Why change doesn’t always work

Change that worksOne of the things I often notice when I am facilitating strategic planning programs for my clients is the wide range of attitudes to change portrayed by different business leaders in the room.

For some people the prospect of change is exciting and for others change is exhausting or even daunting.

It’s not unusual to find some participants with a gung-ho “any change is a good change” attitude literally facing off across the room against others with a more resistant “it’ll never work – anything but change” attitude.

And it’s true – change doesn’t always work!

But without change there is nothing.  As a strategic planning facilitator, ensuring that the changes your organisation embarks on not only work but yield positive results, is fundamental for me.

Whatever the attitudes strategic planning participants display, it is inevitable that some changes will arise from any strategic planning program.  So you can imagine I tend to spend quite a bit of time thinking about things like why change doesn’t always work.

Recently I joined Dean Holland’s Quick Start Challenge as part of my own continuing professional development and today I thought I might share with you some of Dean’s ideas about change and how to make it work.  I think you will find they offer a helpful perspective on why change doesn’t always work and why I am always wary of both the gung-ho “any change is a good change” people and the “anything but change” people.

We all know that change is inevitable.

In fact, everything is constantly changing.  Dean describes it as: “Change is automatic, like the weather.”

“However,” he goes on to say “PROGRESS is not automatic.  We have to take control and take action to see real progress.”

And this, it seems to me, is what lies at the root of the problems for the “anything but change” people.  When you feel like you have no control, or you adopt a passively resistant approach to change and implementing strategic planning outcomes, you will block progress even if you can’t delay change.  And so of course in this situation, change doesn’t work.

But it’s also a problem for the “any change is a good change” people .  Unless your proposed changes are aligned with well considered strategic objectives they will not yield real progress.  In fact they will become another example of change that didn’t work…

To achieve positive results with organisational change requires a process that brings people on board with the changes willingly, that develops understanding as to why the changes are important, what the benefits will be and how they will be shared, and that creates clarity about exactly what actions will foster the changes and who will take those actions.  Get this right and you will find change works!

So while change doesn’t always work, so long as your strategic planning process is well facilitated you can take control of the change process and be confident you will see real progress towards your desired results – and ultimately achieve true change that works!

Strategic Planning Blueprint for Success

Strategic Planning Blueprint SuccessWhen I work with organisations to develop their strategic plans it still surprises me how varied the goals and expectations of the team around the table can actually be.

So often senior management teams, who thought they were all heading in the same direction, discover with amazement the different future visions held by their colleagues.

As deep differences are uncovered, the reasons for conflict, problems and past failures can become evident. The clear and obvious path forward for one person represents a backward turn for another, until consensus can be reached on organisational direction. Values which some thought were shared by the group may need to be questioned and the meaning, mission and purpose of the organisation scrutinized.

Many programs, departments and organisations have been created and succeeded with no formal business plan. But only if they have a definite strategy: a strategic planning blueprint for success consisting of a clear vision of the future, a strong sense of purpose, a set of shared values and common expectations which guide the articulation of goals or milestones.

Organisations without such a strategic planning blueprint for success, not only clearly articulated but agreed and widely communicated, struggle.

Your Strategic Planning Blueprint

As organisations grow, articulating the strategic planning blueprint can often lead into a more formal business plan. For a smaller organisation, or a special program or project, just the blueprint or strategic plan may be sufficient. But the process of creating your strategic planning blueprint for success underpins most successful teams at all levels in your organisation.

Are all your people working to achieve the same vision?

“The only limits are, as always, those of vision.”

James Broughton

Contact us today for details of how you can develop an effective strategic planning blueprint that brings your whole team together to achieve the success you desire.


Effective Strategic Planning

Strategic planningStrategic planning is more than just a long staff meeting.

The process of strategic planning is probably one of the most powerful tools available to an organisation, department or team. When a group work together to develop a plan they carry a strong commitment to implementing it away with them.

Yet too many people have had poor experiences with strategic planning sessions which fail to reach decisions, or where communication problems, dominant personalities and internal politics prevent constructive interaction.

There is a lot written about strategic planning, but much less on how to ensure your strategic planning session is effective.

What makes Strategic Planning Effective?

A successful and effective strategic planning session needs to:

  • build team commitment and establish a shared vision of your preferred future
  • forge agreement on the need for changes
  • provide direction, purpose and accountability
  • identify the resources required
  • renew your team’s energy and enthusiasm, and
  • ensure everyone is focused on the actions which count.

Achieving all these outcomes, as well as generating a sound strategic plan, is more likely with independent, professional facilitation. A good strategic planning facilitator brings structure, an impartial perspective and useful expertise, experience and feedback.

Experience shows that when your strategic planning session is run by a team member the most likely outcome is a long staff meeting, with all the inherent dangers of entrenched positions, ‘group think’ and resistance to change.

An experienced facilitator who is expert in the strategic planning process can guide your group to a successful outcome by introducing new approaches and helping participants think creatively about problems, issues and opportunities.

By keeping discussions focused, on track and on time, and ensuring all voices are heard, key decisions are taken in a positive way, making sure your strategic planning is most effective.

Special Offer

If you are uncertain whether to use an external facilitator for your meeting, or you need to convince someone else to use one, have a look at our Free Fact Sheet ‘Why Use a Facilitator?’

(More ideas on how you can facilitate effective strategic planning in the Quick Tips below.)

Strategic Planning Quote of Note

“A corporation without a strategy is like an airplane weaving through stormy skies, hurled up and down, slammed by the wind, lost in the thunderheads. If lightning or crushing winds don’t destroy it, it will simply run out of gas.”

Alvin Toffler

Strategic Planning Facilitation Quick Tips

Involve your facilitator in designing your planning session. Their experience with many other groups offers valuable insight and new perspectives into what will be most effective in achieving your goals for the planning process.

A competent and experienced facilitator will have the flexibility, skills and ability to guide your group to its ultimate objective via a range of different paths. Encourage and empower your facilitator to modify planned activities in response to the group dynamic on the day.

Consider using an external strategic planning facilitator for other important meetings such as project debriefs, incident reviews, evaluations sessions, change implementation programs, employee forums, community or customer consultations and leadership programs.

And Call us on 03-9859 3924 to discuss how we can help make your next strategic planning workshop your most effective yet!

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