We’ve been talking about setting strategy and goals to help lead change. While each topic can be considered on its own and each has helpful tools, it’s also true that they are strongly interconnected. Before we move on, I’d like to share a couple of lessons I’ve learned about setting strategic goals.
Pay attention to the timing. What else is happening in your organization? Do people have the capacity to attend to your change right now? I’ve seen a lot of well-intended and potentially useful changes flounder because of poor timing. No matter how critical the change may be, if there are other, even more important, activities going on at the same time your change may not get the attention it deserves. If your college is in the midst of an accreditation review, it’s probably not a good time to restructure the curriculum.
Clarify the unstated values. I’ve been helping to develop some training on prevention of discrimination and harassment. The learning goals include things like understanding MnSCU policy, knowing important definitions, and identifying resources. These are important, but by using a new set of design tools to explore the underlying values, I realized that what we really want is for leaders to be committed to furthering a safe and respectful environment for MnSCU students, staff, and guests. This core value will help me to shape more meaningful learning goals for the policy implementation course.
Pay attention to the people. There are many tactical tools for creating strategy and designing strategic goals. But don’t forget that the vast majority of changes don’t fail because of business processes. They fail because, for some reason, the right people weren’t involved and committed. When I lead project kickoff meetings, I always spend a great deal of time helping the team members get to know each other and understand what each one is bringing to the table. Task-oriented leaders may think this is a waste of time, but I’ve learned over and over again that it pays off in smoother processes along the way.
During May we’ll be talking more about ways to engage stakeholders in the change process. What challenges have you faced in the people aspects of leading change?
Dee Anne Bonebright