Making Change Stick

Photo by Maria Thalassinou on Unsplash

Photo by Maria Thalassinou on Unsplash

Your company has just acquired another business, and with it some new team members, intellectual property, and service opportunities. Acquisitions always look easier on paper than they do in person, and your leadership team has been tasked with integrating every asset.

Everyone on the team brings some expertise to the table, and ideas about where to start and what to prioritize are flying left and right. But where do you begin? What is the best way to capture all of these ideas without losing momentum? How do you leverage the collective knowledge of the incoming team members? And most importantly — how do you establish a strategy for the newly combined organization and prioritize our next steps?

The old team had a plan in place, and now with this acquisition, everything seems up in the air. Is there a way to quickly organize our ideas, identify the opportunities, and chart a course forward without losing this momentum?

There is no shortage of ideas, but…

Competing priorities can impact productivity and cause conflicted teams to lose time and miss opportunities. One of the biggest mistakes in strategic planning is to spend too much time filtering ideas rather than capture and redirect. Instead, allow people to share their ideas in support of existing plans and strategies, and then search for patterns to help the team refine (or redefine) the forward-strategy.

Focus less on methodology, more on capturing the inputs.

Strategic planning methodologies, like management books, are a dime a dozen. While many of these tools and techniques can help you move forward, the essential steps are to capture any and all relevant artefacts — documents, videos, rich media, strategies, project plans — and to  classify and organize them to identify patterns, and from those patterns to uncover opportunities.

As people are given an opportunity to “unload” their backlog of experiences and wisdom, there begins to build a sense of shared understanding of those patterns and opportunities, which leads to the development of a new strategic vision and plan for the newly combined organization.

Clearly identify the decisions to be made.

The first step is to create an inventory, cataloging all of their knowledge assets, personnel interviews, and other artifacts. Begin by mapping your inputs against your current project plans, identifying insights into your planning — and where there are gaps and overlaps with the new team.

With this inventory and initial analysis as a baseline, you’ll be able to illustrate the current state of the business, and ask the right questions to help clarify and bolster certain strategies. Take the time to create a visual representation of your collective knowledge and strategy, get consensus on the next steps for the combined team, and get back to the executive team with your shared recommendations.

Decisions made with shared understanding have sticking power.

Few decisions made by fiat stand the test of time. The more that people are part of the decision-making process, the more they will support that process. That’s why I love the technology category of collaboration: it better enables teams to create shared understanding.

Most employees come to the table with a wealth of experiences and life lessons — many of which may have nothing to do with their current role or perceived experience level. Good ideas should be considered no matter where they come from. When the strategic planning process allows for all participants to share their ideas and inputs, the quality of the resulting plan increases.

Christian Buckley

Christian is the Microsoft GTM Director for AvePoint Inc., and a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Apps & Services MVP based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He hosts the AvePoint Office 365 Hours (#O365hours) series, monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the #CollabTalk Podcast, and leads the monthly Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) live stream. He is based in Lehi, Utah (Silicon Slopes).