Vince Ventresca Responds:
you assess your situation, it is important to keep two
questions in mind:
- Can I truly impact the greater cause?
- If I cannot truly impact the greater cause, am I
willing to accept the status quo or a lesser level of
Successful organizational change initiatives
typically have one primary commonality—support from
the top levels of the organization. Taking charge of a
grass-roots effort to influence change throughout the
greater organization can be daunting.
Start with smaller efforts, and accrue a series of
“wins” in order to begin effecting change.
Once you accumulate several successes with these
initiatives, you will gradually attract a larger group of
supporters and be able to take on greater projects.
First, though, you will need to build a team of
Think about those areas within your immediate control and
influence. Identify potential change agents who are
forward thinking and willing to assist your initiative.
Next, obtain the support of opinion leaders in your
area(s). Getting these folks on your team is one of the
most important components of a grass-roots effort.
Facilitate focus sessions with your team to identify
areas in which you can impact change. Consider the
following in your sessions:
- When people leave your department or area, what
are the most common reasons?
- What are the most common customer complaints
(internal and external customers)?
- Where in the mechanical processes can you find
inefficiencies resulting in lost opportunities or
- Where in the management processes can you find
inefficiencies resulting in lost opportunities, profit,
and/or reduced employee morale?
Once you and your team have developed a list of the
areas that need improvement, rank them based on
importance to the organization and ease of execution.
Select several of the smaller initiatives to begin. These
initiatives should be easy to implement, yet make a
For example, a manager in one of our client organizations
who wanted to effect positive change and employee
involvement recognized that the method in which paychecks
were distributed weekly was inefficient. Her team
brainstormed a quick, no cost solution, implemented it,
and was instantly rewarded with praise from several
departments for the increased efficiency. With that
momentum behind them, the team chose several other
initiatives in the same vein. Each time the team members
and opinion leaders promoted the change internally among
their peer groups. Soon this team became recognized
through the company as a high-performance group. They
took on larger projects and had many requests by others
in the company who wanted to become involved in their
As you can see by the above example, one of the most
important elements your team will have to create is your
plan to market your success within the greater
organization and manage the communications. By using the
team members and opinion leaders to carry word of your
successes into the organization, your efforts will
certainly catch the attention of senior management. As
your successes become more evident, seek a champion from
the executive level of the organization to represent your
efforts and the team at that level.
VINCE VENTRESCA, PMP, is a
project consultant at Advanced Management Services, Inc.
His firm consults and trains in continuous improvement,
project management, and management development. Ventresca
focuses on integrating quality principles into project
and organizational development practices and the synergy
of people, process, and technology. He can be reached at
(781) 344-1103, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 2001 News for a