Keys to Transformational Change: Focus, Aim and Reinforce

Author By Jim Lara
keys to transformational change - compass with "change"

Over the past several months, I’ve addressed transformational change management and what it means within the boundaries of business aviation.

As we wrap up the final three keys in our series—which address “focusing,” “aiming” and then “reinforcing”—let’s quickly recap the first seven.

Key 1: Create gripping urgency.

Key 2: Develop alliances.

Key 3: Define your touchstones.

Key 4: Clearly describe what “winning” looks like.

Key 5: Get people to “own their future” via empowerment.

Key 6: Broaden your “survival change” leadership team via inclusion.

Key 7: Build “winning momentum.”

Key 8: Maintain Laser-like Focus

Remember those initial goals you set for the organization? Well, you’re almost there! You’re winning. People are feeling better. And the personnel turnover has come to a halt.

Yet, as we covered in Key 7, one of the outcomes of winning is that your boss will begin to take notice. He or she may start asking you to take on other projects and tackle new challenges.

Please, by all means, refrain from saying “yes” to anything that will divert your all-important level of focus.

It’s vitally important to stay committed to your transformational goals and keep the“pedal to the metal.” Don’t become distracted by taking on additional tasks that will only serve to weaken your focus.

Continue to drive forward until success becomes the cultural norm. Three successes become five. Five successes become 10, and so on.


Key 9: Aim Higher, Higher and Higher

Staying laser-focused and winning doesn’t give you permission to back off or become complacent. Because, in business aviation, we know what complacency can do to a flight department.

You must continue to stay alert and “look over your shoulder.” In this scenario, having a little bit of paranoia is a virtue—it keeps you on your game.

Complacency = Failure

How many of you remember the Lockheed JetStar, our industry’s first corporate jet?

In the early 60s, it was considered the Cadillac of business travel. With its distinctive,four-engine arrangement at the tail and the wing-mounted “slipper-style” fuel tanks, it represented a new class of business jet.

The JetStar was thought by many to be “best thing since sliced bread.” But, not long after, other manufacturers started competing with that success model, and, within just a decade, the JetStar was considered merely “okay.”

Today it’s in the boneyard.

What was great yesterday is okay today, and that same, once-high level of performance is totally unacceptable tomorrow.

That means we’ve got to raise the performance bar all of the time.

The operating principle is that when your team starts winning, the momentum catches on. And your team will embrace your challenge to aim ever higher. They won’t disappoint you.


Perfectionism is an Aspiration, Not a Destination

In business aviation, we sometimes think we’re pretty darned good. Some might even call themselves perfectionists.

I hope you’re not one of them.

Instead, I hope you view “perfection” as something you aspire to, and that you allow yourself to achieve interim goals along the way.

Perfectionism should be an aspiration, something that you set your sights on but can never be reached.

Because, if perfection is the only level of performance that you will accept, you’re going to have a pretty lonely life. Absolute perfectionism actually demotivates organizations.

At this stage in your organization’s transformation, you only want to motivate. Set the performance bar, achieve, reset the bar higher, achieve and repeat this cycle over and over again.

Celebrate the organization’s ever-increasing levels of accomplishment. And, remember that having fun along the way is an essential element of transformational change.


Key 10: Reinforce the What and Why

Okay, you’ve made it to the top. You’ve successfully transformed your business aviation organization.

So now what?

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

It’s time to reinforce the message—to delve into the “what” and the “why” (your touchstones from Key 3). Regularly review with your team the journey you’re on.

Ona regular basis, you’ll have to put everything in perspective for them. When they can see and understand the whole picture, they’ll be even more energized.

But don’t be surprised if you send out an email in that regard and your team members don’t seem to “get” the message. You’ve got to use various forms of communication to capture people’s attention and make them see the big picture.

Our advertising friends on Madison Avenue tell us about the “Rule of 7,” which reminds us that we don’t actually recall a message until we’ve read or heard or seen it at least seven times.

So, as team leaders, we need to remember that our people need to hear our communications seven times before they absorb the message and begin to take action.

As you make headway through this process of transformation, the organization is going to need some real cultural cornerstones. Here are three that we at Gray Stone Advisors find useful during our change management projects:

  1. Visionary innovation –  Encourage the sharing of ideas
  2. Promote stretch goals – Challenge people to stretch their goals
  3. Celebrate achievement – You cannot do it alone so continue to develop your leadership

Organizational Folklore: The Story of your “Tribe”

Lastly, I encourage you to create some “organizational folklore.” By that, I mean share stories about others that can be passed down from your more tenured professionals to the up-and-comers.

For example, memorialize the story about the first polar routing trip completed in your brand-new G650. Create stories around the most pivotal events that have truly shaped the organization

You don’t have to carve an actual Totem Pole, but foster that team spirit and “tribal knowledge” with the more junior members of the organization. Get to the really important stories about who you are, at the organization’s core, and why and how you do your work.

This is an important way to bring your team together. To provide an insider experience. To pass on the deep sense of mission, drive, and commitment that it takes to believe day after day, to work the long hours and achieve that brighter future.


You’ve Got It!

There you have it, all 10 keys to effective organizational transformation. The upshot is that transformational change isn’t easy, but if you take it in steps and follow the keys as I’ve laid them out, it’s completely achievable.


Next Step

These communications with you are always a two-way street. I look forward to hearing from you on these topics as much as I hope you appreciate my input. So, please, in the response field below, let me hear back from you regarding your experiences with any aspect of organizational realignment.

And, as always, if you need any help, we’re here for you.