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  • Writer's pictureJerry Manas

Mastering Organizational Change: 50 Common Sense Tips – Part 7

Originally posted on January 10, 2017

So far, we’ve covered 30 of 50 common sense tips on mastering organizational change. Whether you’re implementing a new process, software rollout, or transitional culture change, these tools will round out your change toolbox.

Points 31-35 below continue the Engaging Phase in the three-step process I refer to as Planning, Selling, and Engaging.

31. Influence the Influencers – In any organization, there are those who set the norms; the everyday behaviors that define the culture. Rarely is this senior leadership. In his book The Big Picture: Education is Everyone’s Business, education reformer Dennis Littky shows how he achieved dramatic change in his hugely successful network of schools. He noted that, in any school, it’s not the teachers who set the culture, nor is it the principle. It’s the senior students. And so, he engaged the senior students in bringing about the culture change he wanted. It worked like a charm. Who sets the norms in your organization? Is it middle management? Certain influential employees? Whoever it is, try to solicit their help in driving the new culture. You may be surprised by the results.

32. Brand it! – Why do sports teams wear uniforms? Why do doctors wear scrubs? Why do corporations have logos? Why do associations have membership cards? Besides the more practical reasons, a key element of all of these is identity. Each of these is meant to instill pride. If appropriate, consider branding your initiative with a catchy name, and giving people a sense of identity with it through t-shirts, mugs, pens, or other items that can make them feel “part of the club.” If desired, even a result or cause can be branded, rather than the project itself (e.g. using a “90” to signify a milestone goal for 90 days, etc.).

33. Make it Fun – Mary Poppins was right. A spoonful of sugar does help the medicine go down. No matter how challenging, why not make your initiative fun, with rewards, contests, celebrations, and other activities that get people excited and looking at things in a positive light. Be careful about doing too many things after hours though, as some people just want to get home to their families. Also, beware of making the assumption that adding some fun activities to an otherwise negative environment will be perceived as positive. On the contrary, it can be perceived as putting lipstick on a pig. But when fun is supported by an overall positive climate, magical things can happen.

34. Aim for Small Teams – Research has shown that small teams tend to be more focused and accountable than individuals or large teams. Consider creating sub-teams to undertake certain aspects of your initiative. How small? Two is not enough diversity. Four can lead to taking sides. Three may be adequate for limited efforts. Most experts agree that five to nine is the ideal number for larger efforts, and that large teams should be broken into smaller teams of this size. Some suggest that an odd number of people will avoid ties during decisions, while others prefer an even number to allow for partnering within the team.

35. Be Well-Rounded – Teams need to employ a variety of personas to be effective as a whole. In The Ten Faces of Innovation, Tom Kelley, of the award-winning design firm IDEO, suggests considering ten personas that span three primary areas: learning, organizing, and building. These personas, which range from caregiver to director to experimenter, can assure that multiple perspectives are considered. At the very least, your team should have people who are goal and results focused and those who are people and relationship focused. A lack of either should indicate a problem.


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