Change the way your company thinks about change

Change the way your company thinks about change
October 7, 2014
I am pleased to introduce James Lam who will be guest blogging for us this week. Keep reading for his insights on change at the enterprise level.

As the saying goes, the only constant in life is change. However, building a company culture where change is unconditionally embraced is an enormous challenge.

It's easy to talk about change but difficult to do.

Adopting a comprehensive enterprise risk management program is an excellent example of this challenge. From strategic risk to operational risk, this process requires cooperation from every line of business within an organization.

In my experiences guiding companies across all major industries through this process, I've identified the following seven steps that must be taken in order to gain company-wide buy-in on big changes.

  1. Identify the needs and requirements of key stakeholders.
  2. People are much more willing to accept change when they know their priorities and self interests are being acknowledged and addressed.

  3. Communicate the overall vision and underlying rationale.
  4. If it isn't clear what goal the change is leading the company toward and why that's a good thing, it will be difficult to get mass buy-in for any type of change.

  5. Define the plan, roles, and action steps.
  6. When everyone knows exactly what is expected of them, it's not only easier to execute, but for there to be enthusiasm behind that execution.

  7. Develop consensus and organizational alignment.
  8. When all stakeholders have a say in the rollout of a plan, there is a shared sense of ownership. When people feel invested in something, they tend to give their best effort to see it through.

  9. Identify and resolve conflicts.
  10. There is no way to avoid disagreement when making major changes. But, if those disagreements are addressed immediately, all parties involved can move forward with a clear sense of purpose.

  11. Provide training and resource requirements.
  12. The proper training and resources for employees to successfully navigate a change removes one of the most powerful barriers to company-wide buy-in.

  13. Redesign performance measures and incentives.
  14. It's amazing how quickly employees will get on board with new responsibilities and expectations when there are incentives tied to meeting and exceeding them.

To survive, businesses need to be prepared to embrace big changes. Companies need to establish clear expectations and keep an open dialogue with employees. Help employees see the potential in change, and they will rise to the challenge.

James Lam

About the author

James Lam, President of James Lam & Associates, has over 25 years of experience in risk management and business development. Widely recognized as an early advocate of enterprise risk management, he is noted as the first ever Chief Risk Officer. James is the author of Enterprise Risk Management, which has ranked #1 best selling among 25,000 risk management titles on He is a contributing author of numerous books, including Modern Risk Management: A History and Derivatives Handbook. James has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Risk Magazine, CFO Magazine, and American Banker.