The Change Architecture – Getting The Most From Your Strategic Plan
By Dawn-Marie Turner, PhD
A strategic plan is your organization’s road map; it defines where the organization needs to go, why it needs to go there, and what it needs to do to get there. Now more than ever an organization needs a strategic plan to guide its decisions and actions. It is an essential tool for business successSo if the strategic plan is such an essential tool, why do so many employees and leaders feel they receive so little value from such a large piece of work?
One reason is that many organizations believe knowledge equals behaviour, a fundamental flaw in most strategic plans. Jonathon Wolfgang Goethe, an 18th century German poet stated “Knowing is not enough, we must apply, willing is not enough, we must do”. Most strategic plans simply fail to link the goals of the plan with the changes and thus the transition the affected individuals will need to make to realize those goals. Knowledge helps form the intention for action, but action requires much more – it requires the individuals in the organization to:
- Have internalized the behaviours, activities and attitudes the strategic goals represent and require of them
- See themselves performing the behaviour and activities
- Believe the organizational culture is consistent with the behaviour or activities in the strategic plan
The strategic change architecture provides a map of the changes needed in your organization to successfully implement your strategic goals.
The benefits of the strategic change architecture are:
- Identifies the change(s) required by the individuals in the organization
- Provides a bridge between the strategic goals of the organization and activities, behaviours and attitudes that will be required to achieve the goals
- Enables better use of existing resources
- Enables the organization to leverage existing projects and work, to accomplish the strategic goals
Creating the strategic change architecture requires four steps:
- Define a clear detailed strategic outcome. John Nesbit, a professor at Simon Fraser University stated “strategic planning is worthless—unless there is a strategic vision”. The strategic vision must be more than a high level statement. It must be a detailed sketch of what the organization will look like when the plan has been successfully implemented.
- Define the strategic goals. The strategic goals are where the organization expects to be, by when.
- Document the strategic change areas. These are the changes required by both the individuals and the organization to achieve the strategic goals.
- Assess the current organizational change landscape. In 1996, it was estimated that at least 84% of companies were undertaking at least one change initiative and that as many as 46% had three or more changes occurring simultaneously1. A strategic change map allows the organization to see what changes are needed, what changes are currently in progress for the organization and the affected individuals, and how these change initiatives support or detract from the strategic goals.
Without an understanding of what is required for the organization to carry forward the necessary actions to meet the strategic goals, time, energy and money is spent on a strategic plan that in the end may only support the status quo. The change architecture links the strategic vision with the changes required for it to be realized.
- Nikolaou, I., Gouras, A., Vakola, M., & Bourantas, D. (2007). Selecting change agents: Exploring traits and skills in a simulated environment. Journal of Change Management, 7(3-4), 291-313.