On 29 October 2021, Kilo Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, located at Parris Island, South Carolina, graduated 516 of our nation’s newest Marines.
Twelve weeks earlier, these 516 recruits met each other and their company staff for the first time as they stepped off the buses that brought them and onto the storied yellow footprints of Parris Island. As you may imagine, the Marine Corps has developed an effective process over the past 246 years to transform young civilians into Marines. Essentially, it is nothing more than a change initiative.
However impressive the transformation from uncertain civilian to that of a well-disciplined, fire-breathing Marine, it is like the change process used by countless organizations around the globe.
So how is the Marine Corps able to successfully complete this change initiative more than 80 times a year, transforming more than 40,000 civilians into Marines at the Recruit Depot’s at Parris Island, SC and San Diego, CA and the Officer Candidate School at Quantico, VA, while corporate organizations fail a similar process 70% of the time? The answer is that the Marine Corps is committed to the process. Leaders are bought in at all levels and they see the need for and benefits of a rigorous and defined change process. They also recognize that failure is not an option.
Many scholars have studied the process of change, and most have come to similar conclusions. John Kotter (2012) boiled it down to an eight-step process that starts with a sense of urgency and ends with a continuing effort to anchor the change in the organization’s culture. For the Marine Corps, Drill Instructors are skilled at providing their young recruits with a sense of urgency. The process of anchoring the change in the Marine Corps’ culture is an ongoing effort at all levels of leadership.
The process starts with a sense of urgency but includes the following to ensure execution:
- Guiding Coalition
- Vision and Strategy
- Effective Communication
- Short-term Wins
- Consolidated Gains
- Anchored in Culture
What is the real difference between the Marine Corps and your organization when it comes to transformation and change management? We do not suggest that a boot camp-like experience is what is missing with your team, but it does suggest that a strong commitment to a rigorous and proven change process is the key. Whether it takes 12 weeks to make a Marine or three years to solidify a change initiative is irrelevant, what matters is the commitment at all levels within an organization to steward the change process to completion through an unyielding will to win. Vetergy can step in and assist with your organization’s change process. Click here to learn more.
Business needs, technology, and best practices continue to evolve bringing with them a continuing need for change. As leaders, we must ensure that our organizations have the resilience to embrace the uncertainty of change in today’s highly competitive business environment. Vetergy is here to support your team in developing the resilience they need to thrive in this uncertainty. Whether you have the need for leadership development, a better understanding of human factors, improved organizational culture, or the successful implementation of a change initiative, Vetergy can provide support that is specific to your needs.