Ahh, now comes the fun part—it’s time to figure out what you want to do with what you know about the organization.
You wouldn’t have stopped to do a deep dive on what’s going on in the organization if you didn’t realize something was getting in the way of progress. And of course, the show must go on—the world isn’t going to stop and wait for you to fix something. As the old saying goes, you’ll have to change the tires while you’re driving the bus.
Here are three things to consider as you figure out where you’re going with your change process.
1. Get clear about your purpose and your future
Figuring out where you’re going starts by back tracking into a starting place. History plays a role. Start by looking back and looking inward. We’re not suggesting navel gazing, but we are suggesting that you get situated in the background, context and raison d’etre of your business.
This is the time to get clear on the purpose of your work. We’re steering away from those debt-laden words vision and mission for now. We don’t want to get tripped up.
Look again, more deeply.
Why are you doing what you’re doing—
your core service or product?
How do you want to be in the world?
What impact do you want to have?
That provides a guiding light on figuring out where you’re going. Often, change that sticks, starts at the root of a challenge. It’s one reason silo busting has become popular in starting change initiatives. Silo busting helps people get connected to the roots, the purpose of the company.
Companies grow, and like trees they form new branches. But unlike trees, they don’t always stay connected through the trunk and the roots—people can get disconnected from the initial intention of the company. As they disconnect—forming siloes—different purposes emerge, and therefore different drivers of behavior. And then we wake up one day to realize that one division doesn’t work anything like the next.
Step one is to look backward and get clarity on your foundation. This helps you figure out if you have some repair work to get back to your roots, which helps you build a stronger future. And if root repair is needed, then you know where you’re starting. And if not, then you know to look elsewhere, and have ruled something out.
2. Get a fix on what you think is holding you back
Have you ever tried to pull one strand from a bowl of cold spaghetti? Hah!
That’s right, it all sticks together in a big ball. One strand is stuck to the next,
entwined with two others, and on it goes. That is your organization—a bunch of strands—issues, opportunities, challenges, people, market forces, habits.
No matter which strand you pick up, it will stick to other things in the organization. We often look at the big, sticky ball of issues, get overwhelmed, and either try to do too much, try to make it too perfect, or get stumped and give up.
Abandon the idea of doing a perfect job. This is a human endeavor. As you decide to pick up a strand, think about tacking yourself to it and sticking to it. The first strand is something like getting into the right zip code. You will need to get more precise to get the message delivered, but in our world, perfection is progress. .
3. Figure out one place to start
You’re going to pull one strand. Once you know where you are now and you have a general sense of which strand to pick up, go ahead and pick one up. Stick to the one sticky strand, notice what’s coming along for the ride, yet keep your focus. We’ll talk about those other sticky strands in the next post when we discuss challenges
No guarantees. It’s a little scary. You’re working with the organization in the spirit of starting something new, learning together. That spirit and that focus will serve you well.
What’s important is making a decision, picking a focus
and sticking to it. We are helping a group of people change a habit together. That is asking a lot. So, let’s keep it
narrow and go for small wins.
As people get used to this, they start noticing more around them. Frederic Laloux, author of Reinventing Organizations, talks about this as the ability to sense and respond.
If we can let go, just for a moment, of our need to predict and control, we can be more awake to sensing what is going on around us. This attitude of sensing and responding also keeps us aware of our habits, which makes us notice more. This, in turn, helps us to choose behaviors that are more desirable for both achieving what we want to make happen and what the organization needs to make happen.
Pull the strand, listen to what the response is, and adjust as you learn. The organization will tell you what it needs next, but the skill of paying attention becomes essential here.
But what about driving to reach goal, to meet the plan? Our left brains—our rational side—gets a little itchy here. It sounds so nice to sense and respond, but what about those deadlines? What about making the goals our bosses set for us?
We say—work the middle ground, whenever you can. It’s important to set goals and work towards them. But it’s equally important to apply good instincts when goals lose their meaning. We need this ability to sense and respond—it keeps us from blindly following breadcrumbs to goals that don’t help us achieve our purpose.
Conclusion: Where is your change process going?
We hope it’s taking you to the crossroads of purpose, future and finding the keys for the right vehicle. Keep in mind that our job here is to focus on where your change process is going, not provide strategic planning for the whole organization.
Of course, these pieces interact—so let’s get a sense of the whole elephant and
then decide to work on a part. We want to avoid thinking that the one part we got hold of is the whole thing! This is where that middle ground plays a role—goals and outcomes, yes. Common sense, focus on purpose and speaking up for where your instincts are telling you to go—yes, too.
Next time, in Part 3, we will look at some of the challenges we’ll face along the way—from keeping our attention turned on, to creating a concrete image of what else is possible.
Four Questions Your Change Plan Must Answer:
Part 3: What are your challenges?
To read Part 1: Where Are You Now? Click Here