The Theme of Communication
NOTE: This is the seventh in a series of Weekly Briefings on nine major themes for implementing organizational change found in academic journals. We are looking for clues to answer the question, “Why do some men’s discipleship programs succeed while others languish or fail?” For now, I leave it to you to apply these general summaries to your men’s discipleship program. You can also apply the themes more broadly to change your business, your church, or even your family.
Billy Graham was once asked, “What is the secret to your success?” He answered, “Prayer and publicity.” He put his trust in God to produce the fruit, but worked hard to get the word out. So it is in building a sustainable men’s discipleship ministry.
The seventh theme to successfully implement a men’s discipleship program is communication. Here are factors that have been proven to increase implementation effectiveness.
A communication plan. A pervasive, organization-wide communication plan that reinforces the change at every opportunity is an important factor in implementing an organizational change (Freedman, 2003; Kotter, 1995; Okumus, 2003). Kotter (1996) suggested that communication focus on the vision, use simple language, use highly visual symbols, be done at every opportunity, be highly repetitive, be reflected in the leader’s example, address problem areas directly, and have a strong listening component.
Publicize benefits of change. Successful implementers cited communicating the benefits of the change in the organization as a success factor (McNish, 2002).
Publicize near term successes. It is important to plan for some short terms wins within one to two years to keep people encouraged, but declaring overall victory too early can harm the change initiative which may take five to ten years (Kotter, 1995). Communicating the early success of the change widely is a factor in the long-term success of the implementation (McNish, 2002).
In summary, having a pervasive, organization-wide communication plan is a major theme in implementing organizational change. Related implementation factors include publicizing the benefits of change and publicizing short term successes. Next time, the theme of resistance will be introduced.
For the glory of Christ and no other reason,
Alexander, L. (1985). Sucessfully implementing strategic decisions. Long Range Plannning, (18)3, 91-97.
Ayas, K., & Zeniuk, N. (2001). Project-based learning: building communities of reflective practitioners. Management Learning, 32(1), 61-76.
Beer, M. (2003). Why total quality management programs do not persist: the role of management quality and implications for leading a TQM transformation. Decision Sciences, 34(4), 623-642.
Charan, R. & Colvin, G. (1999). Why CEOs fail. Fortune 139(12), pp. 68-75.
Freedman, M. (2003). The genius is in the implementation. Journal of Business Strategy, 24(2), 26-31.
Houston-Philpot, K. (2002). Leadership development partnerships at Dow Corning corporation. Journal of Organizational Excellence, 22(1), 13-27.
Johnson, K., Hays, C., Center, H., & Daley, C. (2004). Building capacity and sustainable prevention innovations: a sustainability planning model. Evaluation and Program Planning, 27(2), 135-149.
Kotter, J. P. (1995). Leading change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading change: why transformation efforts fail. Harvard Business Review, 73(2), 59-67.
Kotter, J. (1999). Ten observations. Executive Excellence, August, 1999, 15-16.
Kotter, J. P. (2001). What leaders really do. Harvard Business Review, 79(11), 85-96.
LeBrasseur, R., Whissell, R., & Ojha, A. (2002). Organisational learning, transformational leadership and implementation of continuous quality improvement in canadian hospitals. Australian Journal of Management, 27(2), 141-162.
Miller, D. (2002). Successful change leaders: what makes them? what do they do that is different? Journal of Change Management, 2(4), 359-368.
McNish, M. (2002). Guidelines for managing change: a study of their effects on the implementation of new information technology projects in organization. Journal of Change Management, 2(3), 201-211.
Okumus, F. (2003). A framework to implement strategies in organizations. Management Decision, 41(9), 871-882.
Repenning, N. P. (2002). A simulation-based approach to understanding the dynamics of innovation implementation. Organization Science: A Journal of the Institute of Management Sciences, 13(2), 109-127.
Zaleznik, A. (2004). Managers and leaders: are they different? Harvard Business Review, (82)1, 74-81.