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Acts of gun violence against innocents, particularly mass shootings, are generally agreed as heinous. Yet, government’s effort to legislate on the issue is arguably failing. This article explores an alternative approach to alleviating the issue, specifically through an integration of Kaplan and Norton’s leading practice approach to strategic management (The Execution Premium, 2008) and Kotter and Cohen’s leading practice change management methodology, (The Heart of Change, 2002 and The Heart of Change Field Guide, 2005).
This article is not intended to be comprehensive; it aims to introduce leading practice management techniques to the dialogue on this complicated, heartbreaking issue. The Kotter and Cohen method’s integration is important because it emphasizes cultural and behavioral change. This is critical because, ultimately, what will reduce incidences are societal and individual decisions around prevention, and individual decisions including and leading up to pulling the trigger.
Phase I. Set the Strategy and Create a Climate for Change
The objectives of this first phase are to increase urgency to take action, determine a guiding team and create a strategy statement. Urgency arguably currently exists. In determining a guiding team, it is important to enlist leaders who are fully committed, well respected and have the power and influence to realize the strategy. In creating the strategy statement, first determine foundational guidance: purpose/mission, critical values, desired future state or vision, and root causes and deterrents.
|Purpose / Mission|
|Answers the Question||Why do we need to do something?|
|Answers the Question||What do we hold most important?|
|Desired Future Results/Vision|
|Examples||How do we envision the ultimate long-term goal?|
|Root Causes and Deterrents|
|Answers the Question||What are the causal factors of mass shootings and what are the causal deterrents of mass shootings?|
The strategy statement answers the questions:
Phase II. Translate the Strategy and Engage and Enable
This phase focuses on transforming strategy into action plans by specifying objectives and measures. Once objectives and measures are determined, initiatives are identified to support their realization. This phase involves communicating for buy-in, empowering action, increasing engagement, and broadening the base of commitment to realizing the strategy. The media can potentially support this by being informed of the vision, strategy and goals. Also, they can keep the issue newsworthy by shifting from incident-based reporting to monitoring progress to strategic achievement.
Phase III. Create Plans and Continue to Engage and Enable
This phase focuses on creating the financial control process. Budgets typically serve to coordinate and control, particularly in decentralized circumstances; however, the “Beyond Budgeting” movement argues that budgets have fundamental flaws including stifling innovation and reducing flexibility needed by leaders and implementers. Differing approaches should be considered in determining how best to align to strategy realization. This phase’s change management steps are enabling action, whereby leaders help diminish barriers to strategy realization, and meaningfully celebrating accomplishments to maintain urgency on the strategy and vision.
Phase IV. Monitor, Learn, and Sustain
Put the strategy and supporting plans into action, conduct review sessions, and make needed adjustments. Those accountable for initiatives report progress to the plan by reporting progress to objectives and measures. Open collaboration to problem-solve and continuously improve must be emphasized. This phase includes the change management step focused on not letting up.
Phase V. Test, Adapt, and Sustain
In this phase, develop and analyze reports (e.g. statistical analyses to determine correlations – or lack thereof – as a means to validate and quantify links between investments). Conduct a strategy review session in order to determine if an incremental or transformational strategy refresh is needed in tracking to the vision. From a change management perspective, focus on “making the change stick,” i.e. embedding the strategy and vision culturally. Leaders must recognize, reward and model aligned behaviors to make the change “the way we are here.”
In moving towards a solution to alleviate the issue of mass shootings, the integrated framework aims to add to the conversation of how to stem a serious problem that ebbs and flows in policy urgency and has yet to be solved through legislation. The framework focuses on establishing a strategy – not a confusing, hard to remember jumble of goals and objectives, but a clearly articulated strategy – and leveraging the strategy to guide unified, coordinated, and concerted action across diverse stakeholders. Importantly, the framework integrates behavior change because what will ultimately reduce incidences are societal and individual decisions around prevention, and individual decisions including and up to pulling the trigger.
Author: Catherine Howard, MPM, is a specialist in strategy and change. She can be reached at [email protected]