Initiate Change In An Organisation - 10 positive ways to do it

Initiate Change In An Organisation - 10 positive ways to do it

I get lots of questions from people who want to initiate change in an organisation. Here are 10 ideas to start playing with to start nudging the business in the right direction. And usually it takes time. Lots of time. And it’s always painful – at least in my experience – here’s another article on how to turn around a team if you’ve inhereted a poor peforming team.

Of course, you should be aware that your view on what change is needed, may not actually be what the company does need. It’s always important to understand the purpose of the change and why it is needed. We sometimes fall into the trap of wishing things were different, from a personal perspective, when the reality is we often need to change also. As Jon Kabat-Zin pointed out so well – wherever you go, there you are (affiliate link).

But if you are sure the organisation needs to change, then let’s crack on.

What follows are ways to make that long journey just a little bit shorter.

1. Start collaborating

There are ALWAYS people wanting to initiate change and make a business better. Always. I often say that the trick of good management is finding people who want change and opening the doors for them. Find like minded people in your organisation and start sharing ideas, product knowledge, skills and experience. I absolutely guarantee that there will be somebody in your organisation that also sees a need to change and is likely already working on it.

Network like crazy. Use the intranet or wiki or other internal tools to bring people together around a common set of ideas for change.

In some organisations you may be scolded or frowned upon for trying to make things better. Believe it or not, some people like the dysfunction. Some people are employed because of the dysfunction, so go carefully. Sometimes an “underground” approach is an effective way of doing it. But tread carefully.

Don’t do anything that will risk you losing your job. And if you do work in an environment where you could lose your job for trying to make improvements, you may be working in the wrong company!

2. Go to external events

There is plenty of inspiration and ideation to be had at industry events. If you have like minded people in your organisation looking for change, it is often worth you all hearing from other people. One of the joys of speaking at conferences is the networking after the talk. There are always people wanting to know more and learn how to make things happen in their organisation. Most speakers at these events are more than happy to shoot the breeze, offer advice, offer supporting material and of course, no doubt offer their own services. But go and seek inspiration.

In our connected world you don’t even need to go to an event – there are plenty online too! The feeling you will all have coming back from a good networking or speaking event will help with your energy and motivation as you seek to initiate change in your organisation.

3. Give people a central resource centre to go to

Start creating a library of resources and learning for those interested in improvements and change. This could be a physical library of books, or a wiki page with suggested reading/watching. A wiki page where employees can work through videos, online articles, internal training resources and reading lists is a great way of sharing knowledge. A community chat is a good idea; I’ve seen these work extremely well in gathering like minded people together to share ideas, shine a light on good work already being done (there’s always someone initiating change for the good somewhere) and come together to form relationships.

4. Make meetings regular

Start a regular meeting in which you encourage people to share ideas and treat everyone with respect, no matter how wild their ideas may be. This could be a subset of people who are interested or a small steering group of people. These work best when you have an executive sponsor, like someone who wants to see change happen but doesn’t quite know what levers they can pull.

Keep notes and records and start to build up a catalogue of ideas, experiments, examples and case studies that can help others be inspired to initiate change.

5. Pair with other people in the same role

Start pairing with other people in the same role but a different department, in an effort to build strong relationships and understand some of the constraints and obstacles other people face.

By building relationships across the business you will also build a wider awareness and understand more about the system construct. Understanding the system is an important aspect of understand what changes can be made.

6. Engage with people from other roles

Seek out people in different roles within your organisation and learn about their work. This is similar to number 5 but you’ll be building relationships with people in different roles. By understanding who does what and why, you can start to seed ideas, understand more about the work and deal with any challenges put up from other people – of which there will be loads when you make change.

7. Socialise Ideas (constantly)

Start socialising your improvement ideas with anyone who will listen. In my experience, initiating change starts with planting the seed of an idea that can make discussions about change more positive. Get feedback on the ideas. Talk to others. Encourage other people to share their ideas about initiating change.

8.Build relationships across the business

Set up one2ones with people who can help initiate change the process – it’s all about relationships.

Start talking about the change you want to how they view these changes. Is it more political than you first thought?

Are these ideas already being discussed by other groups?

Are there other changes in the pipeline that simply have not been communicated?

9. Read a lot

Read a lot. Reading about how other people are working, ideally in industries that are different to yours, is one of the best ways to spark ideas for your own work. On my reading list are loads of book recommendations – and the common pattern amongst them, is that they are not typically related to management or agility. I get more ideas from books about other industries than I do from many within this industry. Build a library and share ideas with those like minded people

But be careful. At some point the research needs to stop and implementation needs to start.

10. Build case studies

Start gathering interesting trends about the work you’re doing – and then socialise these with the rest of the business.

Find other companies doing something similar and see what you can learn from them. Sometimes, it’s easier to initiate change when you can point at another company and highlight how well a similar initiative worked for them. Invite guest speakers in to talk about how they have changed their businesses. Find example in the mainstream press of companies having great success after initiating change in their business or process.

People often respond better by knowing that others have had success with these changes you propose.

This all takes time though and it can sometimes be a futile activity, but rest assured there will be others who share your enthusiasm for change.

There will also be people who want to curb your enthusiasm. Keep trying though. Don’t give in until you’ve explored as many options as you have the energy for.

The key is understanding that change is like pulling a car. To move people into motion you need to use emotion – and then gather like minded people around you to create momentum.