By Tuesday Ryan Hart, Phil Cass, Deb Helber
...I’ve been involved in several strategic change processes in the last several years. And, when I say involved it has been involved on the ground, sometimes every day, with the folks planning and implanting the change in their systems. No matter what change theory you feel strongly about or what process you are using, the most important part of the work for me – the part that really touches my core - is PEOPLE.
Taking good care of people during planning and implementing strategic change is where hosting participatory leadership and meaningful conversation are so important. Making strategic change requires that all of us to shift how we are in relationship with each other. If we are making large scale changes in organizations and communities, it means we all change – not just those folks over there. And, as the work changes, the systems changes, and we each change, it means that how we are going to be in relationship will naturally change. Funder/fundee; management/staff, provider/client…it all should be changing too. Participatory processes during planning and implementation give us a chance to practice being in relationship together – it allows us to begin to be different together, and it allows us to take better care of each other.
The other way we can take good care of people is by simply including them in the process – both planning and implantation. As more and more people touch what we are trying to change, we increase the amount of “DNA” that shows up in the change. One person may not see all of their ideas/recommendations come to life in the change but there is a greater chance that something they contributed to the work will show up. The change becomes more than it ever would have had only a few people touched it. Then the change becomes owned by a larger group rather than a small group. The change becomes more meaningful and impactful to the whole.
It’s not to say, in the words of a man I greatly admired, that things will be all “peace and love and Bobby Sherman”! Change is hard, change takes time, and there will always be a few that will hold tightly to what has been. And, yet, if we build something that we can see ourselves in, and if we build different and stronger relationships, we can hopefully hold each other and the shared work through the rocky times.
Please join us in April to hear more about how Art of Hosting Meaningful Conversations and Participatory Leadership integrates with strategic change work. We hope to see you there!