In the Drucker Foundation’s Leader to Leader (1999,) Harvard Business School professor John Kotter proposes one of my favorite visuals on the essence of noticeable results that bear witness to a leader’s vision of change:
This illustration encapsulates why some organizational change initiatives succeed while others never get off the ground or break down after a while. Kotter observes,
Results and vision can be plotted on a matrix that has four dimensions. Poor results and weak vision spell sure trouble for any organization. Good short-term results with a weak vision satisfy many organizations—for a while. A compelling vision that produces few results usually is abandoned. Only good short-term results with an effective, aligned vision offer a high probability of sustained success.
Idea for Impact: The only way a leader can produce a well-paced, sustainable, and transformational change is by mobilizing the people around her to appreciate the benefits for them in her vision of the desired future. Ongoing results oblige visibility into progress and will catalyze the organization’s commitments.
Read Kotter’s Leading Change (1996,) an influential missive on change management.