People Change – The First Time Around

Over time, the institutional knowledge and impact of the founders, original leaders, and employees of an organization can be taken for granted.  It can be difficult to envision the organization without their vision and commitment, so planning can be inadequate when it comes to people.

Sometimes, it seems easier not to think too far in the future, and reflect primarily on current issues and challenges, but standard procedure includes succession planning for the future.  This applies to every level of the organization, staff, officers, long-term consultants, board members, volunteers, and stakeholders of many types.

Whether you are part of a family business, a non-profit, a corporation, or any organization, planning for the future means planning for people change and transition.  Particularly challenging is the unique approach that must be taken when an organization is going through the succession of its founding participants, for the very first time.

Embrace Your Organizational People Change

  • Know your History –  If you have a history of successful transitions, determine what has worked and what has not.  Be explicit and record the process that worked and those changes that will make change better in the future.
  •  Seek New Firsts –  Organizations that are on the cusp of losing most or all of its founding team members should acknowledge that they are on the verge of a new and exciting change.  Plan accordingly, because there is limited institutional knowledge and experience in this area.  Communicating about the plan and creating opportunities for active listening will increase acceptance and minimize fear.
  • Get the Facts – Evaluate and review current demographics for likely transition trends.  This is the “who” and “when” of the process.  From the facts, a plan can be developed for gradually adding new people with sufficient time for on-boarding and integration into the organization.
  • Transition prudently – The most successful organizations know how people leave the organization is at least as important as how they join.  Adequate time and attention should be devoted to the change management process.  Keep in mind that everyone crosses the threshold of change many times in their career.   Organizational culture is best served by doing this well.
  • Capitalize on Institutional Knowledge – Setting up appropriate connections for those leaving the organization will preserve and nurture institutional knowledge, wisdom and history.
  • Create the Foundation for Future Success – Creating change for the future means building on the foundation of the past.  This entails a rigorous exercise to determine what served well in the past, but needs to change, what should be preserved, as well as how to integrate new people, ideas, and approaches.
  • Allow Time – The overall plan for people change should be tied into the strategic process for the organization.  People change is greater than a tactical initiative.  Allow enough time for the organization and its people to absorb the change and to execute the plan for maximum positive impact.

Strategy & Planning: People Change – The First Time Around… ©Change Create Transform 2016

Harvesting for Success: 6 Key Steps

Growing up in the Chicagoland area, fall was a great a season because it meant harvest time. It started with helping Mom out in her garden, where I learned about annuals, perennials, and vegetable gardening. She took great discipline and care with her garden, and our hours together in the yard was a time for her to share the principles upon which she built her life. This was the beginning of my understanding that success is a journey of which harvesting is a small part. As a young girl, I did not look forward to what I saw as the hard part of planting flowers and vegetables, cultivation. This meant digging up the ground, pulling out weeds, pulverizing the ground, spreading fertilizer, spacing and planting seeds or seedlings, followed by days and days of watering and weeding. I was interested in picking flowers and eating fruits and vegetables. I later came to appreciate all the steps leading up to harvest time.

Every year when fall arrives, my gardening memories take me back to the importance of cultivation. It anchors me to a fundamental principle; our harvest is in direct correlation to what we plant. Business results lead us to examine not only what we have planted, but to explore our methods of cultivation.

  • Build on a new foundation. (Digging up the ground) Get to the bottom of where you are heading, what needs to change, and what customers and stakeholders are saying.
  • Make necessary changes before trying to add something new. (Pulling out weeds) Take the time to discover what may be getting in the way of success.
  • Expect superior results through engaged commitment. (Pulverizing the ground) Commit the energy, time and money to prepare for the current environment or new direction.
  • Enjoy a successful business by arming people with tools, resources and a robust culture. (Spreading the fertilizer) Invest capital and attention in developing people and providing all the ingredients necessary to support intended outcomes.
  • Activate attention to detail as an indispensable part of effective execution. (Spacing and planting the seed) Discipline and conscious authenticity are critical in implementing the key components of a business plan.
  • Embrace the care and feeding of your business and its people. (Watering and weeding) What we give our attention to grows. Once you have taken the steps above, it is important to nurture what you have planted.

This harvest season is an occasion to focus on our plans for the future. Although rewarding, a harvest’s true value lies in gaining insight into what can be planted for the years ahead and how we commit to cultivate our plans and actions.

Strategy & Planning: Harvesting for Success: 6 Key Steps ©Change Create Transform 2015

Better Not Bigger: 3 Ways Innovation is Contrarian

Companies that successfully innovate and gain a lead in the marketplace rarely keep their lead over time.

1. Innovations are non-conforming

Many innovations are misunderstood. Sometimes consumers are slow to understand a new product and the value it provides. It takes time for the marketplace to absorb the fundamental aspects of an innovation – and for people to appreciate the value. An example is the gift card industry, which has gone from zero to $100 billion a year in the last twenty years. 93% of Americans either purchased or received a gift card last year and 83% of businesses use them for employee incentives. Once considered unacceptable by many, today gift cards are a safe option when gift giving. But gift cards may be on the decline, with $1 billion in unredeemed cards last year.

2. Innovations run their course

Copycat competition is a marketplace certainty. New entrants will replicate and commoditize innovations, getting their slice of the pie without incurring research and development costs, and driving consumer prices lower. Successful companies may focus too heavily on what made them successful. This often happens at the expense of new innovations, resulting in wasted ideas and insulation from customer feedback. Eventually, the marketplace becomes saturated and only those companies that innovate anew will survive.

3. Innovation drives consumer demand

It is important to listen to customers, but not necessarily at the outset of an innovation process. Why? Businesses fear their inability to deliver products that are faster, more efficient, and better value, all for less money. If a business can set the pace and parameters for innovation, they can exceed customer expectations by delivering something that customers have not yet envisioned. Customer feedback typically drives business improvement, but not necessarily innovation. Businesses that can innovate in ways that drive demand from a current product set to a new one break the mold and create a whole new way to live and get things done.

Better not Bigger: 3 Ways Innovation is Contrarian ©Change Create Transform® 2015

Better Not Bigger: Four Signs a Company “Cares”

Many of today’s workforce says they are overworked and underpaid. According to the American Psychological Association Center for Organizational Excellence, 49% of workers say they are undervalued.

Are people an important asset in most companies? In today’s politically correct environment, most companies have written principles touting their workforce, and the individuals comprising it, as their most important asset, right up there with customers. Company belief systems can best be evaluated by looking at a company’s actions. We all know – actions speak louder than words.
There are four keys areas that help objectively demonstrate how a company values the individuals they hire. Many individuals seek, freedom and meaning in their work, and these four principles factor heavily in a sense of freedom and purpose.

One : Movement
The days of “straight ahead” career paths as the sole approach are behind us. As a company moves, each individual has a role to play. Both are vital to a dynamic business environment. Organizations that encourage interesting and scene changing movement provide a healthy environment for individual growth and self-development. Raises and promotions should continue to be available based upon performance of the company and individual.

Two : Learning
Multiple careers are the reality of the 21st century. Work environments that “keep it fresh” are valued. Frequently monitor how staff are growing and developing. Offer opportunities for non-traditional learning outside normal training and development. An example is, sabbatical days, weeks or months. Publicize opportunities for advancement while celebrating examples of individuals who have advanced within the company because of their willingness to learn.

Three : Well Being
An investment in staff well-being is an investment in the company. Health and wellness programs are more popular than ever and can be utilized by companies of all sizes. Bigger is not necessarily better. Be creative. Take a first step by introducing healthier snacks for the staff room and help everyone stay fit by supporting a discounted gym membership. Wellness days can be affordable and fun. Many suppliers of wellness services are anxious to partner with like-minded companies to achieve their mission, healthier people. Introducing a coordinated, comprehensive program that entails assessment, coaching and education, and even incentive programs are a great way to boost the entire office.

Four : Flexibility
There are two important considerations when it comes to flexibility in the workplace, time and work styles. Make sure to utilize a practical and efficient approach to work hours and scheduling. The more challenging goal is to embrace work style diversity. This means being aware of, and open to, differences in learning, thinking and processing styles. This kind of attention to differences and strengths is appreciated by individuals while providing a competitive advantage. Diversity of style results in more creativity, better outcomes, and stronger organizations.

Every organization, size aside, can focus on movement, learning, well-being, and flexibility. Those that do will find the workplace more pleasant, fulfilling, productive and profitable.

Better Not Bigger: Four Signs a Company “Cares” © Change Create Transform 2015