Facilitating Organizational Change: Planning
In the last post, I spoke about the need to objectively assess both where you are currently and where you want to be in the future. I want to emphasize once more, the importance of being as objective as possible when making your assessment. Don’t allow past experiences or biases to influence your assessment; rather, let the information stand on its own.
The third stage of the change process is planning. Here, you begin to interpret your assessment and wrap context around it. What impact will this have on the organization? How long will it take to reach your goals? What will you need to get there?
Using our roadmap analogy again, if the goal is travel from Kansas City to Chicago, and your assessment finds you in Joliet, well, things are looking mighty nice. However, if you find you’re only in St. Louis, you’ve still got a long road ahead of you. The point being: without the assessment, you won’t know what needs to fit into the plan, and without the plan, the assessment is pointless.
Your plan of action must take into account both the current state of the organization (where you are) as well as the future state of the organization (where you want to be). Additionally, a sense of urgency must be conveyed.
Urgency is a nod to the first step of the process, during which the necessity for change is acknowledged. Without a sense of urgency, the corporate economic value of the need for change plunges significantly. The caveat is to convey a sense of urgency, not haste.
Haste makes waste is an axiom. As I mentioned previously, you will discover trouble spots that almost beg for your immediate attention. Exercising patience and restraint, rather than reactionary bravado, will prove more beneficial in the long run and will save both time and resources.
The planning stage has two goals: Collaboration and Solutions.
It is almost a universal fact that organizations cannot be coerced into change. A common change strategy in organizations today is that of buy-in. Yet, the concept of buy-in may be too dictatorial. What we need is collaboration.
Collaboration draws all of the stakeholders together and by definition necessitates group input and effort. Buy-in implies that the plans and strategies are not inherent; that they are external and must be adopted. Collaboration promises origination.
Collaboration asserts that the ideas for change already exist within the stakeholders and are waiting to be expressed. Where collaboration thrives, not only will that organization embrace change, it will create its own opportunities for making change a reality.
Finally, the plan of action must acknowledge the difference between people solutions and systems solutions. Failing to recognize this difference, or worse, recognizing it, but failing to handle them accordingly, is one of the major reasons organizations are unable to sustain their efforts to affect change.
People and systems must be treated differently. This is a truth that cannot be ignored. Additionally, people and systems can never be used interchangeably to solve challenges.
The primary lesson here is realizing that people solutions are not more important than systems solutions; however, they must precede any and all systems solutions.
As President Eisenhower alluded to in the above quote, flexibility is an absolute. When planning your route from Point A to Point B, you must be prepared for potholes, detours, traffic jams, and the occasional multi-car pile-up. Those challenges are never an indication that you chose the wrong route; rather, they are opportunities to demonstrate just how badly you want to reach your destination!