Benefits of whole system strategic change
OD approaches that embrace technology as an integrated component of the strategic change process itself can
- enable whole system participation. With hurdles like travel costs and time zone issues greatly lessened through technology, bringing the whole organizational system into the room--employees, partners, customers, and so forth--is made possible. Ideas, opinions and issues from all stakeholder groups can be shared and considered in a collective forum virtually and in connection with face-to-face meetings.
- rapidly align dispersed stakeholders. Creating alignment between stakeholders who are located across the country or the globe can take months or years. By blending face-to-face participation with an inclusive virtual participation process, stakeholders can be brought together in productive ways that decrease the time it takes to reach an agreement.
- accelerate organizational readiness. Inviting the whole system to participate in the change process enhances communication, fosters buy-in and establishes a level of readiness for change that traditional communications plans cannot easily achieve.
- produce higher quality strategies and plans. Through obtaining direct input from both a horizontal and vertical slice of the organization, as well as partners, customers, and other stakeholder groups, more robust ideas and work products can be produced.
- foster collaborative learning and knowledge sharing. By linking together stakeholders that would not otherwise connect and communicate, it becomes possible to harness learning and knowledge in ways that surface and diffuse best practices, which leads to a greater capacity for innovation and organizational agility.
Integrating collaborative technology into OD interventions can open the door to new opportunities for engaging teams, workgroups, organizations, partners, and customers in collaborative change processes. But where do you start? Here are some tips that may help.
Assess the need. Determine if the needed intervention would be advanced through engaging stakeholders that cannot be in the room."
Determine readiness. To be successful, an organization must embrace the potential value of using technology to support the process. Determine the readiness of the client system to explore new ways of working.
Gauge the fit. Select technologies that fit the desired intervention. Know when you’re looking for divergent vs. convergent thinking, qualitative vs. quantitative input, individual vs. group contributions, and so on, and choose the tools that support the lifecycle stage of the process.
Make the business case. While there are costs associated with applying technology, using technology can also reduce travel costs, save time, and accelerate the change process. Defining the ROI (return-on-investment) of using technology helps garner support for new approaches.
Define integration points. OD interventions that involve technology also typically include face-to-face meetings. Look for ways to use technology prior to, during, and after meetings to support group and organizational goals.
Engage the early adopters. Identify individuals who are predisposed to embrace technology as part of the process in order to create early wins that create proof points for the new approach.
Tell success stories. Even small successes can be used as stories to energize the organization and inspire others to participate through the new tools and approaches.
Technology in OD is here to stay. More and more, OD interventions will include collaborative technology as a core enabler of the change process. As OD practitioners apply these tools to their work, especially when they enable whole system change, new expectations within organizations are established. Once people experience the possibilities associated with incorporating the voices of a larger collective in ways that increase participation, accelerate change, and deliver higher quality results, the value of process-focused collaborative technologies are established and the organization’s desired future draws nearer.
Published: October 2004