Foster a Culture of Strategic Change to Give Strategic Initiatives a Chance
written by: John P. Reiling
• edited by: Tricia Goss
• updated: 10/31/2016
Strategic Initiative Management is, at least in part, a fancy way of describing how a company manages its portfolio of projects. No matter the situation, projects represent one thing: CHANGE.
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Everybody has heard the quote, “The only thing for certain is change." How many of us – individually and collectively, embrace that? The only way to answer that question is to honestly and courageously dig deeper and look at how we behave in the face of change.
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Think about project reporting for a moment. What are the reactions to the news? Some items are on time, some are slipping and some might even be ahead. There are conversations to be had. Do people trust one another to be open, honest and transparent? What is the reaction to the delivers of the news? What about to those responsible for the various progress (or lack) being reported?
In order to embrace change effectively, we need to learn to expect the unexpected. We need to learn to put ourselves – personally and organizationally – out there by taking action, monitor results, make course corrections, and do it all over again. The key is that we need to be willing to learn – which requires being willing to question our understanding, play, and be willing to make mistakes.
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Creating a Culture that Embraces Change
One way to measure our willingness to embrace change is to measure our picture or how we would like things to be. If we picture things under complete and rigid control, where we expect little or no deviation from what we plan, I would question our propensity to embrace change. However, on the other hand, if we redefine control in terms of embracing change, are willing to experiment, and learn, to tolerate ambiguity, permit mistakes within a sphere of control, and trust the team, then you are well on your way to embracing change in a rapidly changing world.
With this picture in mind, I think there are five keys to creating an attitude and culture that embraces change:
Transparency – People need to be open and honest, trust others and be unafraid of the truth.
Tolerance – Differences need to be tolerated – in terms of approaches, reactions, insights and even results.
Top cover – Upper management needs to adopt the philosophy – and accept that change is inevitable and needs to be our friend.
Willingness to embrace change – We must set up processes that, through the discipline of effective execution, builds confidence – and an endurance that can withstand and no buckle in the face of constant change.
Collaboration with mutual trust – We need to see this as a team sport, where contributions from all are needed more than ever.
How would you rate yourself and your team or organization in terms of willingness to embrace change?
This series covers raising awareness of the strategic aspect of project management and how projects must focus only on 80:20 opportunities; keeping processes simple; growing the human and institutional capabilities of the organization; and the importance of fostering a culture of strategic change/