Why our transformational change effort may fail (2)
Continued from last Thursday (23-4-2015)
AT number five, Kotter identifies “allowing obstacles to block the vision” as another reason why Jonathan’s agenda may have failed.
When people in a government or the advisory team seem to be resisting the change or where pockets of resistance exist, the role as a leader is to engage such people and where such engagement fails, the leader must be decisive in removing such obstacles. We just did not see enough “heads” rolling during the last government.
While the Obasanjo government was condemned for allegedly using EFCC to score political battles, EFCC’s role in this out-going administration was focused more on corporate frauds (useful, but not enough, considering the purported enrichment of public servants – a la Pension Scam, missing oil revenue and Subsidy Scam).
Rather than come down hard on corruption, we had a few pardons of people convicted for corruption under the previous government or plea bargains made with bank CEOs who had ruined our economy. My prayer has always been that if I got a chance to lead Nigeria, I would look for obstacles from around my family and friends to remove as a good example of my commitment to driving an anti-corruption change.
Failure to create short-term wins is reason number six. The short-term wins that the out-going administration had were founded on a wrong notion of prosperity.
When the wealth of our nation was being measured by the number of shopping malls, private jets and rebased GDP figures rather than the quality of life of the poor and the access to opportunities and justice by the down-trodden, there is no way that Nigerians could see any short-term wins in the out-going administration.
Again, the recent uptick against the insurgents is a good example of the power of short-term wins.
As reports of small victories in reclaiming Nigerian villages from the insurgents trickled in, Nigerians became more confident and assured of victory. Failing to create short-term wins makes the people weary. President-elect must be mindful of not just creating short-term wins, but creating them in areas that the average Nigerian really cares about.
According to Kotter, the seventh reason why transformational change efforts may fail is when we declare victory too soon. In our recent experience, this is closely related to complacency and also to setting the wrong parameters in the first place.
For example, the way politicians celebrated the rebasing of the GDP or how we laud our governors for building roads is absolutely amazing! My eight-year-old daughter if given a chance to be a governor will not find it hard to build roads – before nko? Nigerians are way too sophisticated for the shenanigans associated with tape-cutting ceremonies.
In the past such victories would be celebrated and you would hear people saying –“the governor has tried o” my question – how has using taxpayers money to build roads amount to trying? Once our leaders perform some basic tricks like this, our people and their sycophants lose sight of the bigger prize and Nigeria is worse off for it.
Finally, Kotter says that failing to anchor the change in our culture leads to the failure of transformational change efforts.
In our case, and rather unfortunately, the very concept of a national culture was destroyed in the last few years especially as ethnic and religious tensions were fuelled by political miscreants.
Rather than create a culture of strong national values we descended deeper into primordial sentiments. Our leaders have led us down the path to the wrong culture, and it is a reversal of this culture that must be paramount on the change agenda of Buhari.
While I have laid blame on our political leaders, other leaders in the religious, traditional, social and business arena cannot be spared blame for the pervasive rot that we are in.
In fact, all of us Nigerians are culpable by not being the change that we want to see.
My prayer is that our new leaders can borrow a leaf from this well-established theory of transformational change to chart a new course for Nigeria.
In the early 2000s, Okonjo-Iweala, El-Rufai, Soludo, Mansur Mukhtar and others used carefully crafted World Bank scripts to manage our debt crises and privatise our state-owned enterprises. I encourage the technocrats around the new President to use these time-tested principles of transformational change among others to create the much-need cultural change for a new Nigeria.
• Barro is a Chartered Accountant and leadership trainer. He wrote from Abuja.