Creating a Strong Change Coalition

Discussing the Importance of Assembling a Diverse and Influential Group of Change Agents to Drive Successful Transformation Efforts

Creating a Strong Change Coalition

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

Change is an inevitable part of any organization’s growth and evolution. However, ensuring the success of transformation efforts requires more than just a well-crafted strategy. It demands the creation of a strong change coalition – a diverse and influential group of change agents who can effectively champion and drive the change process. In this article, we will explore the significance of assembling such a coalition by reviewing two compelling case studies.

Case Study 1: IBM’s Transformation

IBM, a technology giant, faced a critical need to transform its business model to adapt to the rapidly changing technology landscape. To accomplish this, IBM embarked on a strategic transformation effort in 2012, which involved a significant shift towards cloud computing and cognitive computing solutions, such as their AI platform Watson.

One crucial aspect of IBM’s successful transformation was their ability to assemble a strong change coalition. The coalition consisted of top executives, mid-level managers, and frontline employees who possessed deep domain expertise, diverse perspectives, and influential positions within the organization. This diverse group of change agents worked collectively to overcome resistance, align stakeholders, and drive the necessary changes across the organization.

By assembling a strong coalition, IBM harnessed the power of its employees’ collective intelligence and created buy-in at every level. The influential members of the coalition facilitated communication, generated enthusiasm, and ensured the implementation of the transformation efforts. They also provided feedback and ensured that the change journey remained aligned with the company’s overarching vision. As a result, IBM successfully achieved its transformation goals, solidifying its position as a leading player in the technology industry.

Case Study 2: The British Airways Turnaround

In the late 1980s, British Airways (BA) faced serious challenges, including high operating costs, a demoralized workforce, and intense competition. To address these issues, BA relied on a strong change coalition to drive a successful turnaround. Led by CEO Colin Marshall, the change coalition included senior management, union leaders, and key stakeholders from various departments within the organization.

The diversity and influence of the coalition members played a crucial role in the transformation’s success. Marshall understood the importance of gaining commitment from unions, which historically opposed major changes. By actively involving union leaders in the change process, Marshall built trust, fostered collaboration, and ensured employee support for the necessary cost-cutting measures and improvements in customer service.

The change coalition at BA also focused on communication and transparency, ensuring that all employees were informed and engaged in the transformation efforts. Marshall, along with other influential members, actively listened to employees’ concerns, addressed them promptly, and recognized their contributions to the turnaround. This created a sense of ownership and commitment among the workforce, leading to significant improvements in both financial performance and customer satisfaction.


These case studies demonstrate that assembling a diverse and influential change coalition significantly contributes to the success of transformation efforts. Such coalitions not only provide the necessary expertise and perspectives to navigate through complex changes but also foster buy-in, build trust, and ensure continuous alignment with the organization’s vision.

When implementing your next strategic transformation endeavor, remember the importance of creating a strong change coalition. Identify influential individuals from various levels and functional areas within your organization, and empower them to champion the change process. By investing in a diverse and influential coalition, you lay the foundation for a successful transformation that can propel your organization towards greater success and sustainability.

SPECIAL BONUS: Braden Kelley’s Problem Finding Canvas can be a super useful starting point for doing design thinking or human-centered design.

“The Problem Finding Canvas should help you investigate a handful of areas to explore, choose the one most important to you, extract all of the potential challenges and opportunities and choose one to prioritize.”

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