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  • Writer's pictureJerry Manas

Mastering Organizational Change: 50 Common Sense Tips – Part 1

Originally posted on November 23, 2016

A while back, I wrote a white paper on software adoption and organizational change called “50 Ways to Lead Your Users” (which some of you over 40 may recognize as a play on the old Simon and Garfunkel song, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”). Since then, I’ve updated it and included it in my latest book, The Resource Management and Capacity Planning Handbook. I decided I’ll share the list, five tips at a time, in a series of ten posts that I’m calling  “Mastering Organizational Change – 50 Common Sense Tips.”

This first batch is part of the Planning phase in a three-step process I refer to as Planning, Selling, and Engaging.

So without further adieu, here are the first five tools in the toolbox for planning any kind of software or process implementation:


1. Don’t Kid Yourself. Understand that mandated value and mission statements do not drive behavior in themselves, nor do written policy manuals. And the more they’re created in a vacuum and then announced, the more they’ll be ignored by the general population. Instead, engage people in defining the desired culture and key success criteria; assess the current state; identify the gaps between the desired and current state; and explore methods for influencing behavior, many of which are outlined in the remaining tips.

2. Ask “Why are we here?”- Ask: What are we trying to achieve? For whom? When? In what order? What benefit are we aiming for? What’s the benefit of the benefit? Why should anyone care about this? These are the root questions that will formulate the communication plan.

3. Be Narrow-Minded – Albert Einstein famously said, “Confusion of goals and perfection of means seem, in my opinion, to characterize our age.” It also characterizes most implementations. Never confuse goals with solutions. Always start with a clear purpose—a singular call to action. Drive alignment around those goals, and the measurable objectives that will support them. Select just a few metrics and targets so as to narrow people’s focus and not dilute the effort. Aim for one major goal at a time if possible. Author Patrick Lencioni declared in his book Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars, that a singular call to action—a rallying cry—is vital for breaking down silos and unifying your organization.

4. Take Baby Steps – Don’t try to boil the ocean. Aim for piecemeal achievements that can serve as “quick wins” and build confidence. Try to have a series of short to mid-term goals. Perhaps start with a smaller group and/or begin with a limited scope of effort. Then move on to the next group or goal. Napoleon once said, “It is better to be the possessor of a canal ten leagues long every ten years than to wait a century for a hundred-league canal to be completed.”

5. Check Your Pulse – Before embarking on a journey, it’s a good idea to get a health check. This is true for organizations as well. The goal is to assess whether the organization’s behaviors are in line with its stated intent. There are diagnostic tools, surveys, and other assessment methods that can reveal—by region, department, management level, and other demographics—how well the organization mirrors the key success factors and stated values put forth by its leadership.

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