Investing Time to Advance Change

March 1, 2018

Investing Time to Advance Change

There are two adages familiar to every organization is: time is money, and change is inevitable.  The interesting thing is that these truisms are connected—change doesn’t happen without an investment of time.  If an organization’s leadership is unwilling to invest the time it takes to properly address the needs, ideas, and priorities of the business to execute change, then the change is likely doomed to fail.   

How does an organization and its leaders identify the best way to spend its time?  There are a few key decisions and activities that require leader attention and direct engagement and discussion.  These time-consuming activities require collaboration, hands-on attention, and face-to-face interaction.  When they are identified and resourced, the critical aspects of the change are given the greatest chance for success.

Done effectively, the time spent can help move the organization forward—this is money well spent. 

Here are some hints for identifying when the investment of time is needed to advance your change agenda:

  • Two (or more) heads are better than one.  The best decisions are made when feedback and multiple viewpoints are taken into consideration.  Lone decision makers will not always make the best decisions for the organization.  Affording others the opportunity to engage in the discussion will bring about the most favorable outcomes.
  • Together you will succeed; divided you surely will fail.  It is not uncommon for individuals to balk at changes within an organization if they do not understand the rationale behind the change.  Ensuring smooth implementation of a strategy requires investing the time it takes to properly inform, educate and involve those tasked with effecting the change.  Having to achieve downstream buy-in after the fact requires more time and resources than simply taking the time to get everyone on board at the outset.  Furthermore, implementation will be a significantly smoother process when the individuals involved have a firm grasp on the goals driving the change.
  • Compromise is key.  Recognizing that strategic goals are not achievable without making trade-offs is key to organizational focus and success.  Negotiating priorities can be a difficult process, and sometimes sacrifices must be made to create an effective path to change.  Again, it is imperative to work collaboratively to ensure that the leadership responsible for all aspects of implementation is aware of and comfortable with the compromises made to achieve the best end result.
  • Accept the responsibility.  Executive leadership is tasked with making decisions in the best interests of the company, then overseeing those responsible for acting on the directives.  Taking the time to strategize as an executive team will produce the most viable options for implementation.  Investing the time in collaborative, deliberate decision making, then working confidently to achieve the organization’s goals from the top down is an essential part of effective leadership and crucial to the successful execution of strategies.

Fast change is ideal, but taking time in the right spots and on the right activities can make a big difference in the overall success or failure of an organizational change. So the question for HR and business executives alike is, “how will you best invest your time to ensure the greatest return for your organizational change?”

The Authors: 

Principal of AlignOrg Solutions, Reed Deshler specializes in developing strategic organization designs and helping companies bring them to fruition. He has guided organizations, including 3M, Abbott, Hertz, Chevron, Cisco, and General Mills through change successfully and helped them solve complex organizational challenges. Reed is co-author of Mastering the Cube: Overcoming Stumbling Blocks and Building an Organization that Works. He regularly writes and speaks on issues related to organization transformation and ways to implement—and create buy-in—among stakeholders for new business designs.

To learn more about organizational transformation, download AlignOrg Solutions’ complimentary guide, Winning Practices of Organization Transformation COEs