- Consider your bandwidth.
- Let’s face it. People are busy in their day-to-day jobs. It’s hard to add new tasks and initiatives on top of their roles and make those things a priority without a solid plan in place.
- Define your focus.
- Organization-wide initiatives take more time and complexity (think: mission, strategy, vision, new system changes, etc.). Whereas, only tackling small initiatives likely won’t create enough of an impact to solve your problems. It’s natural to want to solve all the problems right away, but starting with too much could cause burnout before you really make an impact. Consider a mix of small, medium, and large initiatives to make the broadest impact. More on that later.
- Hold your horses.
- Sometimes after a survey, employees are excited and empowered to tackle the issues that were discovered on their teams. We love that momentum, but allowing people to act without proper action planning can cause a sense of disorder and inconsistency in messaging. It’s better to have everyone on the same page before launching a plan.
The goal is to build on that excitement and momentum that leaders might feel to fix issues, but to approach action with goals, strategy, and structure.
Establish focus areas
- Focus on one to three areas to improve over 12 months. This may seem like too few, but less is more. By focusing your energy and attention on a small number, you guarantee that things are done well and that change lasts.
- On top of the day-to-day, prioritization can be a challenge. It’s helpful to use a prioritization tool to allow for consistency across the organization. Consider using a PICK chart (from LEAN Process Improvement) or creating your own prioritization matrix to get granular about what impact means to your organization.
Segment initiatives based on size and complexity
- Consider the resources available to act on your priorities, and then segment initiatives based on complexity. In general, we recommend:
- 1 – 2 broad initiatives
- 2-3 medium initiatives
- 8 – 10 small initiatives
- The segmentation process will help you further prioritize what is the most important and look objectively at the available resources (time, money, energy, etc.).
Create a governance structure
- Once you’ve figured out what to focus on, governance will set you up for success. A defined governance structure creates accountability for communication and reporting. It prevents leaders from micromanaging and keeps people out of the weeds. Most importantly, it helps to set up the lasting and sustainable change you’re looking for.
How to approach governance
Larger organizations often need more structured governance because changes are often more complex. Smaller organizations can get by with a less complex structure. Sometimes organizations are inclined to skip the governance part of planning (and just rely on everyone to do their jobs), but we don’t recommend that. Even a simple governance structure can significantly impact the project’s success.
- Build or assign teams to the project – Larger organizations tend to lean on existing teams that can help execute as a part of their jobs (executive, managers, human resources, etc.) However, if you’re working on a complex initiative that impacts many roles, it’s a good idea to create a cross-functional team for this purpose.
- Establish a reporting structure – Define roles such as project manager, project owner, and sponsor and establish clear lines of accountability. Decide who has the authority to change or end the project and rely on them to communicate those things out to the team.
- Communicate effectively – Decide how often reporting happens based on the complexity of the initiative. Having a regular reporting cadence allows people to set healthy boundaries and focus on execution.
- Be adaptable – it’s okay for your structure to evolve and change over time. We often see organizations grow and define their governance structures the longer they spend working on the project.