Last week, we looked at the personal level of work related to this question. This week, I want to look at the organizational level.
First, leaders start making change happen by increasing the level of urgency rather than panic in the organization. However, after the first short term win, they often resort to solving immediate problems. They undersell the urgency factor and as a result people believe “We’ve won” and thus “We’re done.”
To change this situation, leaders must keep showing people why continued urgency is needed. We need to celebrate the short term wins and connect current successes to past decisions that were based on the proposed strategic direction and current strategic plan. Nevertheless, we need to continue to point out why on-going improvements are needed.
Second, we must have the courage and fortitude to confront embedded bureaucratic and political behaviors. This will not be easy and may require all of us to review the book, Crucial Conversations. We know that by doing this level of work we will encounter situations where opinions will vary, stakes will be high and emotions will run strong and deep. Still, we do not have the luxury of avoiding these challenges. Strategic blindness and context blindness are real.
When engaging in this kind of work remember to follow the late Stephen Covey’s advice: “Seek first to understand, second to be understood.” This involves making it safe to share and always monitoring your own behavior. Some days we get so busy solving problems that we do not realize that our behavior is constantly sending a message.
Finally, do not forget that resistance is a form of feedback. The goal is to be open to feedback. There may be important information within it that will help you and the organization as a whole.