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Leading Change Is a Journey | Part 1


Editor’s Note: This article is the first part of the series titled “How To Succeed at Leading People Through Change.”

Change in any organization is currently becoming the norm of their structure and tackling internal and external issues. Moving to a new market or introducing a new product or service or even a feature is considered a change, also introducing a new process or policy or guideline inside the company is also considered a change. Whether change is small or big, it needs to be managed and tackled properly, and leaders should accept that managing change should become part of the culture to continuously build on and improve instead of considering it once in a time thing that we tackle and close (Robert H. Schaffer 2017). 

In managing change, considering the different parties and tools involved is a matter of importance, while it’s critical also to consider a full model to do so. This is where you can oversee what is involved and what areas need to be identified and tackled to have a sound and integrated approach towards leading a change that is led and managed completely, with flexibility and enough room for learning and improvement (EFQM 2020). 

The world is continuously changing, and now it’s faster than ever, with the fourth industrial revolution, new and more technologies and digital disruption being presented and offered around the world. These affect almost all organizations regardless of the sector and region they work in (Ravin Jesuthasan  and Marie S. Holmstrom 2016).

While these effects can be considered as opportunities or threats or both, leaders still need to align them with internal strengths and areas for improvement to fulfill strategies and identify a complete strategic direction to act upon the external environment using capabilities now and in the future. All of this means that we are in a storm of changes, and those who succeed and sustain are the ones who can lead these changes efficiently and effectively. Leaders need to be ready, not only by using their past experiences but also by absorbing the changes around them. This also means developing their skills, competencies, and ways of doing work to manage the current era’s workforce, embed innovation in how things are done, and tweak challenges for change to succeed (The KPI Institute 2019).

Leading Change Is a Journey

Most CEOs focused on leading change in cost cutting, like Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn and JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon. However, Fred Hassan, the CEO of Schering-Plough who undertook multiple acquisitions, focused on leading change in sales performance improvement because he believed it would positively affect other business areas and support the long-term initiatives. As a CEO and top leader, he believed that being the one who unites the business behind the right purpose and direction, cares about people, and provides needed support is the important aspect that supports the growth of the business and the harmony between people. Differences in culture among people shouldn’t be regarded as a disadvantage in terms of managing salespeople or a reason to change strategies in managing sales as they are usually extroverted and understand what needs to be done. They even care more about their linkages with the company and how they are being rewarded and cared for (Thomas A. Stewart and David Champion 2006). 

It all starts by identifying the need for change and creating the importance of such a change that is bought equally by all people inside the organization. Such attention to change is shared as high enough. No less than 75% of company management believe that change is needed and that the current business can longer sustain itself. The change any organization wants to undertake needs to be aligned with a sound and clear vision that is integrated into the change they want to happen. However, achieving a vision can take time, and during the journey, people need to realize they are doing well and that they are achieving a part of this vision and getting rewarded for such positive progress. Accordingly, setting clear milestones along the way, with clear results to be achieved and shared with everyone, is needed among change teams. This will boost motivation, collaboration, productivity, and satisfaction for teams and team members involved (John P. Kotter 1995). 

Defects are easy to be created during change; thus control gates need to be identified and constraints need to be eliminated. This includes acting upon any of such constraints in a timely manner and making sure that decisions are taken in alignment with the change with no fear of such decisions as everyone agrees that they are needed to move forward efficiently (The KPI Institute 2021). 

Leading change also affects leaders by expecting them to lead change and be ready for such a change. Leaders may act slowly trying to absorb change and reflect on their management style. This involves an evaluation of how to manage work during or after change. Meanwhile, a failure in reacting efficiently to the change may cause damages in the relationship between leaders in the organization and will put pressure on all efforts made to succeed in any transformation or change, as they may not be ready to deal with it or don’t realize what is needed to be done. So, it’s not only the organization that requires transformation and change to meet new needs or changes in the external environment. Another layer in this change is the company leaders who need to work in parallel and identify what is needed from them to change or to create to be the right ambassadors for the needed change and also be able to manage it (Cassandra Frangos 2018).

Leaders need to acknowledge the past to build on the future and drive the new change forward. This includes learning from past experiences, whether they are driving a change in their current company or even joining a new company and starting a new change. It doesn’t mean that previous challenges and failures done by other leaders don’t relate to current leaders trying to drive a new change. However, all leaders need to acknowledge the past, the disappointments of employees, and their lack of trust in new initiatives. Learning from the past includes conducting a baseline assessment of the current situation in the organization and understanding the internal factors that negatively affected the past changes and how these factors can affect the new change. Such assessment needs to be shared with change teams and employees to explain what was going on and what we have now in hand to use for the new change (Ron Carucci 2019).

To learn more about developing the strategy of your organization in times of change, sign up for The KPI Institute’s Certified Strategy and Business Planning Professional Live Online Course.

How To Succeed at Leading People Through Change


We consider leading change as part of leadership style and one of the ways of doing work. We propose that leading change consists of some aspects that need to be considered as a whole, not separately, to drive change towards success. Because change is currently a norm in any organization, sector, or region, it’s important to tackle it as a journey that creates internal and external value while catalyzing teamwork, morality, motivation, and employee empowerment to develop the needed assets and tools for change.

We found that leading change is an art that requires modeling efforts and directions to create a sound and integrated direction for everyone involved while ensuring that past patterns need to be considered as inputs into this model, resulting in efficient and effective change leadership towards the desired results. Furthermore, we show that uniting behind a purpose and progressing towards a clear vision are important to align the change teams and thus align the change among the different areas of the organization while ensuring continuous communication among all levels of the organization to explain the needed change, share successes, and exchange ideas and perceptions among employees and leaders.

Below is a series of articles I wrote about leading change, published in three installments:

To learn more about developing the strategy of your organization in times of change, sign up for The KPI Institute’s Certified Strategy and Business Planning Professional Live Online Course.

Marketing Online Courses Using the AIDA Model


According to HolonIQ, the online education market is expected to reach $74 billion by 2025. Meanwhile, Verified Market Research predicts that the global personal development market would reach $51.6 million by 2028. If you are interested in launching your own course, having a marketing model will help you structure and assess your tactics and those of your competitors so you may communicate them to your internal shareholders.

Think of marketing models as a tried and tested checklist. Maybe you are new to the field or have a lot of experience in a very specific domain. Aside from providing a comprehensive view of your goals, models are a great tool to get insights into the marketing strategy of your competitors and gather some best practices. One of the most used marketing models is the AIDA model.

The AIDA model

Developed in 1898 by Elias St. Elmo Lewis, the AIDA model sequences the customer’s journey of awareness, interest, desire, and eventually, action. Due to its nature, it is also called a “response hierarchy model”. This model envisages a world where consumers move through each stage before going to the next one as a classical marketing funnel.

Looking at what your competitors are doing at each stage of the AIDA model is a great way to get insights into your own marketing strategy. But see how this model can be applied to marketing an online course. The idea is that you have a very clear understanding of the market, on who exactly your consumer is, what are their needs and pain points, and what are your unique selling points. 

Here are some best practices in terms of marketing online courses using the AIDA model.

  • Capturing attention. Initially, the assumption is that the consumer is completely ignorant about you. To grab their attention, you would need a marketing outreach strategy. You need to define your brand awareness campaign. So, for an online course, what would that look like?

    To illustrate, The School of Life offers personal development courses for individuals under the following categories: self, love, work, and culture. As an outreach strategy, they have an amazing YouTube channel where they post once a week a video with content related to one of these categories. Their content is also built on what people are looking for such as howto articles and best practices lists, as well as searches like “find satisfying work” or “keep a relationship going”. Finally, they use effective content marketing to establish their leadership in the field and attract customers to their website.

  • Generating interest. At this stage, you want your customers to find out more about the benefits of your product or service. Say that they have already seen your content on a social media platform and they have reached your website. This is a good moment to capture that interest in a subscription list.

    As an example, The Gottman Institute offers the Marriage Minute newsletter for sending tools, articles, videos, exercises, and best practices for couples based on their ideology of a “research-based approach to relationships”. It also acts as a great tool for nurturing leads.

  • Instilling desire. During this stage, you want your customers “to want” your product or service. How to do that for an online course? The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy identifies six theories of desire which you choose to act on: action-based, pleasure-based, good-based, attention-based, learning-based, and holistic (functionalist and interpretationist).

    An example of this would be Mindvalley‘s offering of free Masterclasses that are available only for a limited amount of time. Here,  they share insights from their courses which, in turn, creates trust. The beauty of this resides in the fact that on the one hand, they nurture the leads with great content (attention-based), while on the other hand,  they create some sort of scarcity such as time-limited discount (action-based).

  • Triggering action. Finally, this is the stage wherein you aim to help consumers convert. This calls for an effective Call to Action (CTA), but how does that work for an online course? You should know exactly what your customer values, and at this point, use them to encourage them to engage with you.

    Esther Perel uses this line on her website for her online course as a CTA: “Start your intimacy journey today”. For couples, starting a course is problematic because it requires them to admit that there is a problem. So having a CTA focusing on “starting a journey” taps into fear and addresses it. Moreover, Esther Perel’s short bio also helps the CTA as it reinforces her personal brand to her customers who consider this of high value. Reinforcing her personal brand at this point is a great tactic to encourage action.

Criticism of the model

One of the strongest criticisms of the model is that it does not reflect the actual reality; consumers might not have a linear journey and their decisions are not always rational. Another major drawback of the AIDA model is the lack of focus on the retention and referrals stage. 

An alternative to AIDA is The Flying Wheel, a model developed by HubSpot which focuses its efforts on delighting the customer. Nevertheless, the model is a strong marketing framework that can help you guide your customers along their journey, structure your marketing efforts, and better understand your competitors.

The Roadmap To Designing Courses for Your Business


E-learning (recorded) or live online has become a trend, and with the pandemic crisis, the urge to have e-learning courses or live online in all fields has dramatically accelerated. Live online or prerecorded e-learning courses have become an effective means when doing learning courses. With new jobs coming up every day, there is a rise in the need to obtain new skills that the academy will not be able to develop and provide as the pace in the market continues to quicken. 

Moreover, live online or prerecorded courses make it possible for everyone to learn new skills, techniques, and tools from any country. Meanwhile, people get to learn new skills other than the ones intended by the course, such as communicating with other people from different cultures with varying perspectives and ideas. 

How to design an effective course

The important question to address here is how can we design an effective course whether it is a live or prerecorded one? Currently, this field has become very competitive, and various organizations in different industries are developing their own courses. The answer to this question starts by creating an effective diagnosis of the target market. 

Before instructional designers (ID) or content developers rush in by designing courses, they need first to have enough data explaining the current status of the market and the problems their courses will be solving. Companies need to differentiate themselves from competitors when they design similar courses. In other words, why should they choose your course rather than a competitor’s?

  1. Stage 1: Market Diagnosis

    The first stage of creating a library of e-learning courses is conducting market research; specifically, a gap analysis to have a better understanding of the gaps in the market and to update the profile of your customers. Moreover, companies should be updating their competitive analysis every now and then to be able to differentiate themselves. Feedback from previous training could be useful and help in designing the right questions for your market research. After gathering and analyzing data, companies will be able to spot the current needs of their target market.

  2. Stage 2: Preparation

    During this stage, the ID or content developers should brainstorm the different courses they need to develop. The brainstorming sessions could include different stakeholders across the organization as long as their input is relevant to the sessions. Then, prioritization according to the available resources is crucial at this stage. It goes without saying that the course design should be aligned with the overall business strategy; this is a vital criterion that should be considered during the brainstorming sessions.

  3. Stage 3: Implementation

    In the third stage, the ID or content developers start to develop the course chosen during the previous stage. The ID decides on the methodology for developing the course and its learning outcomes and objectives, such as Bloom’s taxonomy for the learning outcomes and ADDIE model for developing the main content of the course. The ID also gets to decide based on the nature of the course and the target market, the type of practical work (such as exercises, discussion questions, case studies, quizzes, exams, etc.) that will be included in the course, as well as the methodology of the questions used. Consequently, it is recommended to have a well-defined and detailed process for this, from the point the course is designed until it reaches the testing phase.

    Companies do not have to follow the same exact ID model that is commonly used by other companies such as the ADDIE model. However, they could develop their own model according to the course type they are designing, such as the model suggested in Figure 1 below from the study of Mustafa Saeed and his team (2019).

    Figure 1: Image Source: ResearchGate

    The model in Figure 1 incorporates a prototype model with the traditional ADDIE model to design e-learning courses for students. It suggests placing the prototype phase after the designing phase or as an extension. It also suggests applying the iterative flow through which one or more of the stages can be repeated during the development process.

    The main advantage of this model is that it incorporates the customers’ feedback within the design stage. Despite the fact that this model was developed for e-learning courses, the same concept could be used for prerecorded or live online courses.

    Finally, the implementation phase involves choosing the right tools and technologies for delivering the course (whether offline or live online). Needless to say, there are various factors that should be considered in choosing the appropriate tools and technologies (hardware and software). These can include the type of learning platform as well as the security and privacy measures taken to protect the course shared with the participants whether it is done through a pre-recording or live online.

  4. Stage 4: Prototype

    In this stage, the ID finalizes the course and is ready to test it. The ID starts this stage by transferring the course knowledge to the trainer, including all the practical work (exercises, case studies, etc.). The ID may include the feedback and the comments of the trainer before testing it. From there, the trainer could create some kind of simulation with a group of people to test the whole content of the course and gather feedback for improvements. This phase is vital because ID and developers will be able to tackle any problems with the content and the different technologies used.

  5. Stage 5: Launching

    This is when the course is launched in the market after deciding on the appropriate price of the course, as well as the time and place for conducting it. This stage also includes marketing the course(s) online through channels such as the company’s website and social media. It goes without saying that course competencies, learning objectives, and learning outcomes should be clear for the participants to help them decide whether the course is relevant to their field of expertise/interest or not.

  6. Stage 6: Evaluation

    Finally, the company evaluates the effectiveness of its course. This could be done by gathering feedback from the participants by the end of the course to assess the whole learning experience from the moment they sign up for the course until they receive their course certificates. This data will definitely help companies in improving their course and the whole learning experience.

In conclusion, there is no one way that would work for all. Companies get to design their own processes based on certain elements such as the nature of their course, target market, and industry trends. However, this article discusses the common building blocks that are essential for the successful design of a course. Finally, below are a few tips that could help in designing a course effectively:

  • Keep yourself up-to-date with the current industry and market trends.
  • Be aware of new tools and techniques for a better e-learning experience.
  • Decide on the competencies of each course before developing it to match your market needs.
  • Assess your current instructional model used to identify areas that require improvements or other steps that need to be added to the model.
  • Involve the input of the relevant stakeholders in the implementation and the prototype phases.
  • Involve the participants’ expectations within your course. Companies, for example, can allow for discussions with the participants to know more about the course before the pay. This will also allow companies to have more data about the common expectations among different participants for future improvements.

Leveraging Data for Improving Sales and Marketing by Understanding the Customers


Data-driven decision-making means to put actions based on real metrics and analytics derived from real-world data. In contrast to opinionated, anecdote-driven decision-making, data-driven decision-making is superior since it is based on facts rather than opinions. Numbers and facts represent reality, whereas opinion is highly subjective and susceptible to bias. 

Furthermore, with the advent of the internet and technology, we are now bombarded with an abundance of data that is accessible from anywhere. This abundance of data can be an advantage for your organization, but it can also be a threat if you are unable to use it and your competitors are better at it. This article highlights the Sales and Marketing (S&M); area since profitability is the objective of all companies, the main force that drives it is in S&M. 

Before going into a data-driven approach, the essential concept of the S&M strategy needs to be discussed. Understanding this concept is important to know what the objective is and ultimately influence the process in a good way. The following are two main components of S&M strategy:

  1. Customer Experience

    The customer experience is what your customers want. It is about speed, convenience, consistency, and friendliness. Understanding the consumer extends beyond customer profiling. Because each product or service offered by a business has a unique target demographic, companies must approach the customer experience for each. A company will be able to organize its involvement with the consumer or potential customer if it has a thorough understanding of the buying cycle: pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase. The effort to engage customers nowadays relies heavily on technology and data analytics.

  2. Customer-centric Business

    A customer-centric company is a method of conducting business with your customers that provides a positive customer experience – both before and after the sale – to drive repeat orders and customer loyalty. Being customer-centric goes beyond just providing a good service. For that purpose, companies should utilize technologies that can help companies to be more attentive to the customers.

The two components explained above have similarities. They both require an understanding of the customer: the “who”, “what”, “when”, “why”, and “where”. Years ago, companies relied on surveys to obtain information about customers. But now, a myriad of ways to learn about your customers are available. 

Start by collecting customers’ feedback. Not only directly (i.e., emails, phone calls) but also indirectly through statistics and analytics. For example, by using web analytics, you can gather information such as customers’ demographics, where they are from, what is their favorite part of the website, what they do before buying your product, and so on. It is only an example of how a data-driven approach can be used to improve customer experience.

Keep in mind that technologies such as data analytics are only enablers, not problem solvers. Its design and implementation must be aligned for both S&M. Marketing should provide Sales with metrics that delve deep into customer data. If the data is of poor quality, the Salesperson cannot convert prospects into buyers effectively. This is where the data-driven approach comes into play. When the S&M processes are in sync, data and analytics perform best. To learn more about data visualization and how it can be utilized to serve your processes better, join The KPI Institute’s Certified Data Visualization Professional Certification.


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