A brilliant business plan designed to achieve a list of financial, performance and other goals is simply a well-crafted PowerPoint presentation until it is broken down into specific strategies designed to deliver those goals. The strategies become operational details, projects and tasks. In most companies, these are crafted by capable leaders who may be leading the charge but cannot possibly have direct exposure to many of the skills required to deliver the business goals. Your employees are the vault of all this knowledge. So, how can you tap into all that collective wisdom early?
- Should your customer service function be playing a greater role in informing product development or R&D so it can get to work on the next generation of products and services?
- What types of people will you need in the future and with what skill sets?
- How much do you evolve your past core strengths, your legacy?
- How engaged do your people really need to be?
- How much should you emphasize market share first, then profits? Or vice-versa?
- How do you connect your employees with your organization’s greater purpose?
- How best to lead them, motivate them, reward them for tackling tough change?
- And how do you create continuous improvement without exhausting everyone?
Wouldn’t it be great to just have your employees tell you the answers to the sample questions in the sidebar? Surely all those subject matter experts throughout the organization know pieces to these and more puzzles, if you could only capture their input in constructive and actionable ways to inform the operational plans with accuracy. Too often company leaders have to make well-intentioned guesses because they have not discovered methodologies to capture their input in truly actionable ways.
Transformative change is by definition deep change. And deep change is about much more than just clear communication. It requires a workforce not only to adopt the new plans at every level, it requires far more authors than most organizations can manage. Today’s organizations and the businesses they run are often so complex that the best performance experts are the people doing the jobs, making the products and delivering the services.
So how do we capture all that employees know? If you involve your employees in identifying who you are now and who you need to be to deliver the goals, you will have mastered a key approach to avoid superficial change and transformation failure.
Large organizations often hire one of the “big box” consulting companies to lead people through the rationale for change, the benefits of the change and the perils of not changing. This can take months, hundreds of thousands of dollars and a mail cart’s worth of inactionable, detailed reports. There are other, smarter, faster and certainly more affordable options.
“If you involve your employees in identifying who you are now and who you need to be to deliver the goals, you will have mastered a key approach to avoid superficial change and transformation failure.”
Knowing how to solicit the input of hundreds or thousands of subject matter experts, not just the input of a hardworking and well-intentioned leadership team, is an important first step. Helping your company map a process to solicit a wider sphere of input, then how to understand it, and develop plans to use it, are those next steps.
For our clients, the next step is to engage people in redesigning their work to support the new challenges. Not only do engaged employees feel acknowledged and less powerless, they share their wealth of operating knowledge and improve the plans significantly.
This is just one way managers and leaders can directly and powerfully impact your organization’s success in a world of rapid-fire change. Go on, lead.