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Best Practices Do Not Work

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Many government agencies are challenged by broken change implementation processes.  In a desperate attempt to add some form of structure, we grab the cookie cutter and start pressing. 

The problem? "Best practices" do not always fit--and many times they simply won't stick. 

What does the change methodology look like for your organization? If you use a “cookie cutter—one size fits all” approach in your methodology for change implementation you might want to reconsider. Instead, use an existing methodology as a guide, but create a strategy that is uniquely customized to your organization.  This will maximize resource allocation and minimize costs. 

So where do you start?

Employees are the organization--use them.

Over the last 20 years we have experienced the onset of a technological revolution, the rise of the information economy and the increased value of knowledge workers.  This dynamic environment created more individual employees with more unique, valuable knowledge than ever before. Use the contributions of these knowledge workers--build their experience into your change strategy. 

Factor in organizational culture.

We often talk about organizational culture as a key component to understanding an organization. But we often fail to factor culture into our change strategies.  Choose a change strategy that will accommodate the nuance of your organizational culture and maximize the overall effectiveness of the implementation.

Evaluate (and then re-evaluate) the progress during and after. 

The change process should support a real-time “vector check” to see if the strategy is working (as planned) or if it needs adjustment.  Change methodologies include various combinations of steps, milestones, stages, and phases.  It does not matter how many and in what order.  What matters is verifying that the process is working. This will support managing budgets and timelines.

There are tens, if not hundreds, of steps, processes, and methodologies to assist organizations with change.  The challenge that comes before the change even begins is to carefully select and integrate a unique change strategy that will meet the needs of your organization.

In the absence of a customized change strategy that is unique to your organization, the potential success of the best planned change process remains uncertain. Whatever you do, don’t grab the cookie cutter!

Dr. Victoria M. Grady is an Assistant Professorial Lecturer at The George Washington University in Washington D.C., Principal Consultant at PivotPoint Business Solutions and co-author of The Pivot Point: Success in Organizational Change.

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