Most organizations, if they have lived long enough, have struggled with problems implementing change. Much depends on the culture of the organization. Is your organization having problems implementing change?
Consensus makes change easier to implement, but slower to organize.
Some organizations have a consensus culture which means that change doesn’t start with an order from the top. It happens when everyone in the organization believes it should happen. Change doesn’t happen quickly in these organizations. And while it’s easy to think that consensus is good, it slows progress considerably and smart people may just get tired and leave.
Command and control organizations begin change much more quickly but implementing the changes can be tough.
The opposite of a consensus culture could be called a command and control culture, where change does start with an order from the top. Change can happen much more quickly there, but many people don’t enjoy working in command and control cultures.
Nestled somewhere between these extremes is a collaborative culture, where folks work in teams, supporting each other, each playing to his or her strengths. At their best, these organizations often feel like fun and comfortable places to work.
Here are five suggestions that will help any organization that is having problems implementing change:
- Involve your brightest and best in the decision-making process. If you are working on a major initiative that will impact the entire organization, consider pulling in your sharpest folks to brainstorm the decision, even if the decision has been made. You may learn something valuable.
- Never have a meeting to introduce change to decision-makers until you know they are committed. Yes, it takes time to individually meet with stakeholders and explain the background on a proposed change, and get buy-in, but a vocal dissenter can quickly silence your supporters and stop you in your tracks.
- Ensure that all stakeholders know why the change is necessary. Explain the increase in business value, or improvements to efficiency that will result. Unless stakeholders believe that the change is essential you are fighting an uphill battle.
- Ask yourself how the proposed change is consistent with your mission and strategic plan. If you try to introduce a change that is inconsistent with your strategic plan, your mission, or your value-system, your team will see this quickly. You will lose credibility. Always tie your projects to your organization’s objectives.
- Consider how your rewards system may sabotage your changes. For example, if you appoint a salesperson to be the project manager on a new project, don’t be surprised if your project looks like nothing is happening. Why would a salesperson, who is presumably compensated for generating revenues, spend hours keying project data?
Change is a given in the business world. It is essential to select the right changes, those that align with your business strategy. Implementing those changes as cost effectively as possible means that your organization can move on and reap the benefits of the change.
Some argue for incremental change because this can be easier on the folks who are implementing the change and can yield some incremental and immediate gratification. However, when major strategic changes can be achieved more quickly, it may improve the bottom line faster.
What have you done to reduce your problems implementing change? Join the conversation and comment below. Sign up for our newsletter to learn more.