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The four Queens of change

Any enthusiast of the game of Chess understands the power of the queen. And indeed, in the real world, women have too much power which many rarely recognize and optimize. When it comes to organizational transformation through change, Marshak suggests four key ideas – which I have called the queens of change.

  1. Fix and maintain
  2. Move and relocate
  3. Build and develop
  4. Liberate and recreate

Fix and maintain. When a car part breaks down, you examine the options. Can the part be fixed and maintained to continue performing or it is beyond repair? Any car part beyond repair is replaced!

Take a case of a software system, you could continue upgrading the software with new patches. But time reaches where further patching cannot address the existing gaps. Many of you recall the decision by Microsoft to put Windows 7 off the market officially on 14th January 2020, implying any user of the operating system can no longer receive updates beyond that date.  Given the technology advancements and increasing sophistication of users, any further updates and patching of Windows 7 would not fix all the identified or reported gaps or challenges of the operating system. The best decision was to drop Windows 7 app altogether.  Time reaches when something cannot be fixed and maintained. As a leader, you must recognize when to fix and maintain, and when it is no longer viable to do so. Great leaders have this awareness.

Move and relocate. This entails changing the system altogether. For example, should you continue in your current office location or change, should you continue in sourcing your internal audit department or outsource, or decide whether to change the organizational structure or not. Move and relocate change decisions are strategic and must get the right support from the top.

Build and develop. Involves improving the existing setup or not. Do you add more people to get the project completed faster? This change question is more tactical.

And finally, liberate and recreate is the most advanced element of change. It involves transforming the entire organization including changing the strategy, structure, culture, and management systems to become more nimble, new, and agile to meet the requirements of the present times. This involves radical innovative thinking and executive ownership.

You need to start by assessing the current conditions to understand the context and the environment to understand the ideal change queen to deploy. Failure to choose properly risks loss of competitive advantage and market share. You must focus on optimizing benefits and optimizing return on investment.

I have referred to the above key change ideas as “queens” for a reason. If you understand and apply the ideas, you will become a great change agent and transformational leader. Knowing when to apply what is essential to optimize resources and create sustainable value. Imagine staying in a relationship that is destructive instead of “liberating and recreating”?

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, Mr. Strategy 2021. All rights reserved.

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