What Do You Do When You Have 37 Strategic Change Initiatives?


What do you do when you have 37 strategic change initiatives?  Nothing!

This was the challenge facing a client attempting to execute a significant change in strategy.  This client was stuck!  The solution was to focus on those initiatives that will have the biggest impact.  The challenge was, how do we choose the right one to three initiatives.  The process used was applying the 80/20 Principle to choose the right change initiatives.

Business owners and leaders driving change need to live and breathe this principle.  Here is the Wikipedia definition:

“The Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.”

Quite simply, leaders need to focus on the 20% of their personal activities, and 20% of their team’s activities that will provide them with 80% of the desired change results.  The question I always ask leaders and their teams is, “Do you know your 20%?”.  What actions, activities and change initiatives will get you closer to achieving your strategic goals?

Here are 7 steps a leader can follow to make the 80/20 Principle part of their change leadership toolkit:

  1. Strategic Clarity–Make sure that your entire team understands your business strategy and has determined the impact it has on their day to day work.
  2. Identify the Future State–How does your organization need to change to be better aligned with your strategy?  What kind of talent do you need?  What internal processes are needed to better support your strategy?  How about your infrastructure/technology?
  3. Assess the Current State–Assess your current talent, review your processes and technology in comparison to your identified future state.
  4. Determine what needs to be done to close the gap
  5. Perform 80/20 Analysis–You will not be able to change everything over night.  Prioritize the required changes and determine the 20% that will provide 80% of the desired change.
  6. Choose you strategic change initiatives
  7. Align your entire organization to those initiatives

Always remember, the planning process has more value than the plan itself.  You need to stay flexible and always ask yourself, “What is the best use of my time right now?”  Or in 80/20 lingo, what is my 20%?

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