I think it is safe to say that every organization, no matter how big or how small, could improve in some way. Sometimes it is forced upon you by a large shift in the business you are in, or by turnover at the executive/management level with a mandate to “turn things around”.
More subtle is the constant opportunity for small but useful changes which can accumulate over time and make the organization much healthier. However, how can those changes come about?
Often I hear of “bringing in consultants” to come and spend some time within the organization and then provide a plan for the change. Usually you are then parted with an amount of money and left to implement the said plan on your own terms, taking the parts that you want.
However, maybe there is a better way to try to bring about meaningful and lasting change (hopefully positive as well) within an organization?
It starts by looking internally for ways to bring people together. I truly believe that current staff is a huge untapped potential for ideas and change that can sometimes go untapped. The impulse to bring in outside consultants should be buried, at least for a while, so that internal members can use their knowledge of how the organization currently works to try to come up with ways to make things better. There are obviously things that can be made better and maybe someone who is already there has an idea of what that might be.
Doing this can have two added benefits (besides the change):
- It is cheaper. You area already paying someone to work for you, so why not pay them to also try to make the business even better.
- It gives current staff some sense of “buy-in” into the organization if their ideas are taken seriously and results are seen. This is the more “fluffy” of the two but might be the more important.
Then try to put in place processes to encourage continual change within the organization. Plan regular gatherings with the sole purpose of trying to think of ways to improve things. Include department across the organization because, often, individual departments don’t know what the other is doing. Steve Jobs was rumored to have built the Pixar headquarters specifically to encourage this sort of cross-department talk to bring new ideas into play (not to mention the new Apple headquarters being built). Find ways to do the same within your own organization.
There is no silver bullet, obviously, but I recommend looking internally first before bringing in outside help who have a limited understanding of what you are currently doing. There are times for that, but exhaust current options first.