A burning platform has less to do with fear than with courage !

A successful change program needs a burning platform, but it has nothing to do with fear, but all with courage.

Without a burning platform it can be difficult to break the inertia in organizations. There are 1001 (good) reasons not to change.

The goal of a burning platform is for senior management to convey the message to the organization in very simple terms that there are only 2 choices:

  • Or the organizations adapts urgently
  • Or the organization will sooner or later pay the ultimate prize and disappears

According to a study of Innosight/Foster 75% of today’s S&P500 companies will no longer be there in 15 years from now.

To make a transformation program based on a burning platform successful top-management will clearly have to explain, not only WHY the change is needed, but also WHAT change is needed, HOW and WHEN.

A very powerful way of creating buy-in for the change to come is to link back to customers. If we can clearly illustrate that the customers want different service levels than today, the financial results may be as good as they want, the current status quo is not going to be sustainable.

The entire executive team needs to be aligned and should speak throughout the entire process with one voice, repeat the key message and listen to valuable input from the organization.

Be ready to handle the resistance to change, dispel fears and manage expectations well.

A huge misconception is that a burning platform is about fear. It has more to do with courage to anticipate well long before the possible explosion.

Current financial results may look OK, but may not always indicate undercurrents. So listen well to visionary leaders inside and outside your industry and closely monitor customer aspirations.

A burning platform change project is NOT a story of disaster, but a story of opportunities not to miss.

70% of all change programs fail! To increase the chances of success:

  1. Set clear goals. A burning platform may motivate you to jump, but successfully implemented changes are more about running towards something than running away from a fire.
  2. Assemble a (small) dominant coalition to show the way forward
  3. Just do it!
  4. Constantly align with senior management
  5. Celebrate incremental successes
  6. Sustain

Don’t create panic, but create commitment about the inevitable.

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