Last week I hosted an interesting discussion with a group of strategy management professionals. The topic was open, but it turns out most had the same general theme in mind: how to keep a focus on strategy and change during times of turmoil.
The scenarios were different but the challenge was the same. Whether the organization was suffering from the recession, or undergoing a merger, or experiencing a change in leadership, the common question was: “How do we maintain continuity of strategy and long term focus when our people are focused on short term survival?”
Leadership and change theory would suggest to double-down on the vision at that point. Keep your eye on the future so you can make sure you’re still headed in the right direction. Beat the strategy drum so everyone knows it’s still important.
The advice that bubbled up from the group, however, was different. As change agents and strategy practitioners, they were not in executive leadership positions. From their perspective, the best thing to do was to help the organization focus on the right short-term efforts. If everyone was going to be stuck in the present, then they should stay there too and not fight it.
By maintaining focus on the projects and initiatives that were developed to implement the strategy, the group felt they would better be able to weather the storm. Behind the scenes, they would continue to make sure projects were linked to the long-term strategy.
What is your experience making sure your change initiative survived turmoil? What advice would you give?