“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw

Time has gone by fast!  I can’t believe it was two months ago that we decided to sell our home and move. As a result, I have been reflecting on change and how moving provides insights for how change happens for you as a nonprofit leader. The elements of change and process of managing it are common no matter what it’s about. Let’s start with the first four.

  1. Environmental shift. Not unlike the changes you experience in your nonprofit, our move was triggered by a shift in the environment: developments (positive) in our neighborhood. As you think about a change in your nonprofit that you managed, what environmental shift triggered it?
  1. Assessment. If you are monitoring the environment the shift may be subtle and not noticed until factors accumulate and it gets to a point that you move into proactive assessment mode. Or, if the shift is sudden and significant you may experience it as a crisis and you will also move into assessment mode. The latter was the case for us.

We were comfortable. We weren’t monitoring housing in our neighborhood. Then something     happened that caused us to quickly re-evaluate our situation. With new information, we assessed our situation  from a whole new perspective and got uncomfortable (in a good way but uncomfortable still). In assessment mode you evaluate the shift, your options and pros and cons—however it plays out for you. You take stock of the situation and the implications for you and your nonprofit.

For change efforts in organizations to be successful the need for change must be felt. There needs to be a sense of urgency. People need to get uncomfortable with the status quo. For us, learning that the housing market would slow down and prices would likely drop as we entered summer months created a sense of urgency we felt. When you want to create change, think about how you can reach people emotionally and create that felt urgency.

Assessment, then, needs to result not just in rational evidence, but in an emotional response that supports (or not) the change you are considering.

  1. Engagement. You know that in nonprofits inclusion in the process is very important. As a leader you need different perspectives. Different views bring information to include in your assessment. Also, you need to engage those affected so they buy in and have that emotional connection.

My husband and I had to engage in this process together for a positive outcome. Without an aligned sense of urgency and an assessment that resulted in an agreement, the outcome for us would have been different. That takes us to the fourth step.

  1. Decision. After assessment, you make a decision. That’s when you take some kind of action or not. Either way it’s a decision. Our assessment led us to decide to sell our home and do it now.

These first elements of change are not necessarily linear. You may repeat assessment and engagement several times before you are ready to decide.

We decided and have been immersed in the next elements of this change. More on that next time!

I would love to hear your ideas about this. Is what I am describing here consistent with your experience–either personally or as a nonprofit leader? What was different for you?


Photo by mrpuen via freedigitalphotos.net