This Musical Theatre Legend has a lot to say About Change Management

It’s not enough to tell people where you’re going. You also need to share how you’re going to get there.

“Having just the vision’s no solution, everything depends on execution” – Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim, Broadway theatre’s dominant creative force for sixty years, could have been a change manager.

While he’s best known for “Sweeney Todd,” “Into the Woods” and “West Side Story,” he also knows the importance of having a plan.

Once you know why you’re changing and where you’re headed, it’s important to articulate how you’re going to get there.

People want to know how you’re going to achieve your brilliant vision.

This is the third key ingredient in your Shared Change Purpose.


Top tips

It may be early in the change journey, so you don’t need to – or can’t be – overly detailed.

Focus on the things people care about most: what can I expect, and when?

Maybe something like:

  • In the next six months, with your input, we’ll redesign some key finance and payroll processes to help us collaborate better
  • We’ll spend time testing them, with your support
  • This help us to be ready to use the new HR and Finance systems within 18 months

It’s important to put approximate timing around these steps. (Why? If it’s too far in the future, I might not be around; but if something is happening within six months, I’ll probably pay attention.)

Detail gives credibility to your plan.


What if I don’t have a plan yet, but I need to let people know change is coming?

This is common in large technology transformations that need to be announced years before people will see any real changes.

If that’s your challenge: think about how you’re going to involve people in creating the solution, and share that instead.

Change becomes possible when people think it’s achievable and they understand their role.


Congratulations! You have a compelling case for change

Now that you have your imperative, vision and solution, you’re ready to announce your change.

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