Mastering Organizational Change - 50 Common Sense Tips - Part 10

Pig-Singing_mepsAnd here it is…  the tenth and final post in the series on 50 Common Sense Tips for Mastering Organization Change! These tips apply whether you’re implementing a new process, a software rollout, or a transitional culture change.

Points 46-50 below finish up the Engaging phase in the three-step process I refer to as Planning, Selling, and Engaging.

46. Ride Downhill – Change is hard enough without making it more difficult by trying to fight nature. Make sure the people on your implementation team are working in their area of natural strengths. Some people are better at analyzing, some are better at leading, and some are better at communicating. Help them leverage and build upon the skills they’re already good at. And be sure those impacted by your change won’t have to do something they’re not fit for either, as a result of the change. As Robert Heinlein said, “Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.”

47. Build a Wall – No, not a Mexican wall. Build a wall of success. Have a public forum, either online or on a physical wall, to recognize and appreciate any and all successes, no matter how small. Use it to generate excitement and to acknowledge people’s efforts. It can also serve to inspire others to follow suit. When Napoleon established the Legion of Honor medal in France, he said “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.” And he was right.

48. Tear Down a Wall – There are other types of walls in organizations that aren’t so inspiring. These metaphoric walls are the barriers that prevent people from collaborating effectively and getting their work done. Find out what they are, whether it’s inadequate collaboration tools, ineffective organizational structure, a poor working space, or policies that serve to disrupt progress. Make it a point to find out the barriers people face as they try to carry out your change. Then remove said barriers.

49. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Course – Sometimes, a plan needs to be altered or even reversed in order to adapt to learnings as they emerge. The most innovative companies know this instinctively and experiment with different techniques for recognizing and adapting to change. They’re not afraid to adjust course if needed. Of course, to minimize excessive change, it’s a good idea to test any new change on a small scale if appropriate. But even after change has been implemented broadly, if the results aren’t what you expected, then don’t hesitate to “adjust the sails.” Don’t be like the proverbial ship’s captain who’s veering off course but is expecting the lighthouse to move.

50. Don’t Stop Now – Speaking of change, let’s not forget what the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said: “The only constant is change.” Once your change is implemented, don’t stop there. Assess how it’s working and then chart the next course. Make it bold or make it small, but do something. Life doesn’t stand still. Technology doesn’t stand still. And your competition doesn’t stand still. Good organizations adapt to change. Great organizations create change. Constantly.

Sealing the Deal

Having set the stage with sound strategies and effective communication, you’ve hopefully used some of the 50 tools we’ve covered to do a number of things, including:

  • ? Standardizing selectively, with people’s involvement
  • ? Influencing the influencers, individually where appropriate
  • ? Assembling small teams for more active engagement
  • ? Getting middle management on board
  • ? Using the data to make decisions, even if it’s not perfect
  • ? Avoiding process redundancies by doing a process walk-through
  • ? Employing checklists to minimize errors and reduce approval steps
  • ? Branding your initiative and giving everyone a way to identify with it
  • ? Publically recognizing accomplishments and efforts; and
  • ? Assuring people have adequate training, support, & tools

George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” By taking a structured approach to planning for success, selling the message, and engaging the people, you can avoid this all-too-common problem.

Remember, not all of the tips and tools in this series will apply to everyone or every situation. See what works in your organization and assemble your model accordingly.


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