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5 Questions and 3 Bonuses for Organizational Transformation


About 30% of efforts to change/transform organizations stick. That means that 70% of these change efforts fail. What leads some to success, but far too many to fall short?

Instead of planning the next Strategic Planning Retreat when your organization needs to change the way it's operating, we recommend looking beyond this "default response" and considering our "5 Questions for Change".

5 reflective questions to help you think about change that can stick:

1. Clear Vision?

What is your organization's vision for what it wants to create in the world? This isn't what you "do": it's about what you want to "be". It's about #what your organization is set up to #fix #change #repair #heal #increase #eliminate #support #promote, etc.

2. Does form follow function?

In other words, are your structures (departments) designed to support maximum efficiency to the accomplishment of your goals and vision? Are your staff, departments, policies, programs, strategies, and resources organized in a way that is going to help you achieve that vision?

3. Doing or Trying?

Are you moving towards accomplishing your goals, or are you just "trying hard"? This question is about learning and measurement. Friedman, in his book “Trying Hard Isn’t Good Enough”, provides a good primer on Results Based Accountability and performance measures. At every layer and level of your organization, how is the progress toward the achievement of your goals being measured and evaluated? How is the data being captured? How are learnings and innovations captured and re-integrated throughout the entire organization?

4. What is the "State of your People"?

Are your staff connected to the vision of the organization? Are they trained, supported, and coached to be the most effective in their contribution to the organization's goal? Are your people generally happy? Do your people see themselves as key to the organization? Are people/teams generally competitive or collaborative? To borrow from "Good to Great", how do you ensure the "right people" are in the "right seat"? In other words, how do you ensure that your employees are in the position that is best suited to their skills, abilities and talents? If someone is not a fit for their job or your organization, how do you transition them to a new position, or frankly, out of the organization?

5. Buy-in, Belief, Behavior and Hearts

To borrow from Kotter, how are you winning hearts and minds? How are you building "buy-in" throughout the organization? Do you have a guiding team that is working at all levels of the organization to make sure that the change, the ideas, and the vision for the future are shared by all of your people?

Don't Default to a Retreat:

If you reflect on these questions, you’ll start to see that the Transformational Work is less about a 9am-4pm Strategic Planning Retreat, and more about doing the deep, almost archeological dig into your organization.

Now, the 2 Bonuses

I. Culture Wars:

Is the culture of your organization eating your strategy (and your people) for breakfast? Answering these questions are great, and leading transformation that you’ve even captured in a Strategic Plan is good, too. But if the culture of the organization isn’t in alignment, and instead is toxic and uncollaborative, your best laid plans will not stand a chance when faced with your culture. Consider organizational culture something to diagnose and treat right along side your other change management strategies.

II. Be Strategic:

Shift your own thinking about organizational change: It’s better to have more strategic thinking in your organization than a hard-copy strategic plan. Strategic Thinking can carry your organization through all challenges, where a strategic plan might not be that nimble.

On all fronts, Wilson and Associates is here to provide support. We offer free discovery sessions to explore your organizational needs and these questions: we find that sometimes organizational leaders simply need to talk about these 5 questions with someone outside of their organization for a fresh perspective.


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