My favorite W. Edwards Dem­ing quote is “It is not nec­es­sary to change. Sur­vival is not manda­to­ry.” If you work in an entre­pre­neur­ial busi­ness like I do, then you know that change is a con­stant. Some changes are big, like adding a new ser­vice offer­ing. Some are small, like lever­ag­ing an exist­ing tech­nol­o­gy to stream­line a process. How­ev­er, in my expe­ri­ence, no mat­ter how big or small the change, the resis­tance lev­el is constant.

If you strug­gle with change man­age­ment in your orga­ni­za­tion, I am here to help. Below are 4 keys to cre­at­ing a suc­cess­ful and last­ing change with­in your business.

Align­ment | For change to be accept­ed AND imple­ment­ed it must be con­gru­ent with your stake­hold­ers’ expe­ri­ence of your orga­ni­za­tion. If you spe­cial­ize in bak­ing brown­ies, it would be a lit­tle alarm­ing if you decid­ed to start offer­ing invest­ment man­age­ment services.

Change, big or small, must be anchored in an organization’s pur­pose, pas­sion, vision and cul­ture. Before start­ing a major change ini­tia­tive, be 100% sure that your stake­hold­ers are clear on the organization’s core fun­da­men­tals. If they aren’t, the first step is edu­ca­tion and communication.

Timed Trans­paren­cy | There are those of us who thrive on change and the process of cre­at­ing change. There are oth­ers who will dig their heels in and resist even when it is clear the change will be ben­e­fi­cial. It’s all about fear, and fear mit­i­ga­tion. Draw on those with­in your orga­ni­za­tion who are change mak­ers to help you craft the vision and nav­i­gate all the options. Once you have nar­rowed your scope and have some clar­i­ty, slow­ly reveal the ideas to those who may be more resis­tant. Fear of change comes from a fear of the unknown. Too many pos­si­bil­i­ties and things feel uncer­tain, but not hav­ing enough infor­ma­tion and/or con­trol is just as detri­men­tal to your change ini­tia­tive. So, long sto­ry short, be as trans­par­ent as pos­si­ble, but make sure the tim­ing is right.

Stake­hold­er Input | Entre­pre­neurs & oth­ers in posi­tions of lead­er­ship have a ten­den­cy to think they know best and want to move very fast. I’m guilty of this myself from time to time. How­ev­er, the best things hap­pen to us and our orga­ni­za­tions when we invite oth­ers to be a part of the process.

If you have a large group of stake­hold­ers, I would sug­gest try­ing Open Space Tech­nol­o­gy. Open Space is a way to enable all kinds of peo­ple to cre­ate inspired orga­ni­za­tions, where ordi­nary peo­ple work togeth­er to cre­ate extra­or­di­nary results with reg­u­lar­i­ty. We just used this process at the Impact 100 Cincin­nati annu­al board retreat and I was astound­ed by the ideas that sprang forth.

Mea­sure­ment | To know that any ini­tia­tive has been suc­cess­ful we have to set goals and track our progress toward those goals. The con­cept is sim­ple, but exe­cu­tion, not so much. When decid­ing on a mea­sure­ment sys­tem remem­ber 3 things:

  1. Make it as sim­ple as pos­si­ble, but not sim­pler (Thanks Mr. Einstein) 
    1. Keep iter­at­ing if you need to. We rarely get things right on the first try. Just keep ask­ing why, and even­tu­al­ly you’ll find what’s right.
  1. Make it personal 
    1. A friend of mine is imple­ment­ing a vol­un­teer pro­gram with­in her orga­ni­za­tion. It’s time con­sum­ing and in the ear­ly stages. Her cowork­ers aren’t yet ful­ly onboard. I asked her what she was report­ing to them. She not­ed increase in num­ber of vol­un­teers, increase in vol­un­teers’ hours, & increase in vol­un­teer acu­men. While all of these num­bers are great, they aren’t per­son­al to the staff. So, I sug­gest­ed just report­ing num­ber of FTE (full-time equiv­a­lent) employ­ees cre­at­ed by vol­un­teer hours. And, light bulb. It was per­son­al, and the rest of the team got excited.
  1. Report Reg­u­lar­ly
    1. It may not be as sim­ple as pos­si­ble, and it may not be as per­son­al as you would like it to be, but if you report to your stake­hold­ers reg­u­lar­ly they will for­give a lot of sins. Just like com­mu­ni­ca­tion is key to get a change ini­tia­tive off the ground, it is imper­a­tive to the con­tin­ued imple­men­ta­tion and adop­tion as well. You can read more about report­ing rhythms in Mackey’s blog from Feb­ru­ary 2018.

If the choice is change or die, the choice is clear. Hope­ful­ly these 4 tools will help ease the pain of your next change man­age­ment project. Thanks for reading!