Sometimes, the process of strategic planning produces more than a strategic plan. Often, it’s an agent of change, bringing about shifts in culture and staff engagement.
The following are key considerations for building a tailored Organizational Change Management Framework. We’ve based these on our own experiences of what we’ve seen work in the field and have woven in a few industry best practices as well.
- Have a clear vision: Executive leadership must communicate a clear picture of where the organization is today, what success looks like in the future, and the organizational culture required to achieve it. This must be done consistently throughout the strategic planning process, using multiple communication channels.
- Influence the right people at the right times: People accept personal responsibility for change at a different pace. Identify early adopters, or those that carry greater influence over staff first. Get their support for cultural change and their commitment toward being a catalyst. This is best accomplished during 1:1 discussion between executive leadership and key staff.
- Leverage what’s already working: Identify current initiatives, actions, or processes that reinforce the behaviors of the ideal organizational culture. Identify areas of success to further strengthen as strategic opportunities during a SWOT exercise. Think practical and pragmatic, not always big picture. What are the little things that are working that can be easily replicated across the organization?
- Invoke the heart: Don’t just let people be aware of change. Make them feel it. Speak to the emotional impact that positive change will have on individuals and the team dynamic. Communicate how organizational change improves the quality of an individual’s work experience. This should start during pre-planning, staff-wide communications, staff meetings, and all-staff town hall meetings.
- Demystify the elephant: The big, bad and scary doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Break it into smaller, more palatable, bite-sized pieces. Change the individual pieces, not the entirety all at once. These components of the bigger challenge, or opportunity may become your organization’s Strategic Priorities during the Strategic Planning Process.
- Personalize it: Personalize the impact of a cultural shift staff-wide during communications. Answer the question, "what’s in it for me?" How an organization answers this question needs to be incorporated into communication channels supporting the Strategic Planning Process.
- Let people see it: Help leadership, including senior management, visualize the change. Use pictures. Use analogies. Use comparisons. People believe things they can see. When management sees the picture, they can help tell the visual story.
- Magnify small wins: Do something about the small things that have the biggest impact first. Highlight areas where cross-divisional collaboration and coordination has already taken place.
- Tell the story: An audience loves a good story. Share it often, from different perspectives, including those from a divisional perspective. How is the strategic planning process positively impacting the division? What’s changing? What’s changing as a result of the strategy’s execution?
Change management is no easy feat, but using these key considerations can equip you to engage your organization to get buy-in on your new direction. Consistent, tactful communication and encouragement can allow you to cultivate the flame and illuminate your organization’s newly forged path.