April 10th, 2017
One of the most common questions I get is “where should we start?” I generally look at helping an organization become more inclusive as a chicken or egg kind of thing. There are a number of places that you can start, none necessarily right or wrong. The most important thing is the getting started.
Developing a plan, drafting a business case, clarifying objectives, soliciting executive support , building some infrastructure can all be important steps and sometimes can be a good place to start – but sometimes people need to be exposed to new information and research in order to do a good job of planning and picking targets – but sometimes, a plan and goals and support are needed to clarify what kinds of information and research are needed. Chicken. Egg.
I continue to have strong feelings about the importance of getting started and I have developed a roadmap to help organizations think about how to move forward and what to do next, and I will be unpacking that roadmap in coming blog posts.
I have also recently realized that there is an important step I have been overlooking, and that is performing a self-assessment. Before you engage others, start building a business case or any of that, it is important to inventory your self and your situation. This is, I believe, always the right place to start.
You are about to embark on a journey, it is quite frequently a difficult one and it is important to make sure that you are ready. I splice and dice these into about 30 separate questions on the actual assessment, but here are some things to consider if you are getting ready to make some things happen. These are not questions that need formal answers, you do not need to site facts and figures, these are for your own reflection and clarity:
- What is it specifically that you hope to accomplish? What is it that you want to be different? The more specific you can be here the better.
- Why? You will be accused of having an agenda – and you do, everyone does – it is important for you to know and be able to communicate it. Why does this matter to you personally and why do you believe this should matter to the organization?
- What power do you have? Not just formal power, but more broadly how do you rate your ability to influence behavior and overcome resistance? What other power do you have access to?
- Are you willing and able to challenge others with power?
- Are you prepared to be lonely, unpopular, pigeon-holed, misunderstood and under-resourced? There are some exceptions, and maybe your organization is one of them, but this remains the norm.
- Do you have a posse? It is important to have an internal support network and an external support network, being connected to folks doing the same work at other organizations is valuable both for your success and your mental health.
- Do you know how things (really) get done in your organization? Do you know how to drive change? Having some understanding of this in advance is much easier than learning on the go. Many initiatives get bogged down due to this.
- Are you in a good place? It’s hard work, I would suggest it is some of the hardest, because there is history and emotions and politics and so many different things wrapped up in it. How are you mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually? How do you take care of yourself? You do not have to do all the work, you do not have to carry the organization, in fact please do not try, but knowing how well you and being able to care for yourself has to be a part of this from start to finish.
Be good to each other.
some upcoming travel:
Milwaukee, WI April 22 and 23
Houston, TX May 11 and 12
Detroit, MI May 16 and 17
Montreal, Quebec May 22 and 23
Marin County, CA May 24 and 25