Free Tools Our Process CONTACT US Login

How do you assess your organization’s change readiness?

How do you assess your organization’s change readiness?

One of my favorite books is “The First 90 Days” by Michael Watkins. Though it is positioned as the “onboarding bible” for executive leaders, the book also includes excellent insight into strategy formulation and implementation more broadly.

One of the frameworks Watkins puts forth is his STARS Model. In effect, the model allows you to get clear on the “lay of the land.” This clarity is essential because if you jump into proposing significant changes before doing this foundational analysis, you will likely encounter resistance from the individuals you are expecting to implement these changes.

Whether you have led your team for a while, were recently promoted or transferred internally, or are stepping into a new organization, STARS allows you to answer two key questions: 

  1. What change am I being called upon to lead?
  2. What type of leader must I be to lead this change?

STARS is an acronym for five different types of status of an organization, division, or even project:



Accelerated Growth


Sustaining Success

Start-up is defined by pulling together the capabilities (talent, money, tech, and other assets) to get a new venture or project up and going. One of the significant challenges here is building strategy, structures, and systems from scratch without any pre-existing guidelines or frameworks.

Turnaround is defined by your attempt to save an initiative or organization that is clearly in significant distress. What can be especially difficult as a leader in this situation is motivating and engaging stakeholders and staff demoralized by the present state.

Accelerated growth is defined as a rapidly expanding organization or initiative. To succeed in this context, you will need to create or revise systems and structures that allow sustainable and scalable growth.

Realignment is defined by reenergizing a previously successful organization or initiative that is now facing challenges. Accordingly, a first step if you want to motivate change in your team is to ensure that they recognize that the organization or initiative is in trouble.

Sustaining success is defined by preserving an organization's or initiative's health while simultaneously exploring opportunities to "level up." Here you will likely find yourself fighting against the mentality of "if it ain't broke" as you attempt to identify ways to create further growth.

The strategic responses you develop will vary significantly based on which state you identify as applying to your particular situation.

It is also unlikely you will encounter a situation that perfectly aligns with the above, as often different parts of an organization will be in different states. 

However, by first getting clear on your status, you are more likely to create and communicate a change process that will ultimately be successful.

Our team developed a free rapid assessment that will help you to determine where your organization or initiative lives within Watkins’ STARS model and how to lead others accordingly.

Take the rapid assessment: Matching Strategy to Present State.

For an excellent breakdown of what it takes to bring about an organization's strategic realignment, listen to Scott Skinner, CEO of Clean Foundation, on Toughest Call. In his 30-minute podcast episode, he talks about how he and his team strategically repositioned their organization to heighten its impact. 

Stay connected and get a FREE copy of our book!

We don't email often.

When we do, we contribute value.

If you don't see the value, we make it easy to unsubscribe.


50% Complete

Sign Up for our newsletter and get immediate access to our FREE book