How many times have you said and/or heard this? I’ve personally lost count.
And yet, many times we get so caught up in the great new idea we formed or heard presented at the last executive seminar we attended, that we actually fail to see how it fits into the big organizational picture; how many others and/or projects and programs it will affect if implemented.
As noted by Kotter and Schlesinger in the Harvard Business Review, one of the most significant challenges for business leaders is the ability to anticipate, recognize, and acknowledge the need for organizational change. Once they accept the need for change, they are then faced the additional challenges of choosing the method and degree of change, while developing a vision to move the company forward that is the most appropriate for their specific circumstances.
Failing to consider these cornerstones when embarking on a change initiative can only be described as not seeing the forest for the trees. As we all know, the unintended consequences of focusing on the trees instead of the forest can be catastrophic in business.
Sure, the keynote speaker (aka organizational development expert) at your last executive seminar presented a fantastic option for improving the efficiency of your organization; that’s his job. It’s what he does for a living, and his presentation was simply awesome!
Regardless of how good he made it sound, think about the forest instead of the trees. In other words, will you commit yourself, your organization, and the necessary resources to the work that must be done before dropping it on your employees, or are you just excited about the presentation you saw, and now believe wholeheartedly that it’s the quick and easy answer to all your organizational problems?
Change is inevitable
- How much change is necessary?
- How will you engage and communicate with your organization so that they can see and support your vision?
- How do you mitigate the resistance that is inevitable?
- Can you sell this vision to your company and board even though it can take years to bear fruit?
- Can you afford the cost?
- Can you afford not to do it?
- What will the new structure look like, and how will you manage the effects of the change?
Change is inevitable, and leaders who cannot, or will not, anticipate change and lead the way with a sound, innovative strategic plan and organizational structure its employees and board can get behind will find themselves at a distinct disadvantage. Just ask Ron Johnson how that worked out for him at JCPenney.
Again, looking at the trees only offers a beautiful, peaceful view filled with obstacles. However, looking at the forest rather than the trees, and then painstakingly devising a fully researched, inclusive and developed way through it is the only path to successful implementation.
Before founding her own consulting firm, Dawn Gannon served as a respected management professional in the military, higher education, and healthcare fields for 25 years. As a Lean/Six Sigma Green Belt, Dawn’s commitment and personal mission to improve the lives of others through service to the community focuses on providing administrative and volunteer management, consumer education, public outreach, event planning, relationship-building efforts, and strategic planning. She is the author of the Management in Motion blog, and has written a number of articles for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association on the topic of childfree living.