3 Steps for Introducing Change Every Leader Needs to Know

Think back to the last time you tried to change something at work or in your life.

You were burdened with a new idea and convinced that it was going to be the silver bullet to solve all your woes. You were going to be the hero. Life was never going to be the same again. And everything was going to go up and to the right.

Perhaps you’re an outlier and it always goes as planned, but if you’re like me (and probably the majority of us), you’ve had your fair share of falling flat on your face.

Unless your change effort leads you closer to fulfilling the vision of your organization, you’re wasting your time. You’re introducing change that will merely be overturned at a later time. You are allowing yourself to settle with mediocrity. After all, isn’t good the enemy of great?

This is precisely why, instead of creating my own version of the eight-step change management process by John Kotter, I want to outline a three-step process for introducing change. These three steps will help you evaluate every new or foreign idea to anticipate if it is a good fit for your organization, and then determine how exactly it will affect your vision, strategy, and values. Let’s start with the first step: performing a SWOT analysis.

Step One: SWOT Analysis

The next time you or one of your team members comes up with a new idea, take some time before presenting it and run it through a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. This is a great way to systematically think through and discern the broader impact that these ideas will have, while keeping the unique DNA of your organization (vision, strategy, and values) at the forefront.

When you put every new idea through a SWOT analysis, you will discipline yourself and your team to design initiatives proactively around the strengths and opportunities that this new idea presents for your organization, rather than as a reaction to weaknesses and threats from inside or outside.

Step Two: Conversation Checklist

If, after putting your new idea through a SWOT analysis, you still feel strongly about the benefits that this will bring to your organization, the next step is to determine who you need to talk to in order for the new idea to stick.

List the key departments and teams, as well as the decision makers and power custodians. When introducing any change, it’s also important to consider how it will affect the influencers—whether or not they have formal authority—since they will play a crucial role in the success of the idea’s implementation. So be sure to list them as well. Also systematically think through who is going to be directly affected by this new change initiative, and how they will be affected.

Step Three: Team Idea Audit

Once you finishing listing everyone, schedule time to have a conversation with each department, team, and influencer that you marked as having a direct or indirect relationship with the new idea. When together, the focus of the meeting would be to collaborate on the idea and get their thoughts by doing a SWOT analysis together. Instead of sharing your SWOT analysis with them, do a new one together with each point person. Help them answer each quadrant by thinking through how the idea will affect their team.

Once you complete step three, and you feel that moving ahead with this idea is best for your organization, then finish this three-step process by writing out your next steps for today, next month, in three months, in six months, and a year from now.

Conclusion

Any change you try to implement will face one of three fates:

1) It’ll never get off the ground because it will be seen as a bacteria, virus, or foreign matter and subsequently be rejected.

2) The change will happen, but because it doesn’t fit into your vision, strategy, and values, you will inevitably end up changing things again.

3) The change will move you closer to the vision of your organization because you started with discernment by using the three steps for introducing change.

These steps to discerning whether or not you want to begin the change process are important on a few levels. First of all, they are a practical way to evaluate new ideas that will cause change in your organization. Second, they provide a process to evaluate the extent to which those new ideas will work in your organization. Third, and most important, this approach ensures that you filter every new idea through your organization’s vision, strategy, and values.

**This was a modified excerpt from Daniel Im’s No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry. You can learn more at danielim.com/nosilverbullets

About the Author:

Daniel Im is the Director of Church Multiplication for NewChurches.com and LifeWay Christian Resources. He serves as Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville, TN. Daniel is the author of No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry also the co-author of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (2nd ed.) with Ed Stetzer. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in churches ranging from 100 to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. You can find him online at DanielIm.com.


  • I cleaned out a closet, never dreaming there was an influencer who considered herself the owner of the closet. Man, oh man, did I pay. She still hates me.
    But now we can find the 18 rolls of tape we bought because we could never find the tape. And the 3 hammers. And the six packages of tripple A’s.
    AND we never get stuck with tacks and push pins when we grope around in there.
    And the custodian now has 5 nearly new paint brushes.
    Etc.
    It was worth it to me. One hater. Small price to pay. I feel sorry for her, though.

  • Pedro

    Good stuff! A SWOT analysis is a great way to objectively get to the root of what the threats and weaknesses are. It can be even more powerful if it’s facilitated by someone from outside the group or team. Someone who can lead an objective conversation and who benefits nothing.