Martin Luther King on Change

In the current edition of the Wharton Leadership Digest, Dave Holloman, change management practice leader for IBM Business Consulting Services considers the change management lessons offered by Martin Luther King’s campaign in Birmingham.

The article touches on the following concepts:

  • Conflict Can Be Constructive
  • Public and Personal Sacrifice Has Limits
  • Dramatizing the Reality to Vision Gap is Vital
  • Execution to Plan Supersedes Stakeholder Concerns and Desires

Perhaps the most interesting idea is the gap between vision and reality — and how dramatizing those differences can help motivate the people you work with. Some business thinkers have cast this as a performance gap and suggest that you measure it based on your vision or reality. One educational leader warns against lowering your goals based on such gaps. And still another change agent proposes that reality needs to be more clearly defined before any gaps can be identified.

How have you dramatized the gap between your work’s reality — and your vision? What do you do to close that gap and move toward what Sparks describes as advancing structures rather than oscillating structures (in which no real progress is made)?