Come on, Steve! I’ve just gotten this business funded and running and you want me to worry about Organization Development and Organizational Change! You’ve got to be kidding!
The suggestion seems premature and excessive. It’s not. As the organization forms and grows, even as a start-up, it goes through an enormous amount of change. An organization is a large system with many moving parts. Shifting or wiggling one of those parts moves and affects all of them. Decisions are being made regarding processes, tools, organization structure, systems, skill development, symbols, and style whether they are conscious, in-context, aligned with the organization’s strategy, or not.
The start-up Business Plan includes many of the elements of a Strategic Plan.
The strategic parts most critical to each employee are:
- Mission: Who are we? What do we do? What do we make? What’s important to us?
- Vision: How do we envision a bright future? Where are we going? “When” is the future?
- Values: What behaviors make us who we are and want to be? What are the filters through which decisions should be run?
- Strategy: What do we need to do to move from where we are to where we want to go? What business opportunities are a “best fit?”
These need to be communicated to each employee. Everyone needs to know the plan so they can help the organization achieve it. They also form the basis for establishing the “moving parts” of the organization system.
Of course, no organization can operate solely from a strategic plan. These long-term objectives need to be broken down into short-term (e.g. annual and quarterly) action-oriented goals. Everything the organization does should be aligned with achieving the goals and objectives of the business.
The Operating Plan needs to include consideration for establishing and continuously improving processes, tools, organization structure, systems, skills development, symbols, and style.
Most leaders and member of organizations understand the importance of processes and tools. They intuitively perceive the importance of consistency and compatibility. They want to deliver a quality product and understand why that is critical to the continuing success of the business through customer satisfaction.
Fewer leaders and members of organizations understand the importance of organization structure, systems, skills development, symbols, and style. That is unfortunate. These are referred to as “the human system” and represents the elements most connected to the people who do the work and their “care and feeding.”
THE BOTTOM LINE: Change happens from the very beginning of a business until it stops operating. Lead the change in organization or it will lead you. This may or may not be where you really want to go.
Stephen P. (Steve) Czerniak
About the author: Mr. Czerniak retired after a successful career that culminated in fifteen years of experience as an internal consultant and “change agent.” He is currently a volunteer at Macomb-Oakland University INCubator.