Organizational Development is a big category.
Any time you are addressing something that will either help the people, improve the systems or introduce new skills into the organization, you are developing the organization.
Working with a quasi-government agency, who had seen 10 new chiefs in 17 years, the new chief wanted to make sure the organization got the attention it deserved. The union shop and long term government employees were notorious for digging in their collective heels when changes were proposed, so he knew he had to proceed carefully and inclusively.
We set about interviewing all the key employees, from the shop steward, to the support staff up to the most senior staff. We got input from the other chiefs at the agency about what they needed from his group.
We then went about creating a new strategy and redesigning the organization, holding periodic open house poster sessions to introduce people to the new ideas and get their input (including some very creative thoughts on how to design and implement.)
When everything was set, the Chief introduced the new organizational plan to everyone. There was still a bit of resistance from some who thought they were being marginalized, so we met with them to sort out their concerns and showed them how it was going to work in their favor.
Three and six weeks after the implementation of the new structure, we held a meeting with all the managers asking them what the glitches were, which activities that were no longer in their purview they were still being asked to perform (and by whom), and what they were afraid was falling through the cracks. We were able to 1) train the managers in how to redirect the requests that they were getting (saying “no” isn’t easy for anyone), 2) craft communications to reinforce the new structure, and 3) insure that nothing was falling through the cracks.
Included in the new design was a request for head-count. The agency was very sensitive to head count increases and made it difficult to take on new people – requiring massive justifications for each addition. The day before the meeting in which the head-count requests were being made, we had a meeting of all senior staff. With the intention of insuring that each head was necessary, we went through each one asked the manager for the justification. In two cases, the manager said “well, we could probably do it with one head, not two but I figured I needed to ask for two in order to get one.” In those cases, we took the request down to one to the dismay of the managers. The Chief emerged from the meeting the next day having received EVERY ONE of his head count requests, and he said it was, no doubt, due to the fact that he was absolutely sure there was no ‘fat’ in his request and he didn’t equivocate even the smallest amount.
That Chief stayed for 7 years, breaking the pattern of the 1.7 year tenure and two people who were planning on retiring decided they would stay since things seemed to be more interesting. When asked in the post-change interviews, “Do you think the strategy and organizational structure would stay intact even if this Chief left?” The answer was a resounding, “Yes.”
A high performing data modeling technician in a well-known financial company was an average manager needing help. He was a busy guy who had to be both producer and manager, strategist and tactician. He was completely capable of all this, but needed some help in follow through, using his resources, hiring practices and, most of all, the appearance of a “devil may care” attitude, the subject of much consternation.
As usual, we started with a set of interviews and a few assessments. Key among them, the Birkman assessment. Then we identified goals, and got clear on the perceived barriers to achieving those goals and developed plans to ensure we produced those goals. In this case, we met weekly for 9 months and slowly, but surely, we moved him though to achieving his goals. It was a tough time for him, since I had been brought close to the end of his managers patience with him. There were issues constantly coming up that had to be dealt with quickly, but in the end, he learned how to get it all done.
There are scores of coaching examples, some long term engagements and some as short as three months. If you have a problem you don’t know how to solve or a result you don’t know how to achieve, working closely with a coach can help you.
Managing a meeting and participating in it at the same time can work in a small setting, but when you have gathered more than 7 people and have an important result to produce, you need the discipline of a meeting facilitator to insure the results get achieved.
We worked with a Knowledge Management group for their annual all hands meeting, we started two months before working with the core team to determine and articulate the results, craft the agenda, dole out assignments as development projects, and upgrade presentation skills as well as strategic thinking for all the key players. We were able to manage everything from breakfast, breaks and breakout sessions, plenary sessions, dinner, entertainment and ad-hoc gatherings to support the overall and specific goals of the event.
In this environment, new leaders were discovered, new relationships were forged and new ideas flourished… and the results of the meeting were produced. Not bad at all.
I put together a project management protocol and process for non-Project Managers. If you are building a bridge or designing a software package, you will need something more robust, but for people who have projects that take less than a year, this can be helpful. Strategic Project Design will help you defining your goals (specific, measurable, time bound), create milestones, determine who you need to include and when, and flesh out the project with all the detail and actions you need to be successful.
- Create Vision – a supremely important step, even for small projects. It helps you stay away from having the project descend into drudgery and critical to keep the team enthused and on track. It answers the question “Why are we doing this?” or “What makes this worth doing?”
- Objective – A broad statement of the end result; the answer to the question, “What are we doing?”
- Conditions of Satisfaction – Specific, measurable conditions that must be met in order for the project to have been completed successfully. The answer to the question,”How will we know the project is a success?
- Milestones – Specific, measurable results which must be achieved along the way to each Condition of Satisfaction. The answer to the question, “What interim results must we achieve, by when, to realize the Conditions of Satisfaction?”
In Strategic Project Design,we go into much more detail on these elements of the project. Try it for yourself and see.
If you have questions about how the protocol works, I’m happy to discuss it. Please contact me and we can talk.