Go Ahead and “Enable” Your Clients Given All We Have Been Through!

Given the challenges our clients are facing, we should “enable” them to improve #organizational performance.  Yes, I used the word “enable!” I fully recognize that this term is often times seen as a negative.  As in, I “enabled” my dysfunctional cousins to drink themselves silly.”  Not so cool.

The type of “enabling” I am talking about involves clients who are currently immobilized by the dozens of challenges they have faced over the past two years.  The #pandemic alone has resulted in many of our clients having to take herculean efforts to keep their organizations functioning. Many teams are now transitioning again to #returntooffice which creates additional stressors. [I write about the challenges and triumphs of delivering our work virtually and hybrid in my new book: https://amzn.to/3zvtzyv]

All this adds up to some burned out folks who are not in a good place for launching new #organizationalimprovement efforts. … And yet, we all need to keep getting better! …

Given this back drop, I find myself going the extra step to kick start some performance improvement efforts.  A few examples:

  • Kick Off: I have taken a more active role in getting teams together in order to start an improvement effort.  There are a number of leaders and team members who have #organizationaldevelopment efforts on their docket.  At the same time, they are so swamped with day-to-day people, process and technology challenges that they do not have the bandwidth to get the effort kicked off.  I have found that by doing a bit of work upfront to push the effort into gear, the leaders then quickly follow with action.
  • Project Approaches: A number of leaders and teams I work with do not have the mindshare to brainstorm ways to approach our performance effort.  Again, they are so overloaded with other challenges that the exercise of coming up with new, innovative ideas for improvement is simply overwhelming.  In these instances I find myself offering up a slate of ideas to get the conversation going.  This provides the initial fuel leading to robust conversations. 
  • Scale Back: I am fine with leaders and teams needing me to prime the pump to get a project going (per the above two bullets). However, this is the case only IF the team is then able and willing to do the heavy lifting.  In cases where the team is truly overloaded, I suggest that the project be scaled back, delayed or dropped altogether.  It is much better to back away from a project that would end up flailing than to push it forward.  

In summary, I am finding that in some cases leaders and teams need a little nudge to get them going on organizational improvement.  Given the huge challenges over the past few years I am willing to do a bit of extra work/hand holding beyond what consultants typically offer given these extra-ordinary times (how many times have we heard that term!). 

I am being provocative by using the word “enabling”.  Is the consultant by doing a bit of extra work to get an effort going “enabling”?  If so, then I guess I am an enabler….

Note: This blog does not reflect the views of my employer.


Published by Kevin Anderson, Dr. Organizational Design (OD)

Kevin Anderson is a leading expert in organizational design and performance, leadership, large scale change projects, business process engineering and talent and culture initiatives. Kevin has over twenty five years of experience in designing and delivering high impact, global organizational solutions. He is a Senior Organizational Development Consultant at Cargill where he leads efforts around team effectiveness, organizational design, culture and change management. Kevin diagnoses, proposes and delivers solutions in the Talent Performance domain. He has also created and rolled out Leadership Development and Organizational Development for the City of Minneapolis. Before that Kevin successfully worked with Accelare consulting health care, retail and university clients to create actionable strategic plans. In addition, he has served as an organizational development leader at Thomson Reuters working with legal, financial and scientific products. Kevin has a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development and a Masters of Arts in Public Policy and Management from the University of Minnesota. His Bachelors Degree in Speech Communications and Political Science is from Macalester College.

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