Every organisation is looking to improve the effectiveness and the efficiency of its operations. We are all looking for ways to make progress.
The Big Leap
Most of the time organisations go for a ‘big leap’ strategy. They choose a framework or mental model to hang their change efforts on (swot, lean thinking, systems thinking, balanced scorecard, 6 sigma, quality models etc) and then go through a process of ‘strategic planning’ followed by an implementation phase when employees are ‘engaged’ to make change happen.
They plan the jump, build the ramp and then open the throttle. This is by far the preferred choice of most organisations and some of them manage to make the leap.
The Tiny Steps
This is a much more unusual strategy for making progress. The first step in making this work is getting every one in the organisation crystal clear on what the organisation exists to do and how they can contribute. This is where third sector/social change organisations have a real advantage over the profit chasers because of the potential that lies in giving people the chance to make a real difference in society.
The second step is about talking to employees one-on-one every week – about what they have done, what they are going to do and how they can build their contribution in the future. Working with simple management tools including feedback, coaching and delegation these one to ones provide the vehicle for continually keeping everyone ‘aligned’ and contributing to the organisation. Every week it provides an opportunity to coach, improve and delegate. And these processes generate progress and change through a series of tiny steps. Every employee growing their contribution – every week. Week by week, person by person progress is made.
This ‘Tiny Steps’ strategy is a pretty rare choice for organisations to take. It does not rely on gurus or consultants to make it work. It does not need to be underpinned by advanced training – it requires time, commitment and discipline. It requires great management – not great theory.
So choose your way forward with care.