There is a roadmap to navigating a change initiative. That's the good news. The bad news is that using the roadmap is difficult because it forces us to work against our instincts.
Our instincts tell us to we should get all the right people in the room, present our biggest challenges, and then—like magic—solve those challenges. That sort of binary thinking is usually just the thing that drives us to the point of frustration. We must first temper our expectations.
Our goal is not to have it all figured out but to establish enough positive momentum that we create energy around the process. From there, it’s a matter of staying connected, staying engaged with those involved so that people are able to see the progress they are making. The road map below focuses on a hybrid approach of taking responsibility for those things you need to own, getting participation from a broad yet targeted set of stakeholders and finally, getting help where you need it.
In the second of the talks I'll be hosting at NBOA, I'll be leading a workshop on brainstorming and mapping organizational processes, so I'll refrain from delivering the bulk of my talk here, but I'd like you to think about these three concepts before we meet in Chicago.
- What does it mean to identify the best people across your organization to help with your change initiatives? We've already covered the importance of the cross-functional team, a team that brings breadth of experience in operations, and is invested in the change they're tasked with addressing. But what are the individual skills and personalities that lead to being positive contributors, team members interested in moving the organization forward and solving significant problems?
- How do you frame the broad vision for your team? How do you ensure that your top performers have a clear understanding of what the institution's best possible future could hold, if they are successful? Careful visioning can uncover not just the best possible outcomes, but is the single best exercise for uncovering the silent risks.
- How do you know when you're finished? By simply asking that question of your team, you'll incite a healthy conflict, and likely uncover new constraints on your time. By coming to agreement on a target start and end date for your change initiative, you're defining a boundary of accountability, making it real for the folks who need to own the work to come.
If you missed our podcast summary of the talks I'll be hosting at NBOA this year, I invite you to click play below, and join us with your comments. I look forward to meeting more of you in Chicago!