For many of our clients, the most challenging part of strategic planning is the change it generates. Sometimes a plan results in transformational, upheaving shifts. Sometimes there are tweaks to an already-good general direction. Sometimes the organization “changes” its way into a merger or a dissolution.
We’ve found that the scale of change — particularly for nonprofits — does not really matter. Be they big or small, any changes feel momentous in mission-driven organizations. This is partly the nature of a shared thread of culture at all NGOs, where the vesting of individuals in the organization is much greater than it may be at a corporation. It is also, however, because nonprofits can be really bad at directing, planning for, and communicating change.
A recent piece from McKinsey captures well what goes into a good change-management process. “The Science of Organizational Transformations” is based on a field survey of executives. It’s a quick read; pay particular attention to the Influence Model on page 3. That idea of creating a powerful “change story” is even more important in mission-driven organizations, with those devoted and heavily invested staff members.