This is the second in series of ten posts on 50 common sense tips on mastering organizational change.
Starting with point 6, this batch is part of the Planning phase in a three-step process I refer to as Planning, Selling, and Engaging.
6. Be an Anthropologist – If you are about to implement a new process or software application, why not observe the people who will be using the new method and see how they operate in the current environment? See firsthand what they’re dealing with, and get a better sense of how they’d operate with the new method. The Japanese have been doing this for years with great success (e.g. Toyota’s Genchi Genbutsu approach, which means “go and see you yourself,” or Honda’s Sangen Shugi, which means “three actuals,” referring to the actual place, situation, and data). Don’t forget making a point to understand the needs and norms of other geographic regions and cultures as well.
7. Broaden your View – No system or process operates in a vacuum. Take the time to widen your lens, looking at all the variables that influence success or create barriers. Assess the impacts on individuals, departments, and the overall organization. Make tradeoffs if needed. Likewise, examine how all the related operational components support your desired culture or method, including processes, services, technology, policies, and so on.
8. Be an Explorer – Be a connoisseur of the possible. Don’t just look for “pain points,” look for opportunities. Often, technology brings opportunities that people never would have thought to state as a need. Henry Ford said, “If I asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” It’s good to assess what a customer wants, and even better to assess what they need. But don’t overlook what’s possible, even beyond their wants and needs, especially if it can create a better way of doing something. This can also serve to generate excitement about your initiative, if done for pragmatic purposes.
9. Be a Community Builder – A long-standing axiom across many religions and secular communities is belonging, believing, behaving. The key point is that belonging must come first. Then it becomes easier to work on shared beliefs and drive expected behaviors. The three are connected, and any one area will suffer without strength in the other two areas.
Bonus tip! Many business organizations are now forming “Communities of Practice” or CoPs—a term coined by cognitive scientists Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger, though the concept is ages old. A CoP is a group of committed practitioners with a shared passion for a topic or skill who learn collectively how to do it better as they interact regularly. Many organizations create multiple communities around different topics. It’s an excellent way to get people actively engaged, increase ideas, and advance good practices.
10. Scout for Landmines – Change is rarely neutral. Problems will inevitably occur. Just like a military leader scouts for landmines or enemy troops, anticipate resistance and develop strategies to address it in advance. Develop a stakeholder roadmap to give a sense of where the resistance lies. Look at both the impact to each group and the influence they carry to develop a strategy for each segment. Focus first on understanding the needs of the high impact, high influence stakeholders. These stakeholder areas may warrant a face-to-face campaign or even one-on-one sessions. For certain high-influence individuals, you may need to assess their specific needs, concerns, and requirements as well.
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