The reality of most organizations is that there are multiple strategies run by multiple divisions / leaders (most independent of each other) and these are broken into multiple Portfolios, Programs and Projects (also often run independent of each other).
The effect is that change “rains” into the organization from all of these separate initiatives.
The unit of change
Much of the literature and training speaks of change as a single unit – as a strategy or project – and the approaches are designed around deploying “a unit of change”. This has utility as a concept but does it run out of usefulness in application?
It is not an academic exercise to identify the main sources of change and to draw the picture of how it hits employees. Further, given that it is generally accepted that organizations must transform often to remain competitive these days, this is actually a perennial issue.
Many organizations do communications that explain the Enterprise strategy (the case for change) where the Enterprise Strategy is treated as “the unit of change” at the macro level – and often employees understand and even support the “why” .
Feedback from employees
When we hear feedback from employees (even in organizations with some good change management in multiple projects and good Organization Development across the board), we hear comments like:
- I get so many communications that I cannot remember them or find the info when I need it
- Could you give some thought to when you are deploying change – and refrain from downloading a lot on us at the same time
- I am falling behind on the change the organization is asking me to make / I cannot keep up
IMHO we should not jump to the conclusion that this is classic resistance. Employees are not saying ‘this is a bad idea’ or ‘I don’t want to do this’.
Roll up or Roll down?
What do you do (does your organization do) to bring context to this experience for employees? To optimize change management / organization development at the Enterprise level?
Do you work against “a unit of change”? Do you roll up project “units” into “strategy” units? Does rolling it up from the bottom work for you (eg Stakeholder Impact Analysis)?
Do you concurrently come at it from the top down, as in from the perspective of creating organizational agility?
I have opened a discussion in the Organizational Change Practitioners Group on LinkedIn and hope you will join the dialogue there. Those who know me know that I have many thoughts on this topic AND that I hope for a rich debate and dialogue so that we can compare notes and learn from each other.
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Change Whisperer by www.gailseverini.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.