Dani Robbins

Integrating Change

In Leadership on June 9, 2012 at 11:59 am

Since I became a consultant people have been asking me which change management planning model I use.  I’ve been answering that I create individual plans for my clients based on their needs and my experience leading change over many years, and I do.  Yet people never seem satisfied with that answer, which has always puzzled me.  People also quickly become dissatisfied when I say “It depends;” I still say it frequently, because it usually does depend – on the situation, the resources and the people at the table. 

I take my wisdom where I find it and their puzzlement has inspired me to challenge myself as to what answer I should be giving to help them better understand the work I do and also to identify and be proactive with the issues they face.  To help you think about your change, here are the issues I run into again and again:
1.     Role confusion between the board and the executive director, which may result in boundary crossings with the executive director performing the work of the board and the board performing the work of the exec.
2.     Lack of systems and measurements to ensure excellence, which may present as high turnover of clients and/or staff.
3.     Lack of policies to ensure safety or program continuity, which may lead to a general feeling of unease, or worse – a crisis.
4.     Lack of agreed upon goals, strategies or expectations, which may leave people spinning their wheels but not moving forward.
5.     No formal plan to recruit new board members or develop and evaluate current board members, which may result in a disengaged board, sometime with one or two members calling all the shots.
6.     No formal plan to raise money from a variety of sources/methods, make new friends or secure in-kind resources, which may result in staff layoffs that no one saw coming, fear of closure, multiple special events that raise little money and, occasionally, emergency fund raising.
7.     No professional development planning for the leadership or staff, which may result in the disengagement of staff.
8.     Executive Directors who are not aware of their role in building the board, which may lead to the creation of a weaker board that does not challenge the executive director.
9.     Boards that are not aware of the full scope or boundaries of their role, which may result in a lack of governance.
10.  All of the above. (Many of my clients meet none of the above, and that’s a different blog post.)
Capacity building is an important part of the foundation of successful change and addressing these issues usually depend on the following elements. If any of these elements are missing, the potential for sustainable change is compromised.
  1. The organization’s capacity for change
  2. People’s willingness to be uncomfortable and/or make others uncomfortable
  3. The strength of the leaders of the organizations and their emotional fortitude
  4. The willingness to implement a plan and not just check it off  a list and put in on a shelf.
Do I have a model for each issue?  I do.… yet the issues rarely come alone.  It might be issues 1, 3 and 7.  It might be issues 9 and 4.  It might be issues 5, 8 and 9.  It might be 10.  Even though the issues may be similar, the circumstance that prompts a call to a consultant is not.   As such, I offer individually tailored plans to meet the needs of my clients.  Those plans include trainings, meeting facilitation, plan development, goal and strategy setting, tactical planning to meet those goals, as well as coaching.
Which one do I use in which case?  It depends…..
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