I wrote the other week about how I learned, without realizing it, many lessons about organizational change back in college. I left the most important lesson out, the shared mission.
Back in the Fraternity, we would debate almost anything for hours on end. We were all very passionate in our beliefs, and being young, had the energy to debate late into the night. (We were also shortsighted and neglected the realities of 8am classes).
It was rare that any vitriol would last more than a few days after a decision was reached. Many a Brother would walk out, slamming their key down (don’t ask). I only know of one Brother that hadn’t returned to the fold within days.
The reason was very simple, we all wanted the same thing.
Every single Brother shared the same end-goals for the organization. We just had different opinions on how to achieve them. Disagreements weren’t personal, they were simply different viewpoints. Realizing this was the quickest way for us to put aside differences and work together.
Connecting the Dots
The desire to achieve the common goal is common in any organization. While the level of passion varies greatly, the common mission and goal is still there. There are always exceptions where people put personal gain ahead of the organization’s goals. These exceptions tend to make for unhealthy organizations. Even then, in many organizations, personal and organizational goals align quite nicely.
This sounds more under conflict resolution than organizational change but it applies to both. Change is attempted when those initiating the change believe it will further the organization towards its goals. There will always be differences of opinion, but it is important to remember that it isn’t necessarily personal.
When implementing change, it is important to clearly say WHY the change is for the best. How will the organization benefit? How will the people in the organization benefit? If you can clearly explain that, then many protests can be removed. Those that remain can then be steered into a discussion of the pros and cons. Who knows, maybe there are factors that hadn’t been considered when planning for the change.
Of course, there will always be exceptions, but if you can get everyone to remember the common mission of the organization, then you are most of the way home.