’re never going to get
   that culture will never                                                         there. You’re always going
   change.”                                                 to be traveling.” There are two key components,
        In the Navy, this may mean drawing on the           participants say, necessary to accept change as a
   help of civilians. One civilian leader believed that     way of life: having patience and celebrating along
   her non-military status was very beneficial: “I          the way.
   think the fact that I am a civilian helps a lot.
   There are so many of the people that we work              Be patient
   with, contractors or military, but neither of those           “This is not going to be an overnight thing.”
   two groups can occupy the position that a civilian
   can. I can say things to the flags that the captains           Patience is necessary, participants say, be-
   can’t say to the flags, and yet the flags probably        cause change seldom happens quickly: “Even
   need to hear it.”                                         though it’s been about a year, [the change] is still
        That outside perspective may be particularly         in the early days, because this is going to be a
   important in a communications role, in which              long turn-around.”
   someone has to consistently press leadership for               Part of the reason that change is difficult in
   greater clarity: “it takes a very unique person to        large organizations is simply because of the scope
   sit in that position [and] I don’t see that very of-      involved: “Like the Navy, we’re a long-lead
   ten in the Navy. They have to be willing to dive          industry. If you decide you need to change to
   in, and they can’t be intimidated by the military         a different kind of a ship or battleship or
   structure. They have to be respectful, what               airplane or whatever, or training for your
   comes with rank, but they have to feel empow-             folks, it doesn’t happen tomorrow. You have
   ered that their job is to translate commander’s           to take time, and there’s got to be the resource
   intent down to the change agents.”                        allocation to do that.”

                                                                          CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM      32
Benchmarking Change Conclusion                                                            NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

        Unfortunately, sometimes organizations are          lesson, then we ought to document it. We ought
   impatient for results to happen quickly:                 to make it part of the guiding instruction. Let’s
   “Organizations need to be aware that there will          not keep relearning it each time the new master
   be pressure to show results, and some sort of            chief comes in and says ‘that isn’t how we did it at
   savings or benefit. But you have to understand           my last command.’ Let’s not do that anymore.”
   your command and how long it will take to do
   that … I am still seeing that with some of our new       Conclusion
   sites where we have recently implemented Enter-
   prise Air Speed, and we just finished the training            This study has examined communication
   and implementation in December … by March                practices associated with organizational change.
   people were saying ‘well, where are the results?’”       We conducted this study to assist the Navy in
        Not only are expectations of quick results          benchmarking Enterprise-wide change manage-
   unrealistic, those expectations may encourage            ment communication. We looked at the U.S. auto
   premature or faulty findings: “We can all come up        industry and Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE),
   with something to say where I have a savings             and we identified three over-arching themes that
   somehow … you can make data look and report              comprise effective organizational communica-
   just about anything that you want, and that isn’t        tion: Leadership Qualities, Delivery Strategies
   what we want. We want true improvement.”                 and Cultural Adaptations.
                                                                 Within each of these themes, our research
   Celebrate and repeat successes
                                                            uncovered successful practices and recommenda-
       “Successes give credibility to what we’re
       trying to do on a broader scale.”                    tions from experienced managers and leaders.
                                                            Using the words of our interviewees, we have
         Change is constant, participants say, and or-      provided perspectives and examples of change-
   ganizations need to be focused on how to sustain         related communication as seen from various
   changes and build on them. One of the ways to            points in the organization.
   sustain change is to celebrate wins along the way,            The data we gathered from our interviews
   especially early on:                                     weaves a patterned tapestry of an interrelated
         “In [a change] environment you have to cele-       strategy in which every thread plays an impor-
   brate every achievement, no matter how small, to         tant role. Thus, while change leaders may see
   break down the resistance.” Another participant          individual practices that they recognize in their
   said that “Part of it is developing some early wins.     own organizations, it is understanding and
   It’s very, very important to have some early wins        employing an entire change communication
   because if you don’t have that, then it’s all just       strategy, coalesced from the information pre-
                                   terrible and difficult   sented here, that will make the greatest
                                   and hard.”               contribution to successful communication for
    Copy what works Another strategy                        organizational change.
                                   for sustaining                How can the recipients use this report? First,
                                   change in the long       the Navy could use the framework and informa-
   term is learning from your successes: “There are         tion presented here to conduct a self-assessment
   golden opportunities to make an example. And             of its own change management communication
   once you have made an example that everybody             practices. A self-assessment tool could be devel-
   else can see, it makes it that much easier to do it      oped from this report, and an analysis could be
   somewhere else.”                                         conducted by reviewing documents, conducting
         One goal that Naval Aviation has is to repli-      surveys, and interviewing participants. (The auto
   cate what works: “Now that we are a little further       companies may find value in doing the same, us-
   down the road, we shouldn’t have to relearn eve-         ing the information gleaned here from others in
   rything from scratch. We should find a way to            their industry and from the Navy.)
   pick up a lesson and transport it to other places.            Second, the Navy could use this report as a
   So if we get the benefit of having just learned that     guide to evaluate, revise and reconfigure its ap-

                                                                       CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM        33
Benchmarking Change Conclusion                                                            NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

   proach to a communications strategy for Navy              sector organizations contemplating or undergo-
   Enterprise and Sea Enterprise.                            ing large-scale organizational change. They could
       Third, the Navy and the auto companies                undertake similar studies, assessments, and
   could continue the dialogue in two-way                    strategies.
   forums where each can explore best practices                   Academic researchers can use the results of
   and learn from others who face similar                    this research to inform existing change communi-
   management challenges.                                    cation theory, as well as develop communication
       Finally, the findings of this report have some        models to expand and further explicate research
   general applicability for other public and private        in this area.

   About the researchers

   Cynthia L. King, Ph.D.
       Dr. Cynthia L. King is Assistant Professor of Management Communication and Associate Director of the
   Center for Defense Management Reform at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. In addi-
   tion to her academic career, Dr. King worked extensively in the high tech industry in Seattle, WA. Prior to
   returning to complete her Ph.D. in 1995, she worked first as Director of Information Design and later as Di-
   rector of Business Development for CBI, Inc., a content management and Web development firm. Her recent
   work appears in the Journal of Business and Technical Communication and Public Administration Review. She
   holds a BA in English literature (1992), an MS in Technical Communication (1995), and a Ph.D. in Communi-
   cation (2004), from the University of Washington.

   Douglas A. Brook, Ph.D.
        Dr. Douglas A. Brook is Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Center for Defense Management
   Reform at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Prior to coming to NPS, he was Acting Di-
   rector of the U. S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial
   Management. His recent work has appeared in Public Administration Review, Public Budgeting & Finance, and
   he co-edited the book The Future of Merit: Twenty Years After the Civil Service Reform Act. He holds a BA in
   political science (1965) and a Master of Public Administration (1967) from the University of Michigan, and a
   Ph.D. in Public Policy (2001) from George Mason University.

   Timothy D. Hartge, M.A.
       Timothy D. Hartge is a Senior Lecturer of Managerial Communications in the School of Management,
   University of Michigan, Dearborn. In addition to his academic career, Hartge has extensive experience as a
   senior manager and publisher of business and automobile journals, both locally and nationally. His work
   experience includes working for Dow Jones, Wall Street Journal and American Express Publishing, and he
   writes for various secular journals on business and communications topics. He holds BA in Communications,
   Marketing and Advertising from Wayne State University, and a Master of Organization and Administration
   from the Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

                                                                        CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM      34
Benchmarking Change Appendix: Methods                                                  NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

                                                          managers (e.g., Directors, Managers, Navy offi-
   Appendix: Methods                                      cers). There were 34 participants total, spread
                                                          across Engineering, Manufacturing, Maintenance,
                                                          Communications, and Corporate Executives. All
   Theoretical Foundation                                 participants were assured of their confidentiality
        The theoretical foundation for this research      in the study and were only identified in the re-
   is drawn from grounded theory, a method in             port as an executive, senior manager, or manager
   which theory is derived from the data rather than      (See Table 2).
   a particular theory being imposed prior to the
   analysis. The researcher begins with transcripts       Procedures
   or field notes from interviews or ethnographic
                                                               In our study, we relied almost exclusively on
   observation, and then analyzes the data to tease
                                                          qualitative, semi-structured interviews. The
   out themes, patterns, and categories within
                                                          interviews were conducted primarily at the
   the responses.
                                                          interviewee’s office or conference room, but
        As Jones puts it, “rather than forcing data       two of the interviews were conducted by
   within logico-deductively derived assumptions          phone because of military field responsibilities
   and categories, research should be used to gener-      or schedule conflicts.
   ate grounded theory, which ‘fits’ and ‘works’ be-
                                                               We audio-taped all the interviews and tran-
   cause it is derived from the concepts and catego-
                                                          scribed them for analysis purposes. We imported
   ries used by social actors themselves to interpret
                                                          the transcripts into NVivo 2.0, qualitative re-
   and organize their worlds”2. This method was
                                                          search analysis software for managing data and
   originally developed by Glaser and Strauss in
                                                          generating themes.
   1967 because they were interested in closely
   linking theory to the data from it was generated.3          First, the primary researcher read over all
        In the interviews, we used Critical Incident      the transcripts to identify top-level, general
   Technique (CIT)4. CIT is a set of procedures used      themes. Following this first pass, there were
   for collecting direct observations of human be-        three general themes identified:
   havior that have critical significance for the par-         1. Leader qualities
   ticipants. In short, CIT is used as an interview            2. Delivery strategies
   technique where the informants are encouraged               3. Cultural adjustments
   to tell about organizational incidents (or tell sto-
   ries) instead of answering direct questions about           Second, the primary researcher went through
   more general topics—for example, information           the transcripts again, assigning more specific
   about what was in their corporate communica-           codes to individual passages in the transcripts.
   tion plan. The idea behind this method is that an      Simultaneous with the second round of coding,
   interviewee’s recollection of key events can pro-      the primary researcher organized the sub codes
   vide a rich context for examining strengths and        into one or more of the three primary themes,
   weakness of organizational performance.                listed above.
        We encouraged our respondents to share                 Next, the primary researcher reviewed all the
   their experiences, which provided the data for         sub-themes and refined the categories, so that
   drawing out key themes related to our research         each sub-theme was unique to only one of the
   questions. In our study, we asked participants to      major themes. Finally, a second researcher re-
   reflect and share stories related both to efforts      viewed the coded passages independently, identi-
   that were successful and unsuccessful in commu-        fying those that did not fit with the code that was
   nicating during organizational change.                 assigned. The two researchers then discussed
                                                          recoding those passages together, discarding
   Participants                                           those passages on which they could not reach
       Participants included executives (e.g., Vice       consensus. The coded passages that were left be-
   Presidents, Admirals), and senior managers/            came the basis for the research report.

                                                                    CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM        35
Benchmarking Change References                                                NPS-CDMR-GM-07-001

                                                    Stuart M. Klein, “A management communica-
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                                                            CENTER FOR DEFENSE MANAGEMENT REFORM     36

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