Mastery of Change Performance

Updated: Oct 4, 2018




Kotter outlines the key differences between leadership and management: “Management is about coping with complexity by maintaining order and consistency in systems, products, and processes like quality and profitability. Leadership, on the other hand, is about coping with change: adapting to the realities of a dynamic and ever volatile business world.” In other words, effective leadership is all about the mastery of change. Change in today’s world is a necessity, and coping with change requires strong leadership and strong management at every level of the organization.



Put very simply, change at any level involves the following actions:

  1. Determine what needs to be done

  2. Ensure that it’s done

  3. Ensure that it’s done

Accomplishing these tasks effectively is a combined function of leadership and management skills. Mastery of change performance requires being the mastermind, yet engaging fully with the heart and soul.


The majority of organizational change or transformation efforts fail (Kotter). They may achieve short-term progress, but they do not lead to improved results and sustained impact. Successful transformation is so difficult precisely because it involves changing both “mindsets” and “heartsets.”



Process vs. Performance


Change, therefore, is not just a process to manage. It is a performance aimed at producing the desired results and delighting its intended audience.


A plan specifies what has to happen. While a script conveys a plan, it also addresses the emotional aspects and suggests how to bring the plan to life. Steps dictate sequence, flow, and timing. Attention to the scene considers the broader impact and stresses the experience of being there. While doing can be just going through the motions or fulfilling tasks, acting requires a total commitment and needs imagination, creativity, and authenticity to have impact. Too often in processes, creativity and fun are driven out in favor of efficiency and control. Performances, in contrast, aim to delight in their delivery. When successful, they inject life and energy into all involved. Successful transformations, therefore, require a mastery of change performance.


Change Performance: The Framework


While there are countless variations of change models, their foundation can be traced back to Kurt Lewin’s seminal classic model of change: Unfreeze—Change—Freeze.


While many authors have chosen to elaborate and add numerous steps, the real power lies in keeping the steps simple and making them practical. The change performance framework is applicable at any level, from personal to organizational to global. It includes three scenes:

  1. Launching Change

  2. Mobilizing Change

  3. Anchoring Change

Although many claim that change is inevitably continuous, successful change in the organizational context must in fact be segmented and treated as cycles of change—each including the three scenes.


Just as in a performance, you must open the curtains, get on stage to dazzle and delight your audience, and enjoy the applause when curtains close. Only then do you move on to the next performance.


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