Organizational forces are more powerful that you may suspect. In fact, these forces can derail most, if not all, change initiatives.
Here are tips on what to check before you embark on your change journey.
Leadership. It is simply your first stop. Are leaders aligned to the vision? Are they really behind what the change will mean for themselves and their teams? This is a required stop.
Journey and culture. Is the organization experiencing excessive amounts of other change? How long has this been going on for? Does the culture support the change or is a culture change needed? This is a big one, as culture changes slowly, and can be more like a cross country trip that needs proper planning.
Mission and vision. Is the destination clearly described? Do employees buy-in to where you are going and your purpose? Plus, do employees connect the near-term strategy to the longer destination? Connect the dots first.
Structure. Was there was a recent re-organization? If so, I would tread with caution. Make sure those roles and interactions are embedded or on their way. Explore if your change can further embed the new organization’s structure.
Systems and processes. Is the very change you are supporting a new system or process? I would still suggest checking how it all works today and what the change really aims to solve.
Practices and climate. These are like the tracks on the journey. If they are not laid right and properly maintained, then it will be hard to weave the new way of working into the fabric of the organization. Check that this foundation is in working order. If you need to adapt it for the change to take hold, then make the investment. I would also check how feedback and reward happen in the organization and enhance it to embed the change.
The individual. Like the passenger, they can choose not to board your change train. Check that you understand their values and needs and how these relates to the future. You may need to re-engage. This relates to the motivation of your employees. While we know from a neuroscience perspective that motivation is not required for change, it sure makes it easier.
Lastly, there are skills that the organization needs, like being able to assess reality, see multiple points of view, and be clear on what it values and set its boundaries. I would argue that such skills that we save for individuals are also important to assess at the organizational level before you embark on a change.
If you are confident in most areas, you have an effective organization. Embark on your journey. Just remember to check these items along the way. If you lack in several areas, it may be worth enhancing these fundamental areas before jumping on the change train.
Good luck! Please share your insights. What has tried to derail your change? How did you stay on track?