Change Management
July 2, 2013

Finding focus in the chaos

Are you overwhelmed by your to-do list? Does so much of what you deemed a “priority” never seem to get done? You need to FOCUS on the right priorities amid the chaos.

Where do you start? You start by stopping.

First, stop, look and listen. We forget the simple rules that have profound impact. Tunnel vision is dangerous. Making assumptions is dangerous. When we are besieged by the chaos, we are likely doing both.

To find the right priorities, you need to see the whole picture. There are underlying patterns to what is going on – and to what is not going on – in your organization. You need to find them. Don’t assume that the way you see the situation is the only way: ask around.

You know you will have completed this step when you have a sense of grounding. It will feel as if you just finished a simple connect-the-dots and can now see the whole drawing.

The second step is called unite. This step is about creating an environment in which everyone cares about the priorities and does their part to advance the work.

You are not looking for a final priority list but for a sense of shared purpose. By using the words “we” and “us” when discussing the team’s, clients’ and organization’s needs, you will find patterns surfacing. This will establish a shared view of how different needs can align and contribute to a broader set of goals and priorities.

The outcome of this step is that people involved are now looking beyond their own needs for the answers. Trust in the possibility that progress is beginning to simmer.

The third step is to clarify. Here, clarity is about more than words. Because of the last step, there will be a new level of curiosity. Your role is to nurture it, to help separate facts from stories. You are helping your team look for common purpose and relationships.

Don’t fall into an old trap: it isn’t necessary for everyone, including you, to agree on every detail. It is necessary for everyone to understand what each other is saying.

In the past it may have felt that your team was talking but not hearing each other. The outcome of this step is that they develop the ability to empathize with each other.

You know the saying: “If you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got.” In the fourth step we are advocating a paradigm shift in the kind of options you will seek.

This step is called out of the ordinary. You are clear on the needs. Now you are seeking to come up with powerful possibilities for moving forward.

Seek audacious, high impact solutions. Well-aimed audacity is energizing. And high impact is what you have been wanting. Try changing the timeframe. If you usually set priorities for the year, try setting them for a month instead. Keep it simple. Ideas that are too complex generate more work than progress. Most important, get creative. “Same old” will put you and your team to sleep before you start.

At the end of this step you will have a sense of powerful possibilities. Watch for your group to shift as they become energized by the possibilities

The last step is to forge ahead. It is about choosing and following though.

It will be really tempting to fall into paralysis by analysis or to seek perfection instead of just getting moving. Let go and trust the group’s wisdom. Follow the critical mass of support. Progress is the goal.

We recommend that the selection criteria not be about the usual: monetary impact, scorecard impact, etc. Instead make it about things that will spur momentum and action, a shift in beliefs and thus spur further action. Choose one or three, not ten or 70. When you complete the first three, your groups’ pride will energize them to pick and complete three more.

You and your group will know when they have hit upon the answers. You will have a sense of focus amid what used to feel like chaos.

This article was co-authored with Maureen Cunningham, an organizational change coach, facilitator and speaker with Up Until Now (www.upuntilnow.ca).

 

About this author

0 comments

There are no comments for this post yet.

Be the first to comment. Click here.

Change Management
 
In the show today, J. Richard Jones talks with Dean McKeown,...
 
Leadership, service delivery, change management, performance measurement, big data, transparency, digital...
 
The “Magic Loogie” scene is vintage Seinfeld. It is a pastiche...
 
Welcome to the fall edition of CGE. Since our last issue,...
 
We risk missing out on the potential “Artificial Intelligence” has to...
 
In the 5th century BC, Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem....
 
From research to policy implementation, Canadian public servants possess the knowledge...
 
We all ask why governments fail, often spectacularly, to carry out...
 
Citizens are embracing technology as it rapidly changes. The experience that...
 
Federal efforts to increase the use of data to inform and...
 
Emerging technologies are getting faster and smarter. Cognitive capabilities, robotics and...
 
Canadian Government Executive is honoured to have Michael Wernick, Clerk of...
 
On a recent visit to Ottawa, I had the opportunity to...
 
Does your organization have a very narrow view of what digital...
 
With businesses and government agencies increasingly operating in a highly information-based...
 
Canadian Government Executive media through its upcoming TechGov event is providing the...
 
The answer my friends is blowin’ in the wind … BOB...
 
There’s no shortage of organizations claiming to have a digital transformation...
 
Laskey Hart guest hosts CGE Radio this week with a summary...
 
Rules and accountability are helpful in developing and standardizing processes but...
 
Canada’s top soldier said the Armed Forces continue to be locked...
 
It’s a common notion that young workers born in the mid-1990s...
 
In order to find out which strategies and priorities CFOs are...
 
A small but rapidly growing number of businesses have started hiring...
 
As populations grow and age, the demand for services increases. As...
 
Computer software company Adobe, has migrated more than 11 million pages...
 
Here’s some bad news for organizations contemplating projects that have something...
 
The facility of a top-secret military communications group in Borden, Ontario...
 
As the adoption rate of big data technologies among Canadian companies...
 
By Craig Killough In March of this year, the Prime Minister’s Advisory...
 
Written by  Roxanne Descôteaux When I first became a manager over...
 
Every four years, on average, Canadians elect a government from among...
 
It’s no secret that LEAN has demonstrated great success in the...
 
There have been a great number of change initiatives in the...
 
If you ask any municipal Chief Administrative Office (CAO) across Canada...
 
Change is difficult. The psychology of loss aversion means we are...
 
After serving in the public service for 24 years, Norman shares...
 
The federal government, through Shared Services Canada, is focusing on integrating...
 
The Centre for Creative Leadership has published a paper called Public...
 
“Finding efficiencies” might be an overused cliché, but allied defence forces...
 
Are you overwhelmed by your to-do list? Does so much of...
 
The idea of a merger of DFAIT and CIDA is not...
 
If your internal planning and reporting systems seem “archaic,” how do...
 
Strange as it may seem, a majority of us would opt...
 
What characterizes successful change management? Six leaders and leadership teams will...
 
The British Columbia Public Service is vying for talent in an...
 
In times of change, middle managers make the difference. Sandwiched between...
 
Once again, Policy Horizons Canada has prepared exclusively for CGE a...
 
Like an athletic coach, an independent project reviewer understands what it...
 
In October, Wayne Wouters, Clerk of the Privy Council, received CAPAM’s...
 
As young public servants, members of the national Federal Youth Network...
 
Canada’s North is at the forefront of unprecedented change and the...
 
Public sector reform can be like falling down a rabbit hole...
 
Transforming Government for the Future...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.6 June 2007 Learning and development are best achieved...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.5 May 2007 Peter Harder retired recently. He served...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.5 May 2007 Karen Ellis est vice-présidente de la...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.3 March 2007 Many leaders view change as an...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.2 February 2007 The 2005 centennial celebration of the...
 
CGE Vol. 14 No.5 May 2008 Crown relations with First Nations...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.4 April 2007 How will Canada keep on top...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.2 February 2007 So you think you’ve got it...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.3 March 2007 Consider the following recent history: Ontario...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.4 April 2007 “On any journey, it is important...
 
« Toutes choses étant, par une puissance immortelle, de près ou de...
 
Half a millennium since first contact between Aboriginal peoples and European...
 
In terms of performance measurement, incentives for success and penalties for...
 
Changer la culture des employés un outil à la fois Le...
 
"All things by immortal power, Near and Far, Hiddenly To each...
 
The Internet is a key channel for public service delivery. Recent...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.10 December 2007 When new policy collides with entrenched...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.9 November 2007 Youth…still wasted on the young. It’s...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.8 October 2007 When Pat Collins left Ottawa in...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.7 September 2007 By: Guy D’Aloisio, Mchel Laurendeau, V....
 
Quote of the week “We manage our books really well and...
 
Quote of the week “What was clear when you visited some...
 
Quote of the week “(P)ublic service should be a career of...
 
Quote of the week “Government can’t simply step into the void...
 
Quote of the week “…civil servants may be intractable points of...
 
Quote of the week “…thinking government is necessarily the solution to...
 
Quote of the week “If there is gravy at city hall,...
 
Quote of the week “The IPAC DM/CAO survey…provides insight into your...
 
Le problème actuel n’est pas seulement le départ à la retraite...
 
It’s not just that executives are about to retire – it’s...
 
Au cours des derniers mois, de nombreux fonctionnaires fédéraux ont dépoussiéré...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.9 November 2007 Most observers will be acutely aware...
 
Don’t trust anyone over thirty, Jerry Rubin pronounced in 1967. Jerry,...
 
A strange paradox has emerged in the quest for Gov 2.0....
 
CGE Vol.13 No.7 September 2007 Julius Caesar left us with one...
 
While the focus in recent years has been on Web 2.0...
 
How can an organization work seven times faster when it knows...
 
The 2011 federal election has focused on policy and leadership. But...
 
Unless you have been working in a silo, it is obvious...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.8 October 2007 The biggest challenge facing government executives...
 
Wondering why it sometimes seems so blankety-blank hard to get anything...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.9 November 2007 Not long ago, an energetic web...
 
À titre d’employée de la fonction publique de l’Ontario (FPO), j’ai...
 
As an employee of the Ontario Public Service, I’ve been looking...
 
À l’instar de nombreux autres employeurs, la fonction publique de l’Ontario...
 
Like many employers, the Ontario Public Service (OPS) has a sizeable...
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
In the show today, J. Richard Jones talks with Dean McKeown,...