Exploiting Opportunity

There are so many things that happen every day within a team and organization. Even companies that seem to move at a glacial pace have lots of moments that avail themselves to the opportunistic consultant seeking change.

If you’ve been in any larger company for more than a year, you’ve probably developed an instinctual habit of rolling your eyes at the word, “Re-Org.” Many of us see that day as when some imaginary dealer picks up a deck of cards containing all of the managers and departments and shuffles them before dealing the next hand of cards.

Same people, same structural elements are all there, but now there is confusion as to what exactly the boundaries are, who reports to who and if the direction set previously will stand or not.

Some people get shy around such moments and hang on for the ride, but I don’t. I accelerate into it.

The Moment

Look around what is happening every day. Listen for the questions that are uttered in lowered voices. Find places where people seem confused or frustrated. That small list will likely give you plenty to observe, and you get all most all of those elements in a re-org.

Those indicators are signs that I use to see if there is an opportunity to accelerate change.

So back to the re-org example. Inevitably there will be a lot of questions lobbied to the newly shuffled in leadership from their newly shuffled groups. Nobody will have a lot of answers, change needs to happen, but the business has to continue. This moment can be very awkward, and many people will wait to see what shakes out.

Instead of waiting, talk with the leadership now. Offer to tell them the current situation and what the group needs right now based on your experience. Make the transition easy by helping them know the people around and what is coming up.

It is in this moment of confusion and learning that it can be straightforward to accelerate a change that was otherwise locked in consideration. The new leadership wants to help, they don’t know the context, and you can use both. Give the leadership context and give them a change that will help.

What Change to Offer

More than likely, you have a lot of ideas that you want to see put into action. Lots of ways to improve are right there, but how do you choose?

Well, I often keep a high-level idea of the changes I want to make. I keep them written down too. It may seem silly or old-fashioned, but it helps me retain them and re-evaluate them regularly when they’re written down.

The other reason I keep them written down is that I’ll usually have an idea of where I want to start with changes based on what I’m observing. When I see an opportunity like a re-org, I may suddenly shuffle the order. Because I have them written down, I can puzzle through what different sequencing and order will look like in my head.

When I see a moment that looks like it can accelerate change, I look at which change presents itself as a win-win scenario. For example, a new leader joins a group that has had a difficult time coordinating releases. The new manager needs to know what is going on everywhere and will also need to find out what is going on with the releases. Let’s say you also have figured out that the teams are just a few steps away from having most of their release problems fully automated, but they haven’t entirely carried out the last bits of work to wrap up their automation.

You can bring the context and history of the team as well as the idea of wrapping up the automation, and then this release problem may no longer be an issue that annoys the new manager.

From my side of things that may mean a lot of extra work for me as my initial plans are completely re-ordered, but that’s the job, in my opinion.

Fearless Change

There are opportunities everywhere in a company. The things that make people nervous or hesitant are a clue. The things that confuse are as well. Hone your senses to pick up on these indicators, look through your menu of change and bring it forward to help everyone. Everyone wants to make a difference and have an impact, bring them the way forward when they are unsure.