Change Leadership: A Series on Frameworks for Driving Sustainable Change

change leadership education empowerment engagement framework
Advancing Change

Change is a rather all-encompassing word in the world of work. It can represent a number of ways something becomes different such as a plan turn-around and going a new direction; a small alteration to an existing practice or situation; a different approach to a problem; a new way of thinking; a new process, practice, or behavior; a new or altered strategy or priority; a new design; or a complete transformation. 

Most of us start off on a change journey with enthusiasm and a belief in what is possible. Ideas are generated, sometimes solutions are tested, and just perhaps we reach a point of implementation. Yet, at some point, a large majority of us see that change effort fall apart as evidenced by greater than 50% of strategic plans not being implemented or 70% of transformations failing. 

Why is change hard?

Why do change efforts so often fail to be completed or last? What are key components leaders should consider in their change initiatives? How can we approach change in a way that promotes a lasting improvement?

In this series of articles, I will discuss several topics to give insight to the above questions. I’ll start with basic frameworks for how to approach change at any level including individual, group, or organization. The first framework is represented as interconnected building blocks for change. Each has its own purpose and value but together they create an interdependent whole for sustainable change. The blocks, thought of as actions and behaviors, include Educate, Engage, and Empower. 

A Framework for Achieving Sustainable Change - 3 E’



The foundational building block of “Educate” has the action of building knowledge. In almost any kind of change you need knowledge, information, idea generation, deeper understanding, decision-making, skill building, or any combination of these. This is purposeful to ensure the right capabilities exist across those involved in the change. Which leads us to the next building block.


At the next level, is “Engage”. This component of the pyramid includes commitment and development. If there is change affecting a group, leaders must lead by being committed both to the change and to development of knowledge building of their own and that of others. If the change is at an individual level, there is still a requirement to be committed to the effort and one’s own development. This work also facilitates and encourages interconnections across individuals and groups because knowledge is its most powerful when shared. And sharing, committing, and developing provides a foundation for our top level.


At the top level is “Empower”. Here, we pursue culture optimization such as trust, accountability, and active learning from failures and successes. When we engage others and demonstrate commitment to change, we have the opportunity to enhance trust. This means trust we have each other’s best interests at heart as well as trust that there will be follow-through. Accountability is increased as we share knowledge, create capability in others, and obtain agreement to move forward together in the work. People who do this are far more likely to hold themselves and each other accountable for fulfilling their commitments and ensuring the change has staying power. And, in the process there is always learning. An empowered and optimized culture will be open to learning and bouncing back together from failure as well as sharing successes.

As you can see each component builds on and informs the success of the other. Each change need, the setting, and desired outcome is unique. Such is the nature of complex systems. This is why frameworks can provide guiding structures for achieving your aim.


Please keep an eye out for a deeper dive on each of these building blocks and more related to change leadership. I look forward to an opportunity to hear your thoughts, experiences, and feedback. Schedule a call now for a free assessment of your opportunities for how to make change stick:  .

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