Sorry, no golf tips here if you were misled by the title. My current reading, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant, has me thinking about organizational dynamics and changes over time. Some of this post is a reflection on the reading, some is based on past experiences in driving change in organizations over the years.
Within your organization, there are probably things you wish were different. You’ve got different options for your change management stance. How you approach the changes that you seek and those options have different chances of success. This isn’t ALL of the possible scenarios, just a few common ones to think about as you navigate change.
Seek out key players within the organization who are currently driving change and learn from the ways they have found to navigate change within the overarching culture. Ask them to grab coffee or lunch. Offer yourself up as a resource to work on projects with those people. Use this time to learn about how change happens in your organization. Most importantly, appropriately express the need for the change you seek with a plan to get there.
Voice your desire as a dissenting opinion to all of those around you and try to build a coalition of peers who all agree that things aren’t as they are supposed to be. Over time, the negative opinions take over and no one really remembers what you originally were seeking change for, but now you’ve got a long list. Often, this group doesn’t have a plan to get to their desired outcome, just the idea that things are wrong.
Defend the organization as it stands because you have the feeling that ‘nothing that you do will make a difference.’ In your mind, you may not drive the change you are hoping for, but at least you won’t stand out and risk being seen as a rabble rouser.
So what can you do TODAY to start driving change?
- Prioritize: Of the changes you seek, know which one will have the most positive impact for the business. This should be your lead dog and main focus to start out. Once you get there, you will have some credits in the bank that you can cash in for other, more personal or targeted change.
- Clarify: Make sure that your vision for change is clear, concise, and easily digested.
- Plan: Any time you are seeking to drive change, spend time thinking about how you might get there. Think of as many different departments and divisions as you can and how they would have to contribute. Maybe the change you seek requires more human capital than the organization can afford for the outcome. Your supervisor or project sponsor will appreciate and consider your change much more often if you being it forward with a well thought out plan toward the goal.
- Collaborate: Figure out what problems are already being solved (or that the organization is trying to solve) and find a way to get involved. This will allow you to see what the process looks like and build up some change experience.
- Network: Find people of influence internally that you can make connections with. When you are driving change, you need people with clout in your corner.
- Stay Positive: While this seems obvious, staying positive can be one of the more difficult aspects of driving change. Throughout the process, you may be rejected many times. Your ideas might fall on deaf ears. It’s easy to get negative. If you can maintain your focus and stay positive, your chances of success greatly improve.