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Judo Management June 16, 2009

Posted by Tim Rodgers in Management & leadership, strategy.
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I’ve never studied judo, but it’s my understanding that one of its underlying foundations is the idea of using gravity and your opponent’s momentum to execute a throw. You achieve the desired result by applying leverage at the right place and expending very little of your own energy.

I’ve been involved in many change management efforts as an initiator/leader, willing participant, and victim, and I can surely say that it always goes more smoothly when there’s buy-in from the folks who have to live with the change. John P. Kotter’s book Leading Change (Harvard Business School Press, 1996) provides an excellent blueprint for creating and managing change in an organization. Kotter’s eight-stage process begins with “Establishing a Sense of Urgency.” I would put it this way: for change to happen, you have to convince people that the status quo is unacceptable. Once you persuade the team that they can’t stand still or continue on the same old path, you can use their openness to something different to generate momentum in a new direction. At that point the leader doesn’t have to provide all the energy to keep the team moving. The leader’s job becomes one of channelling the energy provided by the team’s embrace of change to reach the desired result.

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