Category Archives: change management

3 tips to make change happen

Surprise! Development and alumni organizations must change. Frequently. Sometimes, inexplicably. And, typically, with some difficulty.

Board leadership, executive leadership, organizational direction and cases for support, super star researchers/ faculty/ curators/ whatever–changes here often force change. The economy, technology, emergencies, demographic shifts, socio-political–changes in these areas can forever alter the very viability of our work. Change happens constantly and all around us. So, how can we get more comfortable with it?

The best book I’ve read recently offered three ways to channel change. Dan and Chip Heath’s Switch raises the fascinating question of why we sometimes embrace life-altering change yet often eschew simple changes. Getting married and moving to a new country? Awesome! Forcing me to file my expense report a day earlier? How dare you! The Heath brothers suggest three tactics to embrace change: control the emotional elements; confirm the logical elements; and, clear the path of change. It’s a terrific book. So, how might this help advancement folk?

  1. Emotion. Where change is concerned, we want to allow for emotions to run their course. Don’t bottle them up. Listen. Empathize. But, help your comrades realize that this change will make them feel better. And, most importantly, pull the band-aid off. Respectfully remind folks that the team needs to move ahead and get right with the decision being made.
  2. Logic. Have this ready, but it can’t be the lead-in over emotion. So, gauge your audience and figure out who will respond to logic more quickly. Nearly every big change I’ve orchestrated employs the same logical syllogism: A) The current state isn’t cutting it. B) More successful options are available. C) Therefore, the current state must be improved by adopting changes based on what is more successful. Simple. Clean. And, frankly, pretty hard for highly emotive folks to debunk.
  3. Direction. Advancement is complicated. We can and should build road maps, but keep in mind that sometimes our best GPS skills cannot predict what’s along the path. The best way to show direction is to depict what success will look like in the brave new world. Create sample reports that, once change occurs, will project progress. Establish attainable metrics that remind folks why they show up to work every day.

Change happens. Solutions must follow suit. What tips and tricks to embracing change have work for you?