03
Apr
10

The Lane Bridge of Change

There are many models to explain and effect change. Most of them are complicated and comprehensive, providing all the information leaders need to understand the intricacies involved with any change effort. They are great roadmaps, but most miss the subtle elements that can mean the difference between success and failure.

Friday, I had a terrific conversation with my friend Micheal Lane. He outlined a different kind of change framework, one that facilitates connections between different parts of the company. Models can miss the connections between the top and the bottom of organizations. Lane’s bridge addresses these connections.

Lane creates a change continuum between the C-suite and the front lines. The primary tasks of the CEO are intellectual, setting the direction for the organization. The front line generally reacts from an emotional base to the events that happen at their level. The layers in between are a mixture of the two.

The CEO creates value through intellectual tasks. S/he sets strategy for the company, integrating the relevant elements to create a success plan. The plan takes on life with specific tactics and the way the C-suite sees the strategy being executed. All of this intellectual activity focuses on positioning the company for success.

On the other hand, the front line is most affected by how individual events affect them. They have the direct connection and most impact with customers. Being in the bowels of the organization, these people rarely have a clear view of the overall strategy, so daily activities have a larger impact and day-to-day decisions are often based on local conditions.

Effective change requires all of the layers to work effectively together and the Lane Bridge provides a way to coordinate those efforts. Three elements are key: Strategy, Identity, and Engagement. These elements build from the ends of the continuum and form a bridge between the C-suite, front line, and the rest of the organization.

Strategy is the purview of the C-suite. They have the perspective to see and evaluate the critical elements at work in the environment. Executive leadership can assess the market place and competitors and match the company capabilities to the opportunities they see. Their job is to set the direction for the rest of the team.

At the other end of the continuum, employee engagement is key. The leaders on the front line – the people with the most impact on execution – want to have a reason to be connected and committed to the company. Emotional bonds are critical for effective execution.  The systems in place should continually reinforce and reward the desired actions and reinforce ongoing commitment.

Company identity is a collective effort. If strategy is the anchor on the CEO side of the bridge and engagement anchors the front line side, then company identity forms the spans between the ends. Strong identity is created when strategy is transformed into a clear vision and a brand promise. This requires constant communication and conversation within the company to clarify and adjust messages and actions to align the entire company. Company identity defines the organization and is a critical element for success – especially in this era of social networking.

Leaders can use the Lane Bridge to make change more effective. The Bridge provides clear roles for everyone to play. It’s a framework where heart counts as much as brains. The leaders who use this structure can make change happen faster and more effectively.

If you need to drive change, don’t forget to use the bridge!

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2 Responses to “The Lane Bridge of Change”


  1. April 4, 2010 at 7:09 am

    Buckley, your blog always nails a big idea for me and sharing Michael Lane’s work was a huge gift.

    As a coach, I’ve been trained (Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara) to help clients build bridges from what is, to what can be. Adding the lanes, and clarifying roles, is a brilliant way of sorting. What a gift!

  2. April 4, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Thanks Betsy!

    Micheal is a unique talent and his point of view often adds a new dimension to old issues!


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