How do you get started with a change initiative? Here’s how one of my clients, Susan, recently approached a change in her organization.
Susan was the CEO of a national organization, a successful and well-known nonprofit. Revenue was rising, teams were expanding in size, and program reach was increasing. However, this success brought some challenges with it.
You might think of them as “growing pains.” And they were painful! The growing pains included…
- Competition for getting the additional resources;
- Jockeying among teams for the CEO’s attention;
- A growing list of priorities to be tackled;
- Slow decision-making;
- Staff waiting for approval from their managers to act;
- And the struggle to refresh internal systems to keep up with the growth in staff and budget.
Susan was under pressure to improve the situation. But she was aware of the risks of acting too quickly. She knew of too many change initiatives that had failed. They were imposed from the top. They lacked buy-in from the people most affected by the changes. They had unrealistic goals and unworkable plans.
Susan did not want to fall into this trap. She saw the importance of preparing the ground for the coming changes. Working with us, Susan began with PREPARING the organization for the changes needed to improve conditions..
With our support, Susan and her executive team focused on three important early initiatives to prepare the organization for the changes to come:
Map: Building a shared understanding of the current situation, developing goals for an improved future, and identifying options for change:
- We collected information about the organization’s changing environment. This created a vivid picture of the pain and discomfort being experienced across the organization.
- By mapping the challenges and opportunities, it became easier to see which ideas might be better at bringing lasting relief.
- We explored the pros and cons of the feasible options, probing for any unintended consequences.
Mobilize: Identifying and engaging key stakeholders, building support for the need for change, and fostering buy-in:
- Staff from across the organization had opportunities to share their experience and to identify their interests.
- We were able to identify areas of support for the needed changes, and we became aware of potential sources of resistance.
- We secured support from key individuals and groups who could facilitate acceptance of the changes.
Move: Developing a plan for the planned changes, securing resources and communicating what is coming to stakeholders:
- With key people validating the need for change, they could explore the available options for addressing the pain points.
- Once the plan was developed, human and financial resources were allocated to the change process.
- Susan and her executive team directed their efforts to communicating with their staff about what was being planned to address the growing pains.
By using these three moves, Susan effectively prepared people in her organization on the need for change. They understood that the pain points needed to be addressed – and that care and thought had gone into selecting the changes needed to improve the situation.
Until next time,
Practical Tips To Prepare For Change
- Create a Context Map to better understand what is contributing to the current situation.
- Develop a Stakeholder Assessment for insights into potential sources of support and resistance.
- Prepare a plan for the change process, but don’t make it too detailed.
- Invest time and effort in communicating about the change.
Other real-life examples:
This approach to preparing for change is similar to what I have done for other clients:
- Program Officers in a philanthropic foundation were interested in launching a multi-year peer group program for senior leaders from grantees organizations.
- A senior leader in a global pharmaceutical company wanted to improve collaboration among teams spread across multiple time zones.
- A leader in a financial services firm wanted to find the best ways to advance a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) change initiative.
- The CEO of a new education consulting group wanted to establish an engaged Board of Directors that would bring strategic guidance to the start-up.
If you’d like help preparing your team for change, please drop me a line and we’ll set up a meeting to see how Randel Consulting Associates can help.