Leading change for sustainable infrastructure planning

Leading change for sustainable infrastructure planning

How can I lead for change?

"Do not believe that committed individuals, acting together, cannot change the world; indeed, it is the only thing which ever has." Margaret Mead

No matter what your position, everyone has the power to change. Every change starts with someone's decision to do something differently, i.e. an individual action.

  • Individuals can change their own mindset and become empowered
  • Empowered individuals can change companies', organisations' and institutions' mindsets
  • Changed companies, organisations and institutions can change the industrial sector, political and economic mindsets Ainger, Bath MSc 2001

The key is to identify what you want to change, when is the best time to change and how to make change happen. You also need to understand what is in your personal power to change and what are the opportunities for change.

Consider your zones of influence - how far can you spread your message?

Early in the project lifecycle and at the start of each stage are the best times to instigate change. They are good opportunities to influence team members, partners, clients and project outcomes.

For change to happen, you will need to challenge business as usual. Everyone can initiate and drive change, no matter what your position may be.

For best restults, tailor your approach to suit your audience and your opportunity

Some things to consider when attempting to instigate change include:

  • Do you fully understand the problem? – Why is change necessary?
  • What are the barriers to change and how can you overcome them? Are new skills and regulations required?
  • How far are you willing to go in order to achieve the change you want to see?
  • What is your key message? – You need to make a business case for change
  • Do you have sufficient and appropriate examples to support your argument?
  • Do you need to research different approaches to change before acting? Investigate what are the best methods of communication
  • Who do you need to speak to and who needs to be involved?
  • What is important to them and what is your relationship with them? – Tailor your message to suit, choosing the right language for the situation
  • How are you going to review progress of the changes you implement?

The key steps you will need to follow to achieve change are outlined below: (See also Kotter's Eight Steps to Change)

  • Establish your point of view – articulate your different new ideas
  • Identify your target audience – and find supporters above, below and at the same level as you
  • Identify champions – to help you communicate your ideas
  • Communicate your ideas – in the right language
  • Achieve some quick wins – create results and stories of success to persuade the majority
  • Keep up the pace of change – to make your changes business as usual
  • Reflect and review – if this approach isn't working, take steps to improve effectiveness

Further reading:

Kotter, J (1996) Leading Change Shapiro, A (2003) Creating Contagious Commitment
Ainger, C (2007) Staff values as enablers for change – 'volunteering' for sustainability; W Pickford Sustainable Development edition of AMED's Journal 'Organisations and People'
Hamel, G (2000) Waking Up IBM – How a Gang of Unlikely Rebels Transformed Big Blue