In my experience, conducting an Organizational Assessment is always a worthwhile exercise—even if it only reconfirms the validity of your existing plans. More often than not, however, such an assessment will identify and highlight significant issues that stand in the way of your organization’s effectiveness, adaptability and sustainability.
One tried-and-true approach in conducting an Organizational Assessment is to identify key functions and critical stakeholders — and the graphic shown at the top of this page is where I typically begin these strategic conversations with management teams and boards. Specific challenges and uncertainties will vary by industry — but there are common core components of the assessment to consider and customize. (For example, the “planning map” here shows an organizational review process for nonprofits; needless to say, the cast-of-stakeholders changes when conducting this process for organizations in the for-profit sector.)
These are the three phases I follow in helping clients achieve the adaptability needed for sustainable success in a rapidly changing environment:
1. Conduct an end-to-end Organizational Assessment to “diagnose” issues:
- How much time does the organization have? Determine urgency.
- Identify key stakeholder groups
- Conduct 1:1 interviews with board, staff and customers – LISTEN CAREFULLY
2. Develop a detailed turnaround/sustainability plan
- Set priorities (a 2×2 matrix may be helpful)
- Identify persons responsible for tasks and due dates
- Engage stakeholders to be part of the solution
- Develop a Change Management program
3. Focus relentlessly on EXECUTION
- Select a full-time Project Manager
- Identify goals and measure progress along the way
- Deploy the resources required to achieve goals
- Communicate, communicate, communicate — progress/challenges/successes regularly and frequently
- Celebrate achievements
Of the three phases, by far the most challenging for organizations is EXECUTION. That phase requires discipline, accountability, the commitment of visible leadership at the highest level in the organization, and a robust Change Management program to engage all stakeholders in moving the company forward.
At the same time, leadership needs to continue to “scan the horizon” for new opportunities and early identification of possible challenges — always asking “What’s next?”